Campaigning for election to the is not a charge that Menlo Park resident Memo Morantes takes lightly.
The 64-year-old said he sees this as an opportunity to continue contributing to the county where he has made his home for nearly 50 years.
Morantes, a self-employed insurance broker, said the extensive amount of time he has served in community service organizations has properly prepared him for the upcoming June election.
"The board of supervisors is a place to continue the works I've been doing for almost 30 years," he said.
Those works include serving on the San Mateo County County Board of Education, co-chairing the county Latino Leadership Council as well as being a member of the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce.
Morantes said, if elected, his close connection with the local business community will factor into his strategy to solve the county's budget deficit, which is widely regarded as its most glaring issue. As the county struggles with ways to solve the $50 million gap between spending and revenues, Morantes said engaging a network of the chambers of commerce from cities within the county is key to stimulating the local economy.
Tapping into the existing relationships between local chambers and independent employers is crucial to achieving economic recovery, he said.
"Small business owners are the spark that will get us through these hard times, and get us through creating more jobs," said Morantes.
He also said the board should look into the possibility of consolidating some of its departments, in order to ensure that county money is being spent efficiently.
And though he said he was not familiar enough with the county's operations to comment on which departments should be considered for consolidation, he said he believes the current difficult economy can be viewed as an opportunity to investigate how effectively business is being done.
"There is always room for improvement," he said.
It would be wise to consider extending the county's perspective on its budget outlook to a multiple year view, rather than solely on the current and upcoming fiscal year, he said.
And despite the existing budget issues, the county should move forward with the current plan to build a new jail in Redwood City, said Morantes.
The total cost of building the new jail is expected to be between $100 and $165 million, and the annual operating expense is projected to be about $44 million, according to public records.
But focusing on implementing programs at the jail that help reduce recidivism rates may help lower the long term operating costs, said Morantes.
"Hopefully we can do a better job on not seeing them back again," he said, of inmates staying out of jail upon their release.
And as the election race heats up on the course of the coming months, Morantes said he believes the county should seriously consider altering the way it selects its supervisors.
Lawyers' Committe for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit in April, attempting to change the fashion supervisors are elected from the current at-large system which awards the candidate who receives the most votes.
The lawsuit proposes shifting to a district-based election, which would give more voice to the communities that may feel their interests are not being addressed on the county board.
"I'm for a district election because that gives us an opportunity for those district to have representation," said Morantes.
San Mateo County is the only county in California that does not operate a district-based election system.
Morantes said that if given the opportunity, he will address those, as well as variety of issues plaguing the county from a unique perspective.
"I'm willing to think outside the box," he said.
Morantes is vying for one of the seats on the county board currently occupied by supervisors , or .