Labor Day has always been the unofficial kickoff for the November election though the filing deadline for the race is in mid-August.
Starting next week, the Daily Journal will be kicking off its own election coverage though a few stories have already been written as the races have been formalized.
This election is a mid-term congressional and gubernatorial election, which typically draws a lot of interest though not as much as a presidential election. However, considering that Gov. Jerry Brown has such a commanding lead over Republican challenger Neel Kashkari that the interest just does not appear to be there. And around here, congressional and even state legislative races will likely be dominated by incumbents.
Still, there is stuff on the ballot this election that should definitely interest folks around here, and have a direct impact on our lives.
In the Daily Journal coverage area, it is my prediction that two races will be the most interesting. The first is actually two races, and that is the San Mateo County Harbor District Board of Commissioners. Three incumbents are up for election, two for four-year seats and one for a two-year seat. The two four-year incumbents are Jim Tucker and Robert Bernardo. They are challenged by Nicole David, Shawn Mooney, Brian Rogers and Kimberley Collins. The two-year incumbent, Will Holsinger, was appointed to fill the remaining term of Leo Padreddii after his death in 2013. Running against him are Tom Mattusch and Robert Grant. So there are nine running for three seats on the board. The last election in 2012 had six candidates for three seats. There is likely more interest this go-around after the, for the lack of a better phrase, dysfunction, on the board and lack of communication between its members. In addition, a recent civil grand jury report talking about that dysfunction and calling for the district to be disbanded and taken under county governance likely has a role in the interest. In addition, there was the bombshell announcement this week that General Manager Peter Grenell will be retiring in January — so finding the right fit for the future will be key. The Harbor District may not make decisions that have a direct impact on everyone in the county’s day-to-day lives, but it is funded by our tax dollars and is the steward of two well-established and critical gateways to our community — Pillar Point Harbor on the coast and Oyster Point Marina/Park in South San Francisco. The future of the district, and how its members get along with each other, is at stake in this race.
Another race sure to get a lot of attention is the Half Moon Bay City Council. With incumbent Naomi Patridge deciding to step away from the council, there are two incumbents running for three seats — Rick Kowalczyk and Allan Alifano. The challengers are Don Prestosz, Deborah Ruddock, Harvey Rarback, Deborah Penrose and David Eblovi. Races in which an incumbent decides not to run typically generate more candidate interest but the council is on the heels of a contentious ballot fight over the future of the Main Street Bridge. Perhaps the challengers are emboldened by that victory, but it’s sure to get interesting.
The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees has eight candidates for three seats and has been operating for months with a four-member board after incumbent Shirlee Hoch stepped down for health reasons. The board had just appointed Patrick Lucy to fill Liza Normandy’s seat when she was elected to the South San Francisco City Council but couldn’t get it together to appoint a replacement for Hoch in time for a deadline so decided to go with four members until November. Running along with Lucy is incumbent Phil Weise and challengers Rick Ochsenhirt, Pat Murray, Rosa Acosta, Monica Peregrina Boyd, Sue Olinger and John Baker. With so many candidates, that’s a lot of choices for voters.
There are also contested races for the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors and the Peninsula Health Care District, a measure about height limits in San Bruno, a $388 million bond measure for the San Mateo County Community College District, a $48 million bond measure for the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District, a $256 parcel tax extension that combines two current parcel taxes and a half-cent sales tax extension measure in Half Moon Bay.
So while interest may be low, there’s plenty of action on this fall ballot. And we’ll be tracking the progress all the way to Election Day.
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.