Virginia Chang Kiraly is the fourth candidate to enter the race to replace Supervisor Don Horsley. The other candidates, Menlo Park Councilmember Ray Mueller; San Carlos Mayor Laura Palmer-Lohan; Half Moon Bay resident and labor leader Steven Booker have all been interviewed in previous columns.
Chang Kiraly and her husband moved to Menlo Park in 1994. They have two sons. She has 15 years professional experience in corporate financial analysis, planning and risk management. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Commission for Economic Development where she served from 2007-2014 and was appointed chair of the biotech advisory committee. She was a Republican at the time but switched her party affiliation to Democrat in 2019. The position of supervisor is nonpartisan.
She ran for several offices unsuccessfully, for trustee of the Sequoia Union High School District in 2009 and for Assembly in 2006 against the late Ira Ruskin. She was finally elected to public office in 2011 as a member of the Menlo Park Fire Protection Board of Directors and appointed in 2015 but elected in 2016 to the San Mateo county Harbor District. She is the first Asian American woman to serve on both boards.
Her parents are Chinese immigrants. They came to Austin, Texas, in the 1950s where she was born. Her father became a professor of chemistry at the University of Texas and her mother graduated from there and became a dietician. Chang Kiraly attended high school in Austin, graduated from the University of Texas in 1986 with a degree in government and received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California in 2020.
The Harbor District, which has been one of the most troubled special districts in the county, has turned itself around, according to Chang Kiraly, and has accomplished much to be proud of. She pointed to the Living Shoreline Project to repair the trail leading to Maverick Beach by imitating Mother Nature and trying to offset damage from climate change. The district has beefed up protective measures on county beaches to avoid future drowning tragedies by providing a permanent life buoy to throw into the water to rescue people from being swept out to sea.
Chang Kiraly has started raising money and will release the names of endorsers at the close of filing period. Her website is virginachangkiraly.com. Right now there is speculation that the June primary may be delayed because of the slow census count. The election is in 2022 and, because there are four candidates in the race, it is anticipated that no one will win an outright majority. The two who prevail in the primary will face each other in November 2022. Horsley has said he will not endorse a candidate now but might in the primary. He and voters in the District 3, which covers primarily the unincorporated parts of San Mateo County and with most of the voters in Pacifica, will have some interesting choices: a Menlo Park councilmember who is a white male; the mayor of San Carlos, a working mother who is a lesbian; a resident of Half Moon Bay who is a labor leader and works with troubled youth throughout the county and is an African American; and Chang Kiraly, member of the Harbor Commission and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and is of Asian descent. Who says we have no diversity in San Mateo County politics today.
The hasty and messy departure from Kabul is reminiscent of the south Vietnamese clinging to the last plane out of Saigon. In both cases, Vietnam and Afghanistan, the U.S. had no viable partner, just a corrupt government with little or no support from its own people. In both cases we spent too many American dollars and destroyed too many American lives. Today, Vietnam is doing OK and is no longer an enemy of the United States. That is because the new leadership’s main goal was to unify the country. It’s doubtful such leadership will emerge from the Taliban or from Afghanistan but history is always full of surprises.
Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.