The silly season is in full swing and the filing period for local offices closed last Friday. Counter to historically somnolent elections, several local ballots are crowded and competitive.
In the north end of San Mateo County, the city of South San Francisco will have a knock-down, drag-out fight for open council seats with at least one incumbent retiring, an appointee attempting to capture a seat by election and a veteran taking a half-step out the door.
The South San Francisco ballot is split this year with three 4-year council seats available as well as one 2-year seat vacated by former councilmember turned Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, who won state office last November.
But the two-year seat remains available and has drawn three candidates including Planning Commissioner and Attorney Carlos Martin. Martin will face four-term veteran Karyl Matsumoto, who is seeking only a two-year extension of her tenure on the council. The third candidate is local activist Collin Post, a teamster who made an unsuccessful bid for a council seat in 1997.
Martin, while a planning commissioner, is relatively new to the political scene in South San Francisco and facing a known commodity with significant name recognition. Matsumoto is only the second woman to ever serve on the Council and one of the few Asians that has served on the Council in a city where over a third of the population is Asian. In turn, Martin would replace the only Latino ever to serve on the Council in that of Pedro Gonzalez, who is not seeking another term.
In the race for the three open, four-year term seats on the city council there are many familiar faces among eight contenders - possibly a record for South City.
Local realtor and planning commission chair Rick Ochsenhirt is making his third attempt to run for the Council, the last having been in 2003. Ochsenhirt had also applied for the open appointment last fall, but lost out to fellow commissioner Gupta, who is also seeking a council seat.
A former planning commissioner, John Prouty, is also seeking a council seat. Prouty, like Ochsenhirt, is a realtor and also applied for the open appointment last fall. Community volunteer William “Bill” Lock has also filed for one of the four-year seats. Lock has little apparent support and it is unclear if he will be a factor in the race. The same is likely the case with full-time business student Kate Mackay, who is also running.
Current school board trustee Liza Normandy has also thrown her hat into the ring. Normandy is serving her second term on the South San Francisco School Board where she has served twice as president. Normandy has garnered a great deal of support, including endorsements from Matsumoto and Rich Garbarino - the only councilmember who does not have an election this year. In addition, Normandy is supported by all of her fellow school board members as well as other local elected representatives, outpacing her competitors. Should she win, Normandy would be the third woman to ever serve on the South San Francisco city council in over 100 years. And should Matsumoto win, it would also be the first time two women would be serving on that council simultaneously.
But Normandy will also face fellow school trustee Maurice Dupra Goodman, who is also serving his second term in that position.
Finally, veteran councilmember Mark Addiego is seeking his third consecutive term on the council. Addiego is a veteran of South San Francisco politics, having first been elected to the council at age 24 in 1980, taking about a 20-year break and returning to office in 2005.
Addiego is likely a lock to return to the council, but among the two other possibilities it remains unclear though the odds and support favor Gupta and Normandy.
All of the candidate statements for the eleven contenders can be viewed online as local voters will have much to sort through, which may also help the incumbents and those whose names have appeared on the ballot before.
South San Francisco’s council race is but one example of perhaps four local races that have attracted numerous candidates. The others are Burlingame, Belmont and San Carlos.
The silly season will be a good one this year. Stay tuned.
Contact Bruce Balshone at firstname.lastname@example.org