Last week we caught up with Mark Simon, Political Columnist for the San Mateo Daily Journal. Mark is a highly respected Bay Area journalist with his finger on the mid-peninsula political climate and someone whose insights we value deeply as real estate professionals trying to stay on top of ever-changing local housing policy.
Our conversation focused primarily around Redwood City’s transition to district elections versus at-large elections, which has residents voting for one single council member to represent their respective district rather than voting for all 7 positions, as we did previously with at-large elections. The switch was the result of a threatened lawsuit by Malibu attorney, Kevin Shenkman, who contended that at-large elections made it too difficult for Latinos, who represent almost 40% of the city’s population, to gain representation in city council. At the time of his complaint to the city in 2017, Alicia Aguirre was the only Latinx member of council. Now, having had one council election (2020) under the new voting system, Redwood City has successfully voted in a new Latinx council member in the 24-year old democratic socialist (self-identified), Lissette Espinoza-Garnica. In the same election, another progressive was appointed to council in Planning Commissioner, Michael Smith.
Along with incumbent progressive activist Diana Reddy, these two new council members provide a new look to city council that will have a significant impact on how issues like housing development and private property rights are approached. It will be interesting to see how this next term unfolds, and how our new district voting system will continue to change the makeup of our local government, with another election coming up in 2022. One thing is for sure – we will be calling on Mark to help us make sense of it all.
We highly encourage you to follow Mark Simon’s work with the San Mateo Daily Journal. There is no one better when it comes to covering local politics.
Thank you for taking the time to share your insights, Mark!