Dick Spotswood: Race for Sears’ Marin supervisor seat will be interesting
Author: Dick Spotswood
Date: July 16th 2019
Published: Marin Independent Journal
The political scene is busting out all over.
In Southern Marin’s 3rd Supervisorial District, 10-year veteran county supervisor Kate Sears announced she won’t run for reelection. Her term expires at the end of 2020. The race begins with the March 3 first-round nonpartisan primary election. If no candidate obtains a majority, then the top-two candidates run off in November balloting coinciding with the high-turnout presidential contest.
Within hours of Sears’ allegedly unexpected announcement, Mill Valley Council member Stephanie Moulton-Peters said she was running and already has the rudiments of her campaign in place. Based on her 12 years on Mill Valley’s council, Moulton-Peters is expected to be similar in style and substance to Sears’ low-keyed tenure.
Despite the head start, the race is hardly a slam dunk for Moulton-Peters as she — whether fair or not — will be perceived as carrying the same baggage as Sears.
While a passionate leader on climate change, Sears was accused of ignoring wildland fire prevention, traffic congestion, use of Strawberry’s former seminary and public employee pension reform.
It’s time for potential candidates to surface and get their campaigns in gear well before Nov. 6 when filing for all supervisorial post closes unless an incumbent, like Sears, doesn’t run. Then filing closes Dec. 11. Supervisorial terms are expiring for Katie Race in the 2nd District (Ross Valley, Greenbrae and portions of San Rafael) and for Dennis Rodoni in the Fourth District (West Marin, West Novato, Corte Madera, Larkspur and San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood). Both Rodoni and Rice will run for reelection.
In the Third District (Mill Valley, Tiburon, Sausalito, Belvedere, Strawberry, Tamalpais Valley), there are a number of other potentially viable candidates.
Mill Valley Council member Jessica Jackson is both a national social justice advocate and her city’s leader regarding vegetation management and wildfire prevention and mitigation.
Tiburon Council member Holli Thier’s focus has been making the peninsula safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. If she runs, the business woman and attorney will be the first Tiburon Peninsula residing supervisor in 28 years.
Despite running against Sears before and coming up short, Mill Valley’s Susan Kirsch can’t be counted out. A passionate advocate for guided growth and against stack-and-pack housing, Kirsch has evolved into a statewide advocate for retention of local government’s land use control.
In Novato, Councilman Josh Friday surprisingly announced he’ll be resigning later this summer. The former Navy officer and environmental leader received a plum assignment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. He’s headed to Sacramento to fill the $209,943 a year post of chief service officer at California Volunteers, effective Sept. 1.
Fryday’s term as a council member expires at year’s end. He was expected to run for a new term from Novato’s new Fifth Council District which includes Hamilton, Pacheco Valley and Loma Verde neighborhoods. Marie Hoch, Hamilton Homeowners Association president and a prominent Novato real estate agent, has already thrown her hat in the ring. Filing remains open until Aug. 14.
Fryday is one of Marin’s few local elected officials with a realistic chance of moving up the political ladder. He’s been a first-rate innovative council member. He will now leave his post in a positive manner, allowing him to easily return when a state or federal legislative post opens up.
There will likely be a push to fill the last four months of Fryday’s four-year term. Under California laws, it appears Fryday has a vote. He’d be gumming up an otherwise laudable departure if he becomes involved in anointing his successor in Novato’s new 5th District.
It would be better to follow an old Novato tradition. When a council member resigns or dies close to the end of his or her term, the best practice is to appoint a former mayor as interim council member if they pledge not to run in the upcoming election.
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