Three elected officials vie for 5th District supervisor seat

Chang, Wang have experience, but Simitian's the 800-pound gorilla

California State Sen. Joe Simitian is the 800-pound gorilla in this November's three-way race to represent northern Santa Clara County on the Board of Supervisors.

The two other candidates for the board's 5th District seat -- two-time Cupertino Mayor Kris Huyilan Wang and Cupertino City Councilman Barry Chang -- also have credible records in local elected office.

But neither Chang nor Wang approaches the widespread name recognition enjoyed by the 59-year-old Simitian, gained over three decades in elected office, beginning with the Palo Alto Board of Education and moving through the Palo Alto City Council, county Board of Supervisors, California Assembly and California Senate.

Termed out of the Senate this year, Simitian is circling back to seek for the second time a seat on the county board, where current Supervisor Liz Kniss will be termed out and is herself circling back to vie for a spot on the Palo Alto City Council.

Such are the effects of term limits on the local political landscape.

A run for Congress would be a logical next step for Simitian, but Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, a close friend of Simitian's first elected to Congress in 1992, announced in August she will seek re-election this year. Congress is not subject to term limits, which were imposed on the state Legislature by California voters in 1990.

Chang, who holds a master's in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati, is a Realtor. He was elected to the Cupertino Union School District Board of Education in 1995 and re-elected in 1999. He served four years on the Cupertino Public Safety Commission and was elected to the City Council in 2009.

His long-running, outspoken crusade against the 73-year-old Lehigh Permanente quarry and cement plant led to a public chastising by County Executive Jeffrey Smith last spring over his behavior at two public meetings.

Wang, who has a background in statistics, computer science and business, worked for local companies HP, Sun Microsystems, Visa and Portal Software before entering public service around 2003.

She was elected to the Cupertino City Council in 2003 and re-elected in 2007 and has served on an array of commissions, including the Santa Clara County Parks & Recreation Commission, the Santa Clara County Recycling Waste & Reduction Commission, the Santa Clara County Cities Association and the Environmental Quality Policy Committee of the League of California Cities. She has been an office-holder in several of those groups.

In late-March e-filings with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Chang's campaign showed an ending balance of $11,748; Wang's campaign had an ending balance of $50,000 and Simitian's campaign had an ending balance of $108,489.

Chang did not return email and phone requests for an interview, and Wang said she was unavailable because of an out-of-town trip.

In a phone interview Monday, Simitian noted the county is significantly worse off financially than it was when he previously served on the Board of Supervisors, from 1997 to 2000.

The biggest issues on the horizon for counties, he said, will be health care reform and the planned closure of state juvenile-justice facilities and transfer of funding and supervision responsibilities to the county level.

"We're moving a lot of things back to local government in the probation and incarceration world, both as a way to do the job less expensively and hopefully do a better job," he said.

"The state record on recidivism is nothing to be proud of, and there's a lot of evidence that good programs at the local level can outperform what gets done at the state level.

"It means all the probation offices are going to have to be working in top form and there will be changes in the county jail. It also means the county will have to step up for programs for folks trying to re-enter the community, and get that job done."

Because the north county communities generally are more prosperous than other areas, part of the job is making the case for services here, Simitian said, recalling that in his previous supervisorial stint, his colleague Blanca Alvarado had 45 percent of the county's welfare population while he had just 4.5 percent.

Simitian, a lawyer, said if elected, he'd look forward to being able to live at home and leave the Sacramento policymaking world for the day-to-day operations of government and delivery of services.

Under the rules for the nonpartisan supervisor election, any of the three candidates could win the seat outright if he or she were to get more than 50 percent of the votes on June 5. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will square off in November.


Like this comment
Posted by tiredofitall
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

I like both Simitian and Kniss, but I must say that when I saw that termed-out Simitian was running for the Board of Supervisors, I had a negative reaction, somewhat along the lines of: "Isn't it time to get out (of elected jobs, and get a real job)?"
I am a little surprised and disappointed by my reaction. There are certainly elected officials who are really public servants - they work diligently to solve public policy and govenance issues. Many of those have significent skills in that area. But I am saddened that I have become poisoned by "politicians' for whom I have increasing disgust. Biased, adgendized, self-serving, closed-minded, polarizing, (I could go on). It is for getting rid of them that I favored term limits. But somehow they and their ilk just won't go away. Sigh ...

Like this comment
Posted by experience matters
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Silicon Valley is a diverse and complex region to govern. I would rather have experienced and successful leaders than amateurs. I like the work that Mr. Simitian has done in the past and I will vote for him again.

Like this comment
Posted by kd
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Simitian has helpled lead this state into the worst fiscal crisis ever. It's time for new leadership.

Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

In the supervisors race, vote NO on Joe.

Last Fall there was much lamentation in the media when Gov. Brown vetoed Simitian's SB 29, a bill Joe was claiming would reform red light cameras.

In many of those articles Joe said that the bill would have prohibited “Snitch Tickets.” (If you're not 100% sure of what that they are, Google the term.)

But it wasn't so. The bill DID NOT contain a ban on Snitch Tickets. (The reporters were copying from an erroneous press release sent out by Joe.) SB 29 would have done the opposite of a ban, legitimizing the fake tickets. From the bill:

"(c) This section and Section 40520 do not preclude the issuing agency or the manufacturer or supplier of the automated traffic enforcement system from mailing a courtesy notice or any other notice other than a notice to appear to the registered owner of the vehicle or the alleged violator prior to issuing a notice to appear."

Worse, the phrase "prior to issuing a notice to appear" seems to give the issuing agency more time, limited only by the one-year statute of limitations, to issue a real ticket (a Notice to Appear). The present deadline to issue a real ticket is 15 days.

Many articles said that the bill: "Required adequate signage to notify drivers when red light cameras are in use."

Again, not so. The bill would have DECREASED the number of warning signs at camera enforced intersections, from four per intersection to one or two. (The reporters were copying from Joe's press release, again.)

So why is this important, considering that the bill has been vetoed? Partly, because the bill is back, in 2012, as SB 1303. But more importantly, because it offers us a peek into Joe's mind. Clearly he thinks that he can pull the wool over our eyes - legislate to make it worse for us, but tell us that he is helping us (to appease our anger about the ticket mills on the Peninsula) - and that's it's OK to deceive us in this fashion.

I think that this mind set comes from Joe being in politics too long. Simitian can't change his stripes, so needs to go.

Like this comment
Posted by Enough of Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

"California State Sen. Joe Simitian is the 800-pound gorilla"

Should we call him Joe Simian instead. Vote no on Joe. Enough of Joe (and Liz Kniss) in public office. These parasites feel that they are owed another office after terming out of one.

Like this comment
Posted by Laurel
a resident of Community Center
on May 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Ha! Joe Simian! wonderful!

No matter what he's called, or calls himself, I will not vote for Joe.

Like this comment
Posted by Ignatius Y. Ding
a resident of Mountain View
on May 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Vote for someone with a track record, not a long resume. please see:

"Barry Chang - Promises Made, Promises Kept"

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor Next Door
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2012 at 12:39 am

The advantage of being a California state senator is not limited to getting so many political contributions from both unions and business establishments, but also cushy paychecks from the state, including tax-free per diem of $145 per day over the Memorial Day weekend by moving meeting schedules around. The state legislators add $64K on their day-off to the California deficit.

Clever? You bet!


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Southgate

on Jun 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

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