Cover Story - October 13, 2010

Runoff election for county treasurer

The winner of the Nov. 2 election for San Mateo County treasurer-tax collector will have oversight of an investment portfolio of about $2.4 billion, where county agencies and local school districts deposit their funds for day-to-day operations.

Four candidates competed in the June 2010 primary election to take Treasurer Lee Buffington's place. Because none of them received more than 50 percent of the vote, the two leading candidates are in a runoff election.

Sandie Arnott, the county's deputy treasurer, received 38 percent of the vote. She has had a 21-year career with the county, starting as an executive assistant, according to biographical information provided to The Almanac.

Dave Mandelkern, who received 30 percent of the vote, is a serial entrepreneur who took public a high-technology company and was twice elected to the governing board of the county community college district, according to material provided to The Almanac.

The county's portfolio lost $155 million in September 2008 in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers investment bank, with a resulting loss of $6.5 million for the local high school district and $3.5 million for the Menlo Park City School District.

Both candidates told The Almanac in May that they support tighter investment policies and that the risk is too great for school districts to be making independent investment decisions for their operating funds.

As for how to invest the 20 percent of the portfolio not required to be in government securities, both candidates support seeking outside advice. Mr. Mandelkern suggested pooling with a larger fund to lower market transaction costs and gain access to otherwise unaffordable fund-management software.


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