This is the first in a series of interviews I will do with the candidates running for supervisor. Election is next year.

Laura Parmer-Lohan was born in West Virginia. Her father was a professor at the University of West Virginia. By the time she was one the family had moved to Maryland. Her father, a mechanical engineer, had a new job at Fairchild. When her father was offered a job at General Dynamics, the family — dad, mom and four children (she is the youngest and has three older brothers) moved to San Diego where she attended Patrick Henry High School. She went on to get a Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, then a Master of Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1989, she moved to the Bay Area; to San Carlos in 2011, where she is currently the mayor. She was elected to the council in 2018. She is chief of staff for Amgen, a mega biotech company at its research and development site in South San Francisco. She is not a scientist but in the business management field. Now she is prepared to move on as she makes a run for San Mateo County supervisor, District 3, the seat currently held by Don Horsley. He will be termed out in 2022. So far there is one other declared candidate for this position, Ray Mueller, mayor of Menlo Park.

The district includes Atherton, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Woodside, part of Menlo Park and unincorporated areas of the county. Rich Gordon held the seat before Horsley and he is endorsing Parmer-Lohan. Other prominent endorsements include San Carlos Councilman Ron Collins; former Redwood City vice mayor Shelly Masur; former San Carlos councilmen Bob Grassilli and Cameron Johnson. She also has the support of attorney, Joe Cotchett. Other endorsements and more information are on her website:

Wife Kathy is executive director of the San Carlos Education Foundation They have two sons, one a student at the University of California, Davis, the younger at Sequoia High School. Parmer-Lohan is a member of Peninsula Clean Energy Board, San Mateo County Homes for All and on San Mateo County’s long range planning economic recovery subcommittee. The supervisor job is full time and she is prepared to give up her current position if successful.


More on recent column “the 19th Amendment — Tennessee Cliffhanger”: An authority on the subject, Tennessee historian/publisher, Paula Casey, emailed that there was much more to the story. In addition to Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Legislature, whose surprise vote for ratification (at his mother’s bequest) won the vote, there were two other legislators who played a leading role. Joseph Hanover, a Jewish immigrant born in Poland, who escaped to America when he was 6 years old; Banks Turner, a farmer from Yorkville, Tennessee who was thought to be an opponent of woman suffrage but cast a decisive vote in its favor.

Sixty-two members of the State House of Representatives had pledged support for the amendment, but then House Speaker Seth Walker changed his position saying, “This was a White Man’s country.” He was against giving Black people the right to vote. Walker was cheered by red rose-wearing opponents of suffrage, including lobbyists from the railroad, preachers and bootleggers. The 62 pledges for passage of woman suffrage in the House fell to 55 and then down to 47. Meanwhile, the politically savvy Carrie Chapman Catt, had asked Hanover of Memphis to lead the floor fight for ratification. In the final debate, Hanover told the story of his own journey with his parents and brothers from Poland to America, escaping the tyranny of the czar and the persecution of Jews in the pogroms. His parents had reminded him and his brothers that they were living in the greatest nation on the face of the earth, that democracy should never be taken for granted and the rights promised in the Constitution should be delivered to every American, including his own mother who had brought him to this nation. When it was time to vote, Speaker Walker sought to kill the proposed ratification of the amendment with a motion to table the resolution. Banks Turner surprised all by voting against the motion and it was defeated. And then when the final vote came to approve ratification, it was the young Burn who cast the deciding vote.

Casey helped publish “Why Mothers Can’t Vote” by Bill Haltom about Hanover. She has made preserving woman suffrage history the focus of her life. She writes “Tennessee has not lived up to what the suffragists envisioned; however, we are not giving up.”

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

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