Election Day has come and gone and while the dust is still settling in some areas (See: Burlingame), the final results yielded a most interesting outcome for many of the municipalities in San Mateo County.
My last blog focused on nothing less than the battle for the future of Belmont… and the electorate responded in the affirmative. Former Planning Commissioner Eric Reed, attorney Charles Stone and incumbent Warren Leiberman were selected to fill the three openings on the City Council.
When Councilmembers Coralin Feierbach and Dave Warden opted not to seek re-lection, it opened the way for progress to return to Belmont. Since 2009, the council has been bogged down by petty disagreements and split into two factions (Mayor Christine Wozniak, Warden and Feierbach vs. Leiberman and Councilman David Braunstein.)
The voters ‘got it’ by electing a majority that will listen to the needs of all Belmont residents and respond accordingly to such issues as economic development (gasp!), job growth (yikes!) and (gulp!) housing. Apparently, as it was described to me, “the voters of Belmont did not buy into the NIMBY rhetoric from Planning Commissioners and Sierra Club darlings Gladwyn d’Souza and Kristin Mercer.” That seems extremely harsh to me but the two did not win.
Over in Burlingame, one suspects a recount will be a’coming in the battle for the third opening on the City Council. While Councilmembers Ann Keighran and Michael Brownrigg were easily returned to office, a scant 17 votes separates former Councilman Russ Cohen (1,966 votes) from businessman Russ Ortiz (1,949 votes).
If the lead holds, Cohen - Executive Director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association - can bring to bear his previous experience such as fighting the high-speed rail project because of its skyrocketing costs and potentially devastating effects on Burlingame’s beauty and quality of life; opposing the Peninsula Avenue overpass project that would have destroyed dozens of Burlingame homes and businesses; and, serving as President of the Burlingame Historical Society, Chair of Burlingame’s Traffic, Safety and Parking Commission, and Vice President of the Burlingame Lions Club. Now to see if that represents progressive city growth or neighborhood balkanization.
In Millbrae, there’s new leadership as appointed ncumbent Anne Oliva finished first in the 4 person election and now has a full four year term to serve the residents, while Reuben Holober grabbed the other opening. In a touching, bittersweet example of happenstance, Holober’s mother (Vice Mayor Nadia) unexpectedly passed away from cancer earlier this year, leading to Oliva’s appointment to fill out the unexpired term. As Councilmember Gina Papan was termed out, that created the two Council openings, and one could make the case that Reuben, in fact, succeeded his mother.
Lastly, those to watch in the future: newly minted Councilman Cameron Johnson (San Carlos) and Councilwoman Liza Normandy (South San Francisco). Are there others that fit that prognostication? Absolutely, but – IMHO - you know that City Council is not the last stop for these two.
O.K., get set - it's less than a year to the June 2014 elections.