By Renee Batti
Big differences in beliefs on government's proper role in our lives, and on local government's effectiveness in fulfilling its role, separate Don Horsley and Michael Stogner. One key thing on which they find common ground, though, is that each wants to represent District 3 on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Horsley has held the board's District 3 seat since 2010, and is running for a second four-year term. Mr. Stogner ran against Mr. Horsley in 2010, and ran for the District 1 seat in 2011.
District 3 includes Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, parts of Menlo Park and Belmont, San Carlos, and large coastal and unincorporated areas. This will be the first by-district supervisor race, which means only residents of District 3 can choose the district representative.
While Mr. Horsley has played a key role in county governance and law enforcement for decades, Mr. Stogner's involvement has been primarily as a government watchdog. A San Carlos businessman who has also worked as a victim's advocate, he lists corruption, unfunded pension liabilities, and what he sees as the lack of oversight and review of government practices as areas he would focus on as a supervisor.
A retired sheriff receiving a pension, Mr. Horsley promised not to accept a supervisor salary when he ran for office in 2010 because the county was facing a structural deficit, he said. But after about two years, he began receiving the salary, noting that the county's fiscal health had improved and that taking a salary was justified.
He changed course in the face of public criticism once the matter made headlines in the local newspapers, which his challenger, Mr. Stogner, takes credit for. "I'm the one who got Don to get back on track after he broke his political promise," Mr. Stogner said in an email.
Mr. Horsley said he intends to accept the $125,000 annual salary if re-elected. "Basically, I figure I saved the county half a million dollars by not taking (a salary) in my first term," he noted.
While Mr. Stogner says he won't be taking campaign contributions or spending money for mailers and signs, Mr. Horsley raised about $19,250 from Jan. 1 through March 17, and spent nearly $6,600 during that period, according to his campaign disclosure statement.
Mr. Horsley served as county sheriff for nearly 14 years before retiring in 2007. He then was elected to the Sequoia Healthcare District board, on which he served until being sworn in as a supervisor.
During a second term, he said, priorities would include upgrading farmworker housing, which would improve the lives of many migrant workers "who really aren't migrant anymore" but whose presence is critical to the county's agricultural sector; improving facilities and services of the Cordilleras Mental Health Center in unincorporated Redwood City to "help the mentally ill people (served) there deal with their illness and be reunited with their families"; and traffic management on the Coastside.
He said he will also continue to work on resolving traffic problems — for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists — on Alpine Road in the South County.
During his first term, he said, he helped to secure funding to reconfigure a section of the Alpine Road/Interstate 280 interchange to make it safer for bicyclists after the November 2010 death of a bicyclist riding in that location.
Another South County project he found funding for was a long-term solution to a roadway problem in Los Trancos Woods, he said. Although the county's public works department planned to fix a portion of Ramona Road with a project that would have been cheaper, residents were concerned the planned project wouldn't provide the stability needed and the road would be in danger of being washed out, he said.
Mr. Horsley met with the community and county staff, brought in an outside soils engineer to assess the situation, and managed to secure the emergency funding for a project that is likely to provide more stability in the long term, he said.
"I believe that corruption exists most everywhere and it is up to the citizens to stop it where possible," Mr. Stogner says in his opening statement on his campaign website. "... I am committed to substantially reducing it in our County. The Supervisors are responsible for this issue," the statement concludes.
Although he's never served in public office, Mr. Stogner is a regular presence in the county supervisors' chambers and at meetings of other public agencies. His has also been a recognizable voice when public officials are in the spotlight for their missteps: For example, when Sheriff Greg Munks was detained in a Las Vegas brothel during a 2007 law enforcement sting, Mr. Stogner publicly and repeatedly called for his resignation.
Mr. Stogner supports creation of a Citizens Oversight Committee for the county composed of "ordinary citizens" to keep an eye on government practices.
He opposes the county's participation in regional and broader-based efforts, such as the One Bay Area Plan and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, in favor of maintaining local control of decisions and policies.
As the county has grown and become a much more expensive place to live, Mr. Stogner says county residents are "being pushed to the limit with taxes" and he opposes any increase. Instead, cost-cutting measures should be put into effect, including outsourcing the county's building and planning departments and reducing the county jail's population of people awaiting trial.