Finding support on both sides of the fence

A profile of Rich Gordon, candidate for the Assembly's 21st District seat

This is one in a series of stories on candidates for the state Assembly's 21st District seat in the June 8 Democratic primary.

By Renee Batti

Almanac News Editor

Ask Rich Gordon, a candidate for the state Assembly's 21st District seat, what makes him think he can bring people together and help end the divisiveness in Sacramento, and he's likely to point to his endorsements.

The endorsement list includes well over 100 elected officials -- from U.S. congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier down to local special district board members. But more to his point is the representation of both sides of the political fence that the list reflects, said Mr. Gordon, a three-term member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Perhaps his proudest example is the people Mr. Gordon worked with several years ago when he chaired a group of "very disparate" individuals charged with working out controversial elements of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's plan to annex the Coastside.

The group included members of the MROSD board, pushing for annexation, and opponents of the plan, including San Mateo County Farm Bureau representatives and very vocal "property rights" activists, Mr. Gordon said. They met every other week for six months, he said, and at the end, "we were able to hammer out the agreement without opposition from the Farm Bureau."

When he announced his candidacy for the Assembly seat, he said, the first individual who endorsed him was Mary Davey of the MROSD board, and the first organization, the Farm Bureau. "So the folks who sat at the table with me were the first to endorse me," he said.

He also points to endorsements he's received from county supervisors from across the state, most if not all of whom he worked with when he served as president of the California State Association of Counties. Singling out the board of Yolo County, Mr. Gordon said that he received the endorsements of the most liberal member and the most conservative member.

Mr. Gordon highlights his work with the association, and the support of many of its members, because he believes it speaks to his viability as a state legislator. The supervisors were from "disparate groups -- reflective of what you see in the state Legislature," he said. "I worked to bring them to common ground."

Three-way contest

Mr. Gordon is running in the June 8 Democratic primary against fellow Menlo Park resident Josh Becker, an entrepreneur, and former Palo Alto City Council member Yoriko Kishimoto. Although the winner of that race will face a Republican contender on the November ballot, he or she will almost certainly replace the termed-out Ira Ruskin, given the heavily Democratic voting record of the district.

The district includes The Almanac's entire circulation area: Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, and nearby unincorporated areas.

Mr. Becker has had no elective office experience, and Ms. Kishimoto's city council service was eight years in duration. Mr. Gordon contrasts that with his own history. Before his 12-year stint as a supervisor, he served for six years on the San Mateo County Board of Education.

"My background, experience and knowledge are broader and deeper" than that of his opponents, he said. "The key is that I can be judged on my track record. I have demonstrated fiscal responsibility in government (and the) ability to build bridges and coalitions."

As examples of fiscal responsibility, he cites his role about 10 years ago in helping to put an outcome-based budgeting process in place for the county, whereby results and benefits of programs could be measured for their efficiency and effectiveness. Also, he was a strong supporter of "a very good reserve policy" now in place.

If elected, Mr. Gordon said, he would work toward both revenue generation and spending cuts in the state, but stressed that cuts must be "surgical and strategic." For example, lawmakers shouldn't cut programs that help keep people out of prison, because prison is far more expensive than the axed programs would be.

He would support a look at reinstating the vehicle license fee, and reviewing "the long-term fairness of Proposition 13," he said, noting that there are ways of protecting senior citizens to allow them to stay in their homes -- a stated goal of Proposition 13.

Another source of revenue could be an oil extraction tax, he said, noting that California is the only oil-producing state in the country that doesn't charge oil companies a fee for extracting oil. That tax is as high as 25 percent in at least one state -- Alaska.

Mr. Gordon returns often to the need to fix Sacramento. As a legislator, he would "engage the public in a conversation" about the need to eliminate the two-thirds majority vote to pass a budget, a requirement that has caused gridlock in the Capitol for many years running.

But how can one person fix a badly broken system? "Obviously, one person cannot change the system," he said. "One person can be a voice, and one person can join others. ... It only takes a handful to move toward change."

A native of San Mateo County, Mr. Gordon entered the ministry in the United Methodist Church after receiving a degree from the University of Southern California. Before running for public office in 1992, he worked in the nonprofit sector in San Mateo County, first with the YMCA, then with Youth and Family Assistance, where he served as executive director.

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Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

My advice would be find out whichever candidate is endorsed by public sector unions, and then vote against that candidate.

Like this comment
Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm

My thoughts exactly. In my opinion, watching Mr. Gordon in action over the years, (and I truly encourage citizens of this county to GO watch their stuipdvisors in action) he is a typical fat cat two faced politician who will do ANYTHING to further his public career. How about getting a job Mr. Gordon in the private sector instead of being a career politician on your way to the top? He's all about the Photo Op and the "award ceremony" and placating the squeaky wheel in my opinion.

Like this comment
Posted by Malcolm Dudley
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Rich Gordon is one of the most conscientious, knowledgeable and hard working public servants I have worked with during my twenty four years in local government. With his background he will quickly become a very effective member of the State Legislature.

Like this comment
Posted by halle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I will not vote for Gordon.

for very long after my neighbor was killed. Also, His office and him in particular refused to return a phone call about the crosswalk issue that involved perhaps changing its location. did not have police patrol in the area of Menlo Commons

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Will vote for anybody but Gordon. He won't return calls and he doesn't keep his word for long. I've been to a few of his meetings.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm

He is an ambitious person.

I have seen many faces and he is not very popular for his recent services to the County.

A real "ribbon cutter".

Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I'll vote for anyone but him. I have watched him in action - it's all about Rich Gordon.

Like this comment
Posted by Lee Cunningham
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2010 at 8:11 am

If Rich Gordon hadn't been termed out, we would have thrown him out this year. THE WORST elected official. NEVER responsive to constituents unless dollars or self-promotion is involved. Josh Becker looks like a much better bet. I'll vote and, and more important, work the phones for him.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I have to say, that like many others, I have not been impressed by Rich Gordon. I have found his office to be unresponsive, and the minimal exposure I have had to his work leads me to believe it is largely ineffective. Having the endorsement of over 100 elected officials impresses me not in the least. Their endorsement should rate no more value than any other citizen, and possibly less considering the fact that most politicians serve in dysfunctional organizations. He claims to have demonstrated fiscal responsibility, and yet he was a Supervisor during the most irresponsible investment of the County Treasury in SMC's history. It was Buffington's fault, but the complete lack of oversight by the Board of Sups was appalling.

California's state government is broken, and sending someone to Sacramento who is ensconsed in the political machinery already in place isn't going to help.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:01 am

R.GORDON is a registered user.

May I suggest to everyone who questions Richard Gordon's credibility, is just to check online or in Redwood City, some of the work his staff of four or five people who do his investigatory work and look at the abhorrent and, in some cases, ways they attack when making reports.
They are uninformed, non trained, and stop answering calls to people who have grievous complaints. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment. Focus on issues, not personal attacks.]

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

R.GORDON is a registered user.


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