In more than three years as the District Three representative on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Don Horsley has proven to be a capable and accessible force for his constituents. Of the two people running for his seat on the board, he is the best candidate.
His decision to take his $115,000 salary with benefits on top of his $200,000 annual pension created no small stir in late 2012 when he backtracked on a campaign promise not to take it. He later changed his mind and decided he would fulfill his campaign promise of not taking it. Now that he running for re-election, Horsley is making no such promise and said he will again take his salary after the election. The reason? The county is doing better financially and Horsley said he deserves it.
“Why would I not?” he said when asked the question. Horsley points to the approximately $500,000 he saved the county by not taking it for most of his first four-year term and said he works hard 60 hours a week. He also said it should be no different than a private sector pension. Only problem is that it is not a private sector pension, it’s being paid for by me and you. At the time Horsley announced he would again take his pay in late 2012, the Daily Journal called him tone-deaf. And this decision is certainly the same considering the county is one catastrophic event away from economic hardship. But at least he’s being honest about it.
So if this decision bothers you, don’t vote for him. It bothers us, but he is still the best candidate for this office.
With much of the district on the coast, Horsley is often the go-to guy for issues both great and small. From organizing a plan to revitalize Princeton-by-the Sea and ensuring Highway 1 has safe crossings to ensuring there is enough clean water supply and health care for those in Pescadero, Horsley has managed to keep up with the needs of the entire coast.
He has used his previous experience as county sheriff to provide an alternative point of view on the new county jail and ensure it has the right facilities to provide rehabilitation and reduce recidivism. He also has been able to flex new muscles in getting things done whether it be pushing for new mental health facilities or safety net housing.
Running against him is Michael Stogner, a perennial candidate who is continually sharpening his message of accountability and transparency. Stogner has made it clear he would like more accountability for the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury and adherence to its reports at the government level. He is also proud of his work asking questions of elected officials and wanting more protection for whistleblowers, the latter of which he said will be his priority if elected. He also wants to continue fighting for local control and to ensure the average person gets involved. He was also particularly irked when Horsley went back on his campaign promise about his pay and threatened a recall. Double-dipping is currently allowed but should be addressed at the state legislative level. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done at the county level aside from personal decisions to not engage in the practice for what seems like political reasons.
Still, of the two candidates, Horsley has proven to be an effective and diligent supervisor who is now being honest that he wants to get paid for his work.