San Mateo Deputy Mayor Maureen Freschet has decided to relinquish her seat on the San Mateo City Council a year earlier than expected (she could run for re-election in 2020). The process is already in place to fill the vacancy, which according to the city’s charter must be done within 30 days.

Applications are available on the city’s website and must be handed in to the city clerk by Oct. 23. Here’s the link to the application: cityofsanmateo.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=997. Completed applications will be made available on the city’s website Oct. 24.

After all applications are submitted, the council will decide whether to interview all applicants or reduce the pool. There is an open City Council meeting to decide Oct. 28. The interviews will take place Nov. 12 in the Oak Room of the San Mateo Main Library. Candidates will be asked to respond to the council’s questions about their answers and they’ll get to make a two-minute closing statement at the end of that section. The council anticipates voting that night on an appointment.

According to City Clerk Patrice Olds, “if all goes well, we will be swearing in a new appointed council member to a one-year term Nov. 18.” The following have indicated they plan to apply: Ellen Mallory, planning commissioner and former Public Works and Park and Recreation Commission member as well as a former member of the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District board; John Ebneter, member of Planning Commission and former member of Sustainability Commission; Lisa Diaz Nash, member of the San Mateo Library Board of Trustees; and Amourence Lee, Park and Recreation commissioner and a member of the Home Association of North Central San Mateo. Also Chelsea Bonini, who unsuccessfully ran for the City Council two years ago is rumored to be interested in applying. She served one term on the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District board before throwing her hat into an unsuccessful council run. She then expressed an interest in challenging Rod Hsaio for a seat on the County Board of Education but that may be on hold depending on how her council bid succeeds.

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State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has much to accomplish before he is termed out in 2020. He is continuing to push for a law which would outlaw flavored tobacco products, such as the ones which have caused so many vaping deaths among young people. While San Francisco has banned all vaping products, Hill’s bill, Senate Bill 38, would be limited to the flavored varieties, the ones most preferred by the young. The bill still sits on the Senate floor. He is also working on a bill to remove penitential communications which currently exempt clergy members from the reporting of sexual abuse. Hill pointed out that this exemption does not cover therapists, doctors or spouses from reporting. Twelve other states have approved this law.

Hill is also keeping up the pressure on a newly constructed Pacific Gas and Electric to be determined by the bankruptcy court to fulfill its duties to rate holders and also to provide the power and safety required of the utility.

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Hill was one of the main proponents of Measure H, the major height and density initiative in 1991 which was overwhelmingly approved by San Mateo voters. It also swept him, Claire Mack, and two years later, the late Gary Yates, onto the City Council. In 2004, the measure was approved again but as Measure P. Measure P is now up for renewal in 2020. I asked Hill how he felt about the current measure. He said Measure H did a great service for the community but it has been a while and it would make sense to make some kind of adjustments to meet the changing times, some tweaking, “something appropriate that wouldn’t change the character of the city.”

He has decided to make an endorsement in the competitive race for his seat, but not just yet. What is most important to him is independence, someone who can stand up to the powers that be in Sacramento, the big special interests, whether it be business or labor. Hill usually has the support of big labor but he ran afoul of the California Nurses Association by carrying a bill which they did not like and the CNA sent out a hit piece on Hill. He cautioned that’s the price you may pay for taking on a special interest.

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

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