This choice is sitting on the doorsteps of voters in the 21st Assembly District race for the termed-out seat of current Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, who has done a creditable job of representing the area and addressing issues constructively.
The leading candidates are Democrat Rich Gordon, a longtime member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and Republican Greg Conlon, a retired accountant and lawyer who served eight years on the state Public Utilities Commission, including terms as chair.
Voters face a clear choice between Gordon and Conlon: Both acknowledge they diametrically disagree on most issues. It is Conlon's third bid for state or federal office, following a 2002 bid for state treasurer and a 2008 bid for U.S. Congress. His main themes are job creation and opposition to surface or elevated high-speed-rail lines on the Peninsula.
But Gordon clearly has the edge in hands-on, real-world elected office and statewide leadership roles.
In addition to his 12-year track record of addressing problems and building coalitions as a county supervisor, Gordon has statewide connections through his leadership of the county supervisors' association. And he has direct community-level experience as director of the nonprofit Youth & Family Assistance.
He has a solid environmental record, and puts a high priority on reforming state government, including repealing the two-thirds requirement for approving the budget, easing term limits, creating open primaries and tightening the initiative process — intended to help rebuild a missing "moderate middle" in state politics.
Gordon's consensus-building style has won support across the political spectrum from people who have been impressed by his ability to reach out to adversaries and craft solutions to difficult problems. Although he has had union support he supports reform of the public-employee pension system and the two-tier system for retirement benefits currently in place in San Mateo County.
Gordon is highly knowledgeable about high-speed rail and advocates a new oversight structure for the governing board, with greater transparency and local representation.
He has the knowledge and experience to be immediately effective in Sacramento, just what will be needed to help heal California's crippling problems. Vote for Rich Gordon for Assembly.