With an all-too-rare open seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, residents of District 3, which ranges from the western half of south county cities to rural coastside communities and large swaths of open space lands, and includes Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside and west Menlo Park, have two strong candidates to choose from when voting for their next representative.
Both are popular elected officials in their communities. Small business owner Laura Parmer-Lohan has served one, four-year term on the San Carlos City Council and attorney Ray Mueller has served on the Menlo Park City Council for 10 years. Each enjoys support from diverse local elected officials and community leaders. Mueller's previous experience as chief of staff for Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian helped him secure support from regional and state officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom.
As far as their positions on the top issues go, the two have a great deal in common, from a commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change to protecting reproductive rights and supporting the county's agricultural economy that's been badly hurt by drought and housing shortages. Both oppose Menlo Park's Measure V, and both speak knowledgeably about wildfire risks, the county's lack of affordable child care and strategies for managing the ongoing risks of COVID-19.
One of the key differences in the two is in their lived experiences. The board of supervisors has been the exclusive province of White men for much of its history, and the addition of Parmer-Lohan, a member of the LGBTQ community, would add welcomed diversity.
However, we were impressed with Mueller's specificity in outlining ideas for tackling problems, such as increasing equity in local education funding by creating a joint powers agreement benefitting the neediest school districts, expanding the county's medical and other services on the coast and cleaning up processes in the county planning department to make outcomes fairer and more predictable.
He's intimately familiar with the needs of Menlo Park and surrounding south county towns, but he's also demonstrated an impressive grasp of Coastside issues, which are mostly the purview of county government, and we applaud his commitment to opening an office there to provide the kind of in-person attention those unincorporated areas deserve.
Both candidates have what it takes to serve on the Board of Supervisors, but we find Mueller, with his depth of experience and large network of elected officials, has the edge over Parmer-Lohan and is the best equipped to take on the challenges of this large and diverse part of San Mateo County.