After nine long months of campaigning, incoming County Supervisor Warren Slocum of Redwood City says he is ready to "roll up his sleeves and get to work improving the quality of life" for San Mateo County residents this week.
Slocum will be sworn in to office Monday night as the new supervisor representing District 4, which includes Redwood City, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and the unincorporated areas of North Fair Oaks and Oak Knoll.
Slocum took time out to talk with Patch Friday about some of his early priorities he hopes to start work on immediately as he takes office this week.
Slocum said, one of his biggest areas of focus will be helping to "modernize County government" and balancing the County's budget - including, specifically, planning how the County should utilize revenue from Measure A increases sales tax on all goods and services purchased in San Mateo by one half-cent for 10 years.
"With the passage of Measure A, the voters said they value the services the County provides, and they basically gave us 10 year to enjoy this added revenue - but I think the challenge is, that doesn't solve our fiscal problems," Slocum said. "I think we have to work to create to work a sustainable, balanced budget, and that's going to require some difficult decisions."
Slocum said, he thinks modernizing some areas of County government can help efficiency, as well as same the County some money.
For example, he said, "$10 million can be saved in the hospital area if we could [switch to] electronic patient records, and get bills out the door faster and more accurately," as well as other technology projects and upgrades he hopes to help the County identify.
Slocum said he is also interested in working with County manager John Maltbie on how he plans to restructure and reorganize County government.
"That will be of great interest to me - how do we restructure our County government for the future, while retaining quality services?"
Slocum said a special interest for him personally will also be working to help our County's veterans.
"Being an army veteran myself, I'd like to do something in the area to help the veterans of our county, be it job fairs or [anything else I can do to help them]," he said.
One area of particular interest Slocum said he would like to work on, being a resident of Redwood City himself, is the unincorporated area of North Fair Oaks, which falls in between the city borders of Redwood City, Menlo Park and Atherton.
North Fair Oaks has had a long and difficult history in San Mateo County over the past few decades, being that it is home to both affluent areas as well as more run-down areas with significant crime, industrial noise and blight.
"North Fair Oaks is big at the top of my list," Slocum told Patch. "I really want to help move the Community Plan forward, but there are two sides to every story. It's hard to get 20,000 people to agree on specifics of anything."
He continued, "I think that step one is to secure internal County services to help work on issues. If you want to address the issues of dumping, parking, crime and flooding, you have to have to County resources committed to do those jobs."
"It can't be an afterthought - there has to be dedicated resources to be able to address these problems in a resourceful way. I am committed to working with my colleagues on the Board and the County manager to help secure those resources to help move the Community Plan forward."
He added, "I believe one of the reasons these issues have continued is that there hasn't been those dedicated resources and attention, day in and day out. My challenge is to establish communications, rebuild trust, and demonstrate that the County can deal with these things."
Overall, Slocum said he is happy to roll up his sleeves and get to work this week.
"I would like to say to all of Patch's readers that I'm very excited about the opportunity to take office on Monday. After such as long process of campaigning, it's really going to be a humbling experience, in the least," he said. "But, the fun part starts now, because it's no longer just talking about issues in a theoretical way; now, it's rolling up the sleeves and getting to work to improve the quality of life in North Fair Oaks and all other areas of the county. So I'm very excited to start my job."
What do you think of the early priorities Slocum has identified? Are there other issues that you think need focus by the County Supervisors? Tell us in the comments below.