Mark Simon

Between the pandemic and the machinations of the Trump administration, this could have been anticipated: The data from the 2020 U.S. Census is late.

Aside from providing a fascinating portrait of the American people, the census is of immense political consequence. It is the data that determines how many seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives — and, as already has been reported, California will lose one of its 53 seats, the first time the state has had such a decline.

It also is the data that determines where lines are drawn for districts at the federal and state levels and, quite significantly, at the local level, where district elections have become increasingly commonplace.

Every local body where there are district elections — including school districts, city councils and special districts from South San Francisco to Menlo Park, and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors — has to draw new district lines based on the 2020 census data, which should reflect how people have moved in and out of a jurisdiction, or moved within it.

As we saw in Redwood City, as they drew the lines in advance of the 2020 election, the process can be an agonizing experience. Under the best of circumstances, it requires time.

But there’s another problem. The effect of the tardy census data also could be profound, particularly on the 2022 California primary election, which is scheduled for June.

If the redistricting process gets a late start, which it most assuredly will, it can crowd up on the deadline for candidates who want to run in 2022, which includes a number of incumbent councilmembers, as well as those seeking two open seats on the Board of Supervisors, and anyone who might want to challenge countywide officials, including Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe and Chief Elections Officer and Clerk-Assessor-Recorder Mark Church.

The filing period for would-be candidates begins roughly 115 days before the election, which means for a June primary, the period begins sometime in February. Right now, the best predictions are that the census data will become available in November, anywhere from two to four months late. There is a legal timeline that each jurisdiction has to follow to make sure there is public input on the new district lines and to ensure some measure of transparency.

Frankly, it doesn’t look like it all will get done in time. And that could mean moving the primary election from June to as late as August.

Meanwhile, more than a few elected officials must be wondering what district they are in and how much people have moved around in the past 10 years.

ONE COUNTY, ONE REP: The general consensus of those who make these kinds of analyses is that a Southern California congressional seat will be deducted from the state’s total. By the way, California is one of 13 states where an independent commission is solely responsible for drawing the new congressional and legislative district lines.

But even when drawn by an independent commission, the changes to districts will ripple throughout the state and one reality is that San Mateo County could go from two members of Congress to one. Democrat Anna Eshoo represents a small, southern portion of the county, and this district steadily has been shifting south in past redistricting efforts. Democrat Jackie Speier represents the bulk of the county and a smidgen of southern San Francisco.

It is easy to envision that Speier’s district could cover all of the county and that Eshoo’s district could slip below the county line and begin in Palo Alto.

Should this happen, it would hearken back to the 1970s, when Leo Ryan was the county’s sole member of Congress. And, it is worth noting, Ryan was especially vigilant about heavy-handed behavior from San Francisco politicians and was well known as a fierce advocate for San Mateo County interests and independence.

OTHER STUFF: As for the aforementioned Mark Church, the rumors are that San Carlos community activist David Pollack may challenge the incumbent next year. Pollack would not comment on the rumor, but he recently created an Instagram account named david4assessor. … It’s just a little bit of history, since I have gone as far back as the ’70s, but it is fun to consider. When I first met Tom Lantos in 1979, as he prepared to run for Congress in the wake of Ryan’s assassination in Jonestown, he handed me a business card indicating he was a chief foreign policy advisor to then-Sen. Joseph Biden. More than once in the past several months, I have pondered the prospect of Lantos as President Biden’s national security advisor.

Mark Simon is a veteran journalist, whose career included 15 years as an executive at SamTrans and Caltrain. He can be reached at

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(13) comments


Jon Mays wrote this below. I still don't think the regular multiple posters heard him loud and clear.

It is one of the most unhealthy things we do to our mental health.

Journalists who post their stories to spread awareness of their work are often targeted. Opinion writers who post their columns experience the same. Many act as if attacking someone’s life work is a completely normal thing. It’s even worse when people easily dive into harassment as if it was a warm pool.

I can handle criticism, even welcome it, but the method of commentary on social media is by default aggression. It can’t be healthy for those who originate the personal attacks either.

What’s sad about the current state of social media is it’s the same as the current state of our collective society. Many consider themselves at war with each other rather than being interesting in exchanging ideas and exploring philosophies.

It seemed to start out fun. On Facebook, people could throw virtual food or post on walls. On Twitter, people posted what they had for breakfast or talked about parties. You could connect with your high school friends.

No more. I’ll give an example. I wrote a relatively mild column last week about the need for San Mateo residents who haven’t gotten involved in the general plan process to do so. There are two groups who generally participate, pro-housing and self-described smart growthers. They have known points of view, but there are others out there who could also provide their input. That would be refreshing. More input is better, right? For using the term smart growthers and saying YIMBY or NIMBY “can be seen as pejoratives by some,” I was blasted on Twitter and told I insulted the YIMBYs by saying it “can be seen as pejoratives by some.” And then they fought with each other. OK, so I learned I could have used the term “self-described” and said NIMBY can be seen as a pejorative by some, and that YIMBY is a derivative of that term. But all that doesn’t matter, because people in this mindset see what they want to see and are looking for a fight. They want the retweets and the likes and the comments because it’s addicting and this horrid online place has become their ersatz version of community. Social media has changed them and, honestly, it’s not necessarily their fault.

