One former Foster City mayor announced he’s not quite ready to give up politics and will challenge Assemblyman Kevin Mullin for the District 22 seat in the coming election.
Art Kiesel, who recently termed out from the Foster City Council after two four-year terms and two years as mayor, said he plans to run for the state office to address key issues affecting the county.
The 72-year-old said he’d like to focus on San Mateo County issues that need a more regional or even statewide approach such as addressing traffic, housing and ensuring there’s enough water to account for projected residential growth over the next 20 years. Kiesel said he also wants to see more be done to improve California’s education system, replace redevelopment agencies and pay down pension liabilities.
“They’re issues that I’ve been talking about or running around the edges of where I could from the local level,” Kiesel said, adding he wants to do more at a statewide level.
The 22nd district is entirely contained within San Mateo County and represents residents in Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Emerald Hills, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Montara, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco.
Planning to run without a party affiliation, if elected, Kiesel said he’d leave his job as a chief financial officer for the military contracting company Horus Vision. Kiesel said his public experience includes two terms on the Foster City Council, three and a half years on the Planning Commission, seven years with the League of California Cities and four years with the City/County Association of Governments. He served on the league’s Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee and was on C/CAG’s Legislative Committee.
Mullin, D-South San Francisco, is seeking his third two-year term in the Assembly where he currently serves in the key role of speaker pro tem. Mullin said he’s dedicated to continuing to serve his constituents in the 22nd district and authored 25 bills that were signed into law; including his signature election reform package that prompted the all-mail ballot pilot program aimed at encouraging public participation in government.
“My focus has been putting the needs and concerns of San Mateo County on the table in Sacramento,” said Mullin, 45.
As chair of the Select Committee on Biotechnology, author of bills to direct state funding toward addressing congestion on Highway 101, an advocate for Caltrain electrification and striving to find solutions to support affordable housing, Mullin said he’s well-versed in county issues.
Kiesel said attention is being paid to addressing north-south traffic along the Peninsula but he remains concerned little is being done to alleviate east-west congestion that is of major concern to San Mateo County residents.
Housing is a hot topic for nearly all politicians in the county with Kiesel and Mullin urging more should be done.
“The state was involved when we had redevelopment agencies that helped the building process. Now, when we were in the recession they abandoned or dissolved redevelopment agencies but came back with no alternatives,” Kiesel said. “There’s some push up in Sacramento, but it’s running at a snail’s pace and my other concern is even if we do something, we can’t build housing overnight.”
Kiesel added he’s interested in reforming the California Environmental Quality Act to streamline the process.
Unsure of an exact solution, Kiesel noted more must be done to address California’s multi-billion dollar pension liability that’s “been a disaster for several years and the state’s doing nothing about it.”
Kiesel also said with predictions the Bay Area population will drastically increase over the next few decades, it’s time to start considering alternative water sources like desalinization.
Kiesel, a conservative who doesn’t plan on running with a particular party, said he “found gratification in trying to get the public closer to governance,” and “I’m the kind of person that says I concern myself with the people that elected me and not necessarily what the party does.”
Mullin currently serves on several Assembly committees that cover the budget, business and professions, elections and redistricting, housing and community development, as well as revenue and taxation. He said he’s been a strong advocate for constituents in San Mateo County and plans to continue work promoting shared prosperity and bolstering the middle class.
“My energy and my focus is going to be on how do we create economic opportunity for all of San Mateo County. I’ve been a forceful voice for affordable housing, how we address the affordable housing crisis in San Mateo County and how do we invest resources in rebuilding our transportation infrastructure. So housing and transportation are forefront and center issues for my district and I’m going to keep pushing for solutions within the budget,” Mullin said.
Mullin noted he wants to strengthen democracy through election reform, has a video series called Capital Connection and hosts regular coffee programs to be accessible to constituents.
Although more candidates may come forward in time for the June open primary, Kiesel and Mullin have thrown their hats in the ring and said they’re ready for the job.
“You can never take any campaign for granted and you always run a campaign as if you’re an underdog,” Mullin said. “I know Art and he’s a good man and was a strong councilmember in Foster City, and I welcome him to the race and look forward to discussing our respective issues for the 22nd district.”
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