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San Mateo County Harbor District election twist: Bernardo tops Tucker following vote change weeks after polls close, more ballots still outstanding
November 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal

Robert Bernardo

Jim Tucker

In a shocking twist of events more than a week after the polls closed, it appears a San Mateo County Harbor District commissioner has lost re-election to another incumbent.

As of Wednesday, Commissioner Robert Bernardo clocked in nearly 700 votes since election night and rose above Commissioner Jim Tucker to second place.

Bernardo, who was down 488 votes by midnight Nov. 4, now leads by 205 with 43,273 votes, or 23.32 percent, while Tucker has earned a close 43,068 votes, or 23.21 percent.

Approximately 20,500 ballots remain uncounted, however, and the San Mateo County Elections Office anticipates the majority to be settled by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Elections Manager David Tom said. The absolute final numbers will be released 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The contentious election for three seats on the troubled Harbor District Board of Commissioners ended with charter boat captain Tom Mattusch ousting appointed incumbent Will Holsinger for a two-year term and marine biologist Nicole David winning one of two four-year term seats. David, who took 59,056 votes, or 31.82 percent, will undoubtedly oust either Tucker or Bernardo.

Bernardo said he was shocked at the turnaround and won’t feel assured until the final count is in.

“I’m at a loss for words because in all my years in being involved in politics, I’ve never seen anything like this before. This is they type of stuff you read about,” Bernardo said. “I’m not making an assumption that we’re going to win, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do want to just thank my family and supporters.”

Tucker said he was fairly certain the results are in Bernardo’s favor but remains satisfied at his tenure on the board.

Tucker has a long history of public service having spent 16 years on the Harbor District Board of Commissioners and multiple terms as mayor of Daly City.

“Honestly, it’s OK. Now it’s time to move on to something else. [I] did [my] 16 years, [I] did 12 years with Daly City [Council]. If I put a positive spin on it, I’ve done my public service, now it’s time for the next group to come in,” Tucker said.

The contentious election highlighted the troubled district that was the focus of a scathing San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report and the county investigating possibly dissolving the special district to piecemeal its responsibilities elsewhere. The district oversees Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay and has a joint powers agreement to run Oyster Point Marina/Park with South San Francisco.

The board has fallen under scrutiny for having a lack of congeniality among commissioners while commercial fishermen have expressed concerns they’re lacking adequate representation. The district opted to hire a mediator that planned to postpone his work until after the election.

Furthering the heat behind the election was Commissioner Sabrina Brennan, who was often outvoted and outnumbered and called for a reform of the board by ousting the incumbents.

Brennan, who campaigned for David and Mattusch and maintained the district was in need of a makeover, said she was happy Bernardo appears to have won re-election.

“It was a vote for new energy on the board and that was sort of what [Bernardo] represented. … Aside from me, he’s one of the two newest commissioners on the board. We have a lot in common and I think we could work very productively together,” Brennan said.

But with Tucker potentially vacating his leadership position and the district’s longtime General Manager Peter Grenell retiring in December after 17 years of service, the new board would be flush with fresh blood.

“If you look at his background, just his wealth of knowledge and institutional history is amazing and I’ve learned so much from him,” Bernardo said of Tucker. “I’m greatly appreciative of that, I really am. And he is an outstanding public official who’s done so much for his community and I don’t think he should have conceded. This is not over yet.”

Tucker said he looks forward to having more time to travel and spend with his grandchildren. Of his experience, Tucker said he’s most proud of reducing the district’s more than $19 million debt to the California Division of Boating and Waterways that helped build Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.

“In very troubled economic times, we were still able to continue paying $1.5 million a year. My only regret would be in four more years we’d have it paid off,” Tucker said. “I’m really pleased with the accomplishment of getting that debt from $19 million down to $5.8 million, that was probably a milestone for me.”

Bernardo agreed paying down the district’s debt was a substantial accomplishment and should his win stand, will continue to do his best to work collaboratively with all board members.

“I think the fact that Jim Tucker and I were able to work together in a positive way, speaks to the ability, the hope that elected officials of different parties and different backgrounds, how well they can work together to achieve and to make progress on things like bringing down the debt,” Bernardo said. “So I really think it speaks to the bipartisanship and I would also like to say I learned a lot from Jim Tucker in the four years that I’ve been on the board and I thank him for being someone I looked up to and has so much experience.”

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106



Tags: tucker, bernardo, board, district, years, election,

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