Yet, it essentially proved my point that there needs to be more points of view represented in the general plan process. Some of the commenters had decent ideas on how that could happen, but that is lost when it’s delivered in an insult. And it reveals that some people see life as a war to be “won” rather than a life to be lived or a future community to envision. I do not choose to “win,” I choose to live in a better community, one that respects the viewpoints of others.

Not a possibility in today’s world of social media. There is a larger issue here, and that is the radicalization of small groups of all stripes on social media who carry those grudges into public planning processes and diminish the discourse. This is a problem to solve, and I hope new ideas emerge on how to get more cohesive, expansive and civil public input. But more importantly, I see a larger problem to solve and hope we can focus on the utility of social media while reducing the deleterious impact. Social media may not have the exact same health impacts as tobacco, but there is no doubt it has damaged our society. But is that damage permanent? That’s up to all of us.

Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.


Whenever I see a comment about business cards and politicians I remember the past City Councilmember Jim Dufflemeyer past council member Foster city He would shake your hand and hand you his insurance business card. .Iit left me standing there wondering if I was meeting a council member or an insurance salesman?

Terence Y

Mr. Simon, are you referring to the pandemic caused by the COVID virus, which if reports are correct, was partially funded in China by the Obama administration via Dr. Fauci? Seems to me that this is yet another self-inflicted wound caused by the Obama administration, similar to the self-inflicted drought due to California’s shortsightedness in not saving water for future use.



Why don't you take your own advice and do a search. Your garbage about Dr. Fauci and Obama is bunk and you either know it and don't care or never bothered to check because you are afraid of finding the truth.

Terence Y

Actually, Taffy, I did do a search to verify other articles supporting the same allegations. If you’re interested a simple search would find the House intelligence report which provides additional detail. I’d suggest you expand your reading to include the right type of media before trying to call bunk on the truth.

Mark Simon

Send me a link to the House Intelligence report that confirms the virus came from China via Fauci.

Terence Y

Mr. Simon, for your reading pleasure, here’s a link to the interim report:


Dear readers,

I hope you have your earthquake and fire insurance paid up. Mark this day on the calendar because the end may be near. Terence actually gave us a link that was asked for rather than his usual go look it up and don't look at fake news spiel. BTW Terence, like I said before, there is still room in the world of reality if you want to join us.

Terence Y

Actually Taffy, I believe I’ve provided links to folks in the past. I usually make an allowance for initial requests and then see if they keep an open mind. For minds that are closed, I usually don't do their homework for them. BTW, if reports are correct, I see your idol, Dr. Fauci, may have been, or is still, funding a study where the University of Pittsburgh grafted skin from aborted fetuses onto lab rats to grow hair. Well, actually they’re probably mice. A simple search may be able to find a video. Maybe you can report back on the purpose of this experiment. As an experimental therapy for alopecia? Maybe Dr. Fauci can also propose performing experiments on convicts, in exchange for a lighter sentence, or being allowed to move off death row. What say you?


Hello Terence,

Actually I have always thought using prisoners for test subjects was a good I idea. They would be able to say they did some good for a change and maybe early release would be in the plan. As for your hair growing experiment, I think growing testicles would be a more useful project. There should be a good demand for them in the Republican party. Of their 262 members in Congress at this time, only 17 have a pair.

Terence Y

Actually, Taffy, it’s not my hair growing experiment - it’s your idol's, Dr. Fauci. Maybe he’s planning on selling chia pets, version 2.0, with an option on hair color. As for your sexist remark, I’m not surprised you attribute men as being more capable than women. After all, more women suffered economically under your other idol’s policies, Obama, so your attitude makes sense. BTW, maybe not just using prisoners for test subjects, but as organ providers? Trade your liver for 5 less years of incarceration and someone else’s liver, 5 more years? These ideas may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if a Virginia restaurant is serving cicada tacos (purportedly tastes like shrimp), all options should be on the table, operating or dinner. In other news, did you see the updated Trump Force One - his 757 commuter plane for upcoming rallies?



Are you sure the cicadas taste like shrimp? I heard they taste like chicken. As for my so called sexist remark, where did I say anything about the men being more capable than women. I have nothing against the women, four of them grew a pair along with the men.

In regards to the 757 rally plane. Yes I did see an article about it and I wanted to know who was doing the upgrades. I just wondered who was going to get stuck with the bill because you Trump will welch on the payment like he does all others. When I clicked on the link to the story it wouldn't load. I guess my computer is smarter than a dyed in the wool Trump supporter, it knows garbage when it sees it.

Terence Y

Taffy, thanks for explaining why you’re always looking for links instead of doing the work – sounds like operator error. You might want to search for “allusion” as it explains your ridiculous sexism denial. Speaking of garbage, when are you going to talk about Biden’s bungles? I hear Biden is releasing three more terrorists from Gitmo. And Biden is trying to take credit for the cease fire between Israel and Hamas that was brokered by Egypt. At this point, Biden probably thinks Egypt is what happens when you get swindled by e-commerce. You know, e-gypped.

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