The League of Women Voter's will be sponsoring in the San Mateo County Supervisor race at Menlo Park City Hall on Thursday, May 3, 2012, at 7pm. In a race dominated by press releases regarding endorsements and contributions, it will be an invaluable opportunity for voters to hear specifics as to how the candidates will approach the significant issues facing the County and region.
Presently, San Mateo County and the Silicon Valley appear to be emerging well from the recession. In a recent survey conducted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, 84% of Silicon Valley CEOs indicated they foresee job growth in the Silicon Valley as improving or unchanged in 2012. The world eagerly awaits Facebook's IPO as the company expands and adds jobs in Menlo Park, while in Cupertino Apple's expansion plans are underway. And you may have missed it, but quietly down in Santa Clara, Texas personal computing company Dell, has been expanding their research and development facilities, adding jobs in California as opposed to Texas.
Some have questioned whether the current optimistic economic outlook is based on a bubble, or on a trend that can be sustained. The selection of our next San Mateo County Supervisor may not be not a trivial factor in determining the answer to that question. The new Supervisor's actions and decisions will contribute to the entrepreneurial business climate, transportation corridor, and tax structure underlying the health of the region's innovation ecosystem.
For despite the technology sector's apparent rebound, San Mateo County is still bogged down by the symptoms of the recession. According to acting County Manager John Maltbie, the County faces a 28 million dollar deficit in the next fiscal year beginning July 1st. Though real estate prices appear to be recovering in South County, large numbers of families still face mortgages that are underwater and foreclosures of their homes, as well as cuts in social services. The park system continues to be threatened. School districts budgets continue to be shaved. And the county still must decide whether it can effectively implement and monitor what critics describe as a public safety gamble, new rehabilitation early release programs designed for non-violent property crime offenders aimed at reducing recidivism rates. According to findings in the October 11, 2010, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report, felons who have committed non-violent property crimes, including burglaries, have the highest overall recidivism rate within three years of release, at 71.9%.
And these aren't the only challenges facing the newly elected County Supervisor. The same survey of Silicon Valley CEO's listed the following recommendations as top priorities for local governments to strengthen the Silicon Valley's business climate: 1) improve K-12 education; 2) reduce public pension costs, 3) approve more affordable housing home developments; and 4) ease local street and road congestion.
The education challenge is an interesting one for the supervisor candidates, as they don’t technically have the powers the County Board of Education enjoys. They do however have power over the implementation of pre-k child care and after school programs that research indicate have a direct impact on in classroom education performance.
Acting on all of the challenges mentioned above will require that the new Supervisor possess significant pragmatic problem solving and political skills, as well as a clear vision for the future. The League of Women's forum is a great opportunity for the supervisor candidates to make their case to the voters that they possess the attributes and the specific substantive plans, required for the task.
The League of Women Voter's Forum is perfectly timed, as mail in ballots will be arriving in mailboxes shortly after May 7th. The forum also will be rebroadcast on local public access television stations as well. All are invited to attend.
You can also submit questions for the forum online .