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Public Policy Newsletter Article

City and County Election Results are Finalized Throughout California

  • 2020-12-03T16:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Melanie Cohn

In this article we will do our best to summarize local election results throughout California.

In San Diego, there was a shift to the left on both the County Board of Supervisors and City Council. At the council level, the odd numbered districts were up for election, and victorious candidates include Joe LaCava (District 1), Stephen Whitburn (District 3), Marni von Wilpert (District 5), Raul Campillo (District 7), and Sean Elo-Rivera (District 9). LaCava will represent the area that includes San Diego’s life science hub. Councilmember Chris Cate, who was not up for reelection, now becomes the lone Republican on the Council.

New Councilmembers will be sworn in on December 10th and will then choose between Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe and Councilmember Jen Campbell to be their Council President, who oversees setting the Council’s docket and making committee appointments. While this process normally takes place behind the scenes, Councilmembers Montgomery Steppe and Campbell have decided to vie for the position publicly. Councilmember Campbell is seen as the moderate option, while Montgomery Steppe is more progressive.

Assemblymember Todd Gloria was elected as San Diego’s first mayor of color, first mayor who has come out as gay, and first Democrat mayor since San Diego switched to the “strong mayor” form of government in 2005. Gloria served on the San Diego City Council from 2008 until he was elected to the Assembly in 2016, acting as interim Mayor for eight months between Bob Filner’s resignation and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s swearing-in in March 2014. Biocom’s staff has been working with Mayor-Elect Gloria since he was a staffer for Congresswoman Susan Davis; we anticipate his adept leadership as the city navigates COVID-19 related budget issues, moving the Climate Action Plan forward, and tackling the middle-income housing shortage.

The County Board of Supervisors will welcome Democrats Nora Vargas in District 1 and Terra Lawson-Remer, who defeated incumbent Kristin Gaspar, in District 3. Lawson-Remer’s district will include the majority of Biocom members located in San Diego County, encompassing much of northern San Diego, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Escondido, and Encinitas. The extremely close race in District 2 has not yet been called, with former State Senator Joel Anderson leading Poway Mayor Steve Vaus by 282 votes as of this writing. These election outcomes will shift the balance of the Board to 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans. As the Board of Supervisors becomes increasingly progressive after term limits were removed in 2010, there could be implications for local regulatory agencies that permit life science facilities such as the Air Pollution Control District and Department of Environmental Health.

Moving north to Los Angeles County, State Senator Holly Mitchell will succeed Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Board of Supervisors, where she defeated Los Angeles City Councilmember Herb Wesson. LA has long been a place where elected officials trade one seat for another; Ridley-Thomas will move to the LA City Council, where he was victorious in the 10th district and will replace Wesson. Ridley-Thomas has been a true champion of the life science industry during his time on the Board of Supervisors, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role at the city.

Kevin de León, a former State Senator, was sworn in on October 15th as the Los Angeles Councilmember representing the 14th District, which covers Boyle Heights, DTLA, El Sereno, and Northeast LA. De León was elected in March to replace Jose Huizar, who is facing racketeering, bribery, and other charges. Also joining the City Council is urban planner Nithya Raman, who defeated incumbent Councilmember David Ryu in District 4. Raman will join the council as it confronts a massive budget shortfall, a growing homelessness crisis, and of course the ongoing pandemic, representing a district that takes in Sherman Oaks, Hancock Park, Los Feliz, the Miracle Mile, and much of the Hollywood Hills.

Another thing we will be watching for in the LA region is whether President-Elect Biden will call on any local elected officials to serve at the federal level; Supervisor Hilda Solis and Mayor Eric Garcetti are among those who have been discussed to take such roles.

The Bay Area is vast and varied, so we encourage readers to go here for a full list of election results. We will cover some races of interest here by county, starting with Alameda. Jesse Arreguín was victorious in the race for Mayor of Berkeley, garnering 63.9% of the votes. Biocom and our members met with Arreguín in 2019 and we work closely with the city’s economic development department. Lily Mei was reelected Mayor of Fremont; we convened our members for a sharing session with Mei and mayors of the surrounding cities in October 2019. Mayor Alan Nagy of Newark, who also attended in October 2019, won reelection with 77.8% of the vote.

In South San Francisco, Mark Nagales ran unopposed in Council District 2, and James Coleman looks to have narrowly defeated incumbent Rich Garbarino in District 4. Moving to Santa Clara County, the leading four candidates for Palo Alto City Council are Patrick Burt, Lydia Kou, Greg Lin Tanaka, and Greer Stone – so they will assume council seats. In San Jose, David Cohen defeated incumbent Lan Diep in Council District 4 and incumbent Dev Davis was the winner in District 6.

The City and County of San Francisco had several ballot measures to consider that will have impacts on our member companies operating there. Every proposed ballot measure in the city passed, except for Measure G, which would have allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. Proposition F, the business tax overhaul, will finish the planned phase out of the payroll tax resulting in only a gross receipts tax on businesses, and will gradually increase the tax beginning in 2022. Proposition H will make it easier to open a small business in the city, while Proposition I increases the real estate transfer tax on properties worth $10 million or more. Finally, Proposition L will make San Francisco the first city in the nation to levy an “overpaid executive tax.” It will impose an extra 0.1% to 0.6% on gross receipts made in San Francisco for companies whose highest paid executive makes 100 times or more its median worker’s salary. The amount levied will increase in 0.1% brackets proportionally to the pay ratio.

At the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Connie Chan won her close District 1 race against former Mayor Breed aid Marjan Philhour. The other new Supervisor will be former Planning Commission President Myrna Melgar in District 7; incumbent Supervisors Peskin, Preston, Ronen, and Safaí won reelection. This means the balance of power between progressive and moderate factions at City Hall will remain the same, with progressives enjoying a veto-proof supermajority.

Voters in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties approved regional Measure RR to fund Caltrain with 70% voting for and 30% against. The measure required approval from two-thirds of voters. It will allow a 1/8-cent sales tax increase in those counties and raise an estimated $108 million annually for 30 years to boost the transportation network during a time of low ridership because of COVID-19.