As with many cities on the Peninsula, the city of San Carlos is steering itself out of a financial situation that seemed at times untenable. But through creative vision and solid leadership, the city has found its way to steady seas. The city contracted out its police department to the Sheriff’s Office and found a new partner for its fire department while also finding a way to share park and recreation services with Half Moon Bay. In addition, it created separate tiers for its new workers to get a handle on its benefits and retirement obligations for its former and current workers.
Amid this, the city is discussing the merits of a plan to remake land near its downtown train station into transit-oriented housing, offices and retail while contending with serious concerns from neighbors about its impact.
Through this, incumbents Bob Grassilli and Matt Grocott have exhibited leadership in different ways. It is evident Grassilli takes his job extremely seriously and always has the interests of all residents in mind when he makes decisions. Grocott too is a steady hand with a fiscal conservative bent that has served the city well over the years. Grocott is campaigning on the concept that the city’s pension and benefits obligations need reframing and believes San Carlos is a visionary city that could muscle through needed change and provide an example for other cities to follow. That will take a lot of heavy lifting and community consensus and Grocott has never been shy about taking on that load.
Of the other candidates, Cameron Johnson rises to the top. Though both appointed incumbent Karen Clapper and former councilwoman Inge Tiegel Doherty have the credentials and know-how to serve, Johnson provides a unique an exciting perspective to the race. His emphasis on innovative thought and community collaboration is key. While he supports transit-oriented development in concept, he understands the issues the Transit Village development present and believes consensus building will lead to a project all can support. And his call for a uniform vision for the city’s light industrial area as it transforms to meet new community needs is spot on. He also understands the intricacies of the city’s financial situation and, through his work on the Economic Development Advisory Commission, is in tune with the city’s need to draw new business and the revenue that comes with it while maintaining its small-town charm. He also brings the perspective of the city’s young families and the area’s high-tech community through his work with Netflix.
The city’s voters are fortunate to have so many high-quality candidates for three open seats on the council. All bring divergent voices to the discussion but the best choices in this race are Grassilli, Grocott and Johnson.