Sher, Shannon define their differences
Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 30, 1996

ELECTION: Sher, Shannon define their differences

Race of experienced legislator, newcomer has become a study in contrasts

Patrick Shannon says he agrees with Byron Sher on many issues. But the two candidates for the 11th State Senate seat have some significant differences which fall along more traditional party lines.

Shannon, like Sher, is pro-choice. He is also in favor of education reform, and wants to keep environmental protections in place while helping businesses to help the economy. And the young Republican challenger, also like Sher, says he is against extremism in state government.

Because Sher and Shannon faced off earlier in the year during the March special election, which Sher won, the two have seen and heard a lot of each other on the campaign trail over the months.

One of the biggest issues to surface in this race is campaign financing.

Shannon notes that while both he and Sher support Proposition 208, the campaign finance reform measure, he is the only one who is voluntarily abiding by those limits now, which includes an overall $400,000 cap on spending. Sher said he will likely remain within the proposed $400,000 cap, but he "reserves the right" to spend more if he is targeted by any last minute Republican Party mailers, like what happened in March.

During that election, Sher was targeted by some last-minute mailers from an independent Republican committee, which made questionable allegations about Sher. Shannon disowned the mailers and apologized to Sher on election day.

Will the so-called third party mailers happen again?

"I have tried to prevent that again," Shannon. "I would be shocked if another piece came."

"I hope he is right on that," Sher said. "That's an area (of campaign finance law) that needs to be cleaned up."

Both the state parties have a strong interest in this Senate seat, given the current narrow Democratic majority in the Senate. Bill Lockyer was concerned enough to have spent election night last March at Sher's campaign headquarters. And the Republicans would dearly like to reclaim a Peninsula Senate seat that long had been theirs, and held with distinction by Becky Morgan and, more recently, Tom Campbell.

Jon Matonis is the Libertarian Party candidate for the state Senate seat. He did not attend recent candidate forums.

Byron Sher

Age: 68 Residence: Stanford

Occupation: State Senator

Background: Sher was a Democratic member of the state Assembly for 15 years before being elected to the state Senate in March. Prior to his state experience, he was a Palo Alto City Council member for nine years.

Where he stands: Sher notes that he and Shannon have strong differences on some state propositions, especially Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, and on other issues.

Sher is strongly opposed to Proposition 209 and notes that "Becky Morgan is against Proposition 218 (limits on local government tax assessments) and Patrick is for it." Morgan, a former Republican state senator, is the co-chairman of Shannon's campaign.

Sher also notes that Shannon has never held elective office.

Finally, Sher says he supports Sen. Bill Lockyer, the current Democratic Senate majority leader, while if Shannon is elected, his party leader in the senate would be Rob Hurtt of Orange County, the leader of the conservative wing of the Senate Republicans. Hurtt, says Sher, is an example of the extremism that has come to the state Legislature.

"Who would each of us vote for to be the leader (in the Senate)?" Sher said.

Sher also defends his background in supporting business. "I've represented local businesses well," Sher said during a recent forum. He noted that the locally-based American Electronics Association voted him the legislator of the year in 1993.

Patrick Shannon

Age: 32

Residence: Redwood City

Occupation: Former aide to Gov. Pete Wilson

Background: As a criminal justice advisor to the governor, Shannon wrote legislation which authorized the death penalty for people who commit murder during a carjacking or a drive-by shooting.

Where he stands: Shannon agrees that there are significant differences between him and Sher beyond his stance as a pro-choice, moderate Republican.

Shannon supports Proposition 209. He said that he and Sher are both committed to crime prevention legislation, but that he has supported stronger legislation to punish "the worst of the worst criminals."

Shannon also said he wants to go farther than Sher in supporting charter schools as a form of education reform. He wants to life the current cap of 100 such schools statewide. Shannon notes that the Garfield School in North Fair Oaks has been a success as a charter school.

And Shannon says there is a significant difference between Sher and himself on business legislation because he is much more willing to support pro-business bills than Sher is.

"I am running to succeed Becky Morgan and Tom Campbell" in the Senate, Shannon said. Morgan and Campbell, who previously served the Palo Alto area in the upper house, are Shannon's campaign co-chairmen.

--Don Kazak 

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