Will the Supervisors let us have an election?

Editorial

Posted by
Tue, June 15, 2010


There are some great candidates interested in running for the seat that Mark Church will leave in January 2011—if the Supervisors will let us have an election—reports the Mercury News.

Burlingame Vice Mayor Terry Nagel, Millbrae Council Member Gina Papan, San Mateo County Community College District Board Member Richard Holober and San Mateo Unified High School District Board President David Pine confirmed Monday they are considering a run for Church’s seat if a special election is held.

The argument for not holding a special election is the county could not afford the cost. The rationale against the Board of Supervisors appointing an interim leader is it circumvents the democratic process, particularly since once in office, incumbents tend to remain there. The last time anyone can remember a challenger ousting an entrenched incumbent was when Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, won her seat on the board in 1980.

After Jerry Hill was elected to the state Assembly in 2008, the board appointed Carole Groom to his seat, provoking outcry.

[...]

Church did not return calls for comment on whether he would resign early before taking his new office.

Ironically, Church will be the county’s top elections official.

Even appointed incumbents have a tremendous advantage in elections for Supervisor. None of the five candidates for the seat Rich Gordon is leaving this year got more than 40% of the vote. Meanwhile, Carole Groom, whose appointment many regarded as a gesture of contempt for the democratic process, waltzed in to victory with over 75% of the vote.

If the Supervisors appoint Church’s successor, a majority of the Board of Supervisors will have gone into their first election as appointed incumbents.