In the lexicon of political discourse, it is common to say, “Wow, things are really starting to heat up.”
And that’s today’s weather report, except to affirm I am a full-fledged native Northern California weather wienie.
As for the political climate, things are heating up across the broad landscape of seemingly countless local races.
The most compelling, perhaps, is the effort this week by San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee to insert herself into the District 5 race in her hometown between Rod Linhares and Adam Loraine.
Lee posted prominently — even dramatically — the following: “There are 7 city council candidates running in 3 districts. Rod Linhares is the only candidate who did not directly answer the questions: 1. What is your position on CA Prop 1? (support/oppose); 2. Do you support women’s right to access abortion and birth control? (yes/no).”
The set of questions was posed by Lee at her own initiative “as a San Mateo voter who cares about women’s rights and I am asking every candidate to share their views on abortion.”
An exchange of emails resulted in this response from Linhares: “I support our City Council’s decision to establish a 100-foot buffer zone around our Planned Parenthood Clinic. In addition, I support enforcement of all the laws of the state of California, including women’s reproductive rights.
“My primary focus is on the many critical issues that are under the purview of the City Council. These include, but are not limited to, public safety and security, our parks and infrastructure, and the city budget, to note a few.
This was insufficient for Lee, and resulted in the above posting, to which Lee added, “Mr. Linhares, we welcome your clarifications on your positions.”
Without waiting for an answer, Lee forged ahead, noting Linhares works as a director of Development for the San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese, where Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is rallying opposition to Proposition 1, which would make abortion a state constitutional right.
I contacted Linhares and asked him to clarify his position.
“My situation is a little different,” he said. “It’s personal. I am the product of an unwanted pregnancy.”
Linhares was in foster care for several months and then was adopted before he was a year old, he said.
“I’m kind of torn on this,” Linhares added. “I wrestle with it constantly. I don’t know how I land on Prop. 1. My personal situation really kind of colors the way I look at it. … My own situation — I’m just very thankful that I’m here.”
He acknowledged that the issue of women’s reproductive rights is an issue that can fall under the purview of the council, as noted by Linhares in his responses to Lee. As for the implication that his lack of a position reflects his job at the San Francisco archdiocese, Linhares said, “At this point, no one has said anything about it. Is it influencing me? I don’t know. I can’t evaluate it. … It is more my own personal thing.”
A POSTING EXPERIENCE: It may not have quite the same torque as abortion, but candidates Noelia Corzo and Charles Stone, opponents for the District 2 seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, had a little social media to-and-fro this week on their respective experience. All candidates inflate their experience with a certain amount of acceptable rhetorical license. You can judge whose balloon may be floating a little too high.
In a video, Corzo, a trustee in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, said, “Experience matters on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. I bring a wealth of experience that is currently missing on that board. … I lead the largest school district in the county and manage a budget twice the size of Belmont. I got students back in the classroom safely. … As a social worker and single mom, I know exactly where our neighbors fall through the cracks. When I’m elected, our budget will reflect our values and the will of our community. Together, we are San Mateo County.”
Stone, a two-term Belmont councilmember, responded with a string of tweets detailing his work with various countywide and local organizations, including the foundation for the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District; as a board member at SamTrans and Caltrain where he is “responsible for helping to manage … budgets and projects in excess of $3 billion, around 18x” the budget at the San Mateo-Foster City school district; serving on the boards of Peninsula Clean Energy and RethinkWaste; and raising two daughters.
“I understand the importance of local and regional needs and how to work with other communities for the greater good,” Stone wrote. He concluded each tweet: #experiencematters.
Mark Simon is a veteran journalist, whose career included 15 years as an executive at SamTrans and Caltrain. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.