In a small birthday celebration with friends and family at Councilmember John Seybart’s home Monday night, board member Shelly Masur, 47, announced that she would be running for San Mateo County Supervisor.
Supervisor Rose Jacobs-Gibson’s District 4 seat will become vacant in January 2013. , Memo Morantes and Ernie Schmidt have also announced their candidacy for the seat.
Masur has been a school board member for six years, and said she wasn’t planning to run for another office.
“I hadn’t been thinking ‘what’s the next office after school board,’ so I was very surprised and very flattered,” Masur said of someone approaching her in March asking her to consider running.
As the Executive Director of Teen Talk, a health and sexual education non-profit, plus her role on the school board, Masur has been very active in the community, but she said she had to consult with her fellow board members and superintendent first.
“I had to think what was the right thing to do because I believe we’re all doing a good job on the school board,” Masur said. “But the support I got was very positive.”
“I am very excited for [Masur] and for our community,” said Redwood City School District board president Alisa MacAvoy. “She will do a great job serving the whole county in that position.”
Councilmember Seybart noted that the demographics of District 4, which covers Redwood City, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, “closely mimics those of the Redwood City School District which she already covers.”
Bye-bye to the School Board?
Because the position wouldn’t open up until 2013, Masur still has more than a full year to serve even if she were elected.
And her fellow board member, MacAvoy, and Superintendent Jan Christensen have thrown their full support behind her and attended her birthday party.
“She’s fully capable of running a campaign and concentrating on school board duties,” MacAvoy said. “She just ran a school board campaign and was still able to do her trustee duties.”
If Masur were to be elected, the school board would either hold a special election or appoint someone, the less expensive option because a special election cost would be billed to the district.
Why Vote for Masur?
As all five candidates in the emphasized, balancing the county budget was the priority.
As the local arm of the state, the county must provide key services to residents while decreasing the deficit and maintaining a healthy reserve, Masur said.
The Redwood City School District has faced similar difficult budget balancing decisions for the past five out of six years, with reserves of 3.2 percent hovering just above the state minimum of 3 percent.
As a school board member, Masur and the other trustees have already worked with the county to provide key services to Redwood City students and their families.
“There are many collaborative efforts we’ve taken to leverage essential county services,” Masur said.
She cites the district’s community schools, which strive to care for the student outside the classroom as well. Students at the Community Schools—, , , Garfield School and —not only receive academic instruction and support, but also have the ability to connect parents and families with social services for their parents and families through partnerships with government agencies, non-profits and other organizations.
Particularly in District 4 areas of East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks are the highest pockets of unemployment. Masur stressed the importance of the 14 local Chambers of Commerce in the county to support new and existing businesses. She also wants to continue working with the San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA) to support the larger county businesses.
“Economic development certain is at the top of everyone’s list,” Masur said.
A critical service that the county can provide to inmates and members in county health programs is job training to ensure that they’re prepared for the real world once they exit the county’s programs.
“It’s one of the county’s main responsibilities and that’s her background: public health,” Seybart said.
As the Executive Director of Teen Talk, “public health is her whole career outside of education,” MacAvoy added. “A big part of what the county does is public health, so she’ll definitely bring a lot to that position.”
Masur said that a large responsibility is ensuring that state mandated services are provided, even despite state cuts.
“If I could wave a magic wand to ensure that everyone has health care, and that kids and families get support when they go to school, I would,” Masur said. “But the reality is that we have to make some tough decisions.”
Another example she pointed to is the additional burden due to the state realignment of jails.
The county didn’t receive money for construction of the jail, so that was another issue that the county would have to tackle.
She agreed that the county should provide on-site services to reduce recidivism, the state’s reasoning for sending former inmates to local jails.
Councilmember Jeff Gee added that a different perspective Masur could bring is as a mother of young children. Her three children attend or have attended schools in the Redwood City School District.
“With a young family, she understands the needs of families in the community,” Gee said.
In It for the Long Haul
San Mateo County is the only county in the state that does county-wide voting, meaning all residents can vote for the District 4 seat even if they don’t live in that area. This requires candidates to reach a much larger constituency.
“She’s always out there in the community, meeting with various constituencies,” MacAvoy said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of fundraising and going out there and meeting people,” Masur said. “And I’m ready to do that.”