Interestingly, neither redistricting nor the new primary system has resulted in more competitive races in our region. Democratic legislative incumbents, led by longtime Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, face relatively weak and minimally-funded opponents. The only race that comes close to offering voters a choice between two qualified candidates is for the State Senate seat being vacated by Joe Simitian, where Assemblyman Jerry Hill faces former Assemblywoman Sally Leiber, both Democrats.
Given the mess in both Washington and Sacramento, it is ironic that Republicans have not put forth credible candidates, although our local districts are so heavily Democratic as to make Republican chances almost nil.
Previously published editorials can be found at www.PaloAltoOnline.com. Here is a summary of our recommendations:
Jerry Hill for state Senate
In a race that will almost certainly be repeated in the fall, Assembly member Jerry Hill, who has been representing the northern portion of San Mateo County, is our pick to replace Joe Simitian. Hill and Leiber are both solid, smart Democrats with independent streaks. The two have similar positions on most issues and either would provide outstanding representation for our area, but we prefer Hill's background as a business person and his track record as a collaborative legislator willing and able to reach across the aisle and try to find compromise.
Rich Gordon for state Assembly
Three inexperienced contenders are challenging incumbent Rich Gordon in this race, and in our view, none is qualified to sit in the state legislature. Gordon brings long experience to his quest for a second term, after serving 13 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and one term in the Assembly. In his freshman term, Gordon has seen 15 of the 19 bills he sponsored signed into law, an enviable record for any legislator, regardless of experience.
Joe Simitian for Board of Supervisors
After serving in virtually every public office available short of state-wide office, termed-out state Senator Joe Simitian is running to regain the seat on the Board of Supervisors that he gave up years ago. In Simitian's perfect world, he would be sliding into the Congressional seat held by Anna Eshoo, but she has given no indication that she is any hurry to retire, blocking Simitian's ambitions for now. In the meantime, he will put his lengthy legislative experience to work, saying he is ready to work on health care reform and helping the county as it takes on more responsibility for housing adult and juvenile offenders due to state budget cuts.
Colin, Sevely for Superior Court
Editor's Note: The Palo Alto Weekly initially endorsed Steven Pogue instead of Cynthia Sevely, but rescinded the endorsement on May 25 after learning that Pogue had been a financial backer of Prop. 8, the measure changing the California constitution to ban gay marriage. See May 25 story explaining the rescission at http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=25528 Paul Colin, Chris Cobey and Alex Cerul are vying for the seat held by retiring Judge Jerome E. Brock, while Cynthia A. Sevely and Steven R. Pogue are seeking to replace Neal A. Cabrinha, who is also retiring.
For Judge Brock's seat, we find Paul Colin and Chris Cobey equally qualified but believe Colin's solid experience and reputation as a deputy district attorney edges out Cobey's many years at a large business firm. Colin has prosecuted a wide range of criminal cases, including sexual assault, sexual predators, drug dealing, and many others. Law is Colin's third career, after stints in bookkeeping and high-tech before graduating from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston in 1992.
In the race for the second judgeship, our choice is Steve Pogue, a general-practice attorney who graduated from San Jose State and Lincoln University Law School in San Jose. Many of Pogue's clients are immigrants, and we believe Pogue would bring a unique background to the court as well as a sensitivity to the average citizen that we find refreshing. His opponent, Cynthia Sevely, is a deputy district attorney and an experienced prosecutor, but we were less impressed with her judicial temperament during our interview.
Yes on county Measure A
When the Board of Supervisors decided in 2010 to give the Sheriff control over most of the county's jails some, including Supervisor Liz Kniss, believed the move violated the county charter and needed a public vote.
So after two years of operating the jails without voter approval, a lawsuit has forced the Supervisors to put the issue to the voters May 5. If approved, as expected, Measure A will reaffirm the 2010 restructuring and give supervisors the ability to change oversight of the jails in the future.
Supervisors say with the Sheriff in charge, the county is saving $7 million a year. We don't see a downside here and urge voters to vote yes on Measure A.