With so much attention on women presidential candidates and new congresswomen, we tend to overlook the talent we have at home. Among city councilmembers, there are three rising stars, each of whom has an excellent chance of achieving higher office some day. Take Burlingame Vice Mayor Emily Beach. She has all the qualifications of the perfect candidate Democrats are looking for to run for Congress and state legislatures. She was an Army captain and served in South Korea and Saudi Arabia. She’s a young mother who has been active in her children’s schools before being elected to the Burlingame City Council.

San Mateo Mayor Diane Papan, an attorney, who has made a name for herself as being extremely articulate and well-versed in city affairs. She has won the admiration of other councilmembers in her own city as well as countywide. It’s still early in her council career, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if she ventured upward if there was an opening.

Redwood City Councilwoman Giselle Hale, who works at Facebook, was a campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and was key Peninsula/Silicon Valley campaign leader in Barack Obama’s presidential runs. Higher office may be in her plans. Colleague Shelly Masur, who is on the ballot for the state Senate race in 2020, lives in the same Redwood City redistricted neighborhood as Hale. If Masur is not successful in her state Senate race and decides to continue on the Redwood City Council, she will have to face Hale.


Talk about talent. The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District board is blessed with three outstanding candidates for the November election. Unfortunately, voters can only pick two. Audrey Ng, the only Foster City resident on the board, will not run again. Ken Chin, former San Mateo public works and planning employee, is up for another term. The other two candidates are Alison Proctor of Foster City and Annie Tsai of San Mateo. Proctor is a past president of Foster City Elementary School PTA and is a CPA and a partner in Seiler, LLC in Redwood City. Tsai is a PTA board member and former chief marketing officer for business development. She now has her own consulting practice.

Chin, the only male board member, seems to be a shoo-in for re-election. He has the support of all members of the San Mateo City Council; two members of the Foster City Council and three members of the current board. The real contest will be between the two newcomers. Proctor is being supported by Ng. Meanwhile, Tsai has received the endorsement of San Mateo Councilman Eric Rodriguez and Mayor Diane Papan. Tsai grew up in Millbrae and is a graduate of Mills High School. She attended University of California, Berkeley, and spent 18 years in the private sector. She is a resident of Bay Meadows, is on her local PTA board (her son is a first-grader at Parkside Montessori). Proctor also grew up in Millbrae and graduated from Mills. Ironically, she and Tsai were cheerleaders together in seventh-grade. Proctor is supported by all members of the Foster City Council and three members of the current elementary board and many previous school board members.


County Supervisor Carole Groom is termed out in 2022. Already Charles Stone, a Belmont councilman and member of the SamTrans and Caltrain boards, has entered the race and picked up some big endorsements: Assemblymen Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, and Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto; Supervisor Dave Pine, San Mateo councilmembers Maureen Freschet, Joe Goethals and Eric Rodriguez, and three of his colleagues on the Belmont City Council. The district covers primarily San Mateo so the San Mateo endorsements are huge. San Mateo Councilman Rick Bonilla says it’s too early to officially announce, but he’s interested. He feels a late start won’t hinder him in gaining endorsements and money.


The Foster City Council is in disarray. There is a move to recall Vice Mayor Herb Perez primarily because he is rude to the public. He has also angered others for a variety of transgressions. Those include suing the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District over its plans to build a new elementary school in Foster City and costing the district big bucks which they didn’t need to spend. The new school Foster City parents have been waiting for is on its way but Perez created a lot of ill will for his obstruction. Then Perez and Councilwoman Richa Awasthi are seeking to censure their colleague Sanjay Gehani for violations of the Brown Act even though the district attorney decided not to bring charges. The other two councilmembers are against the censure.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at sue@smdailyjournal.com.

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(1) comment

Cindy Cornell

Just because there are women running for office who have impressive backgrounds on paper and ambition does not mean they should be elected. I hope people are sensible enough to look at their records and the priorities they've established. Like all candidates, male or female.

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