« Late Summer Musings on Politics | Main | B'game better than "Climate best by government test" »

August 14, 2022



Name a name to “write in.”
Someone who won’t live by buzzwords.

BHS Parents-Also Suppressed- Mr. Shenkman's Neighborhood-

The by-district elections in the SMUHSD block Burlingame residents from casting a vote and will deliver two new Board members in San Bruno and San Mateo-Hillsborough for just showing up!

Out of touch incumbents will now need to be removed by their own districts without the input of the entire tax-payer base.

The single candidates who will take these seats may break the stronghold of support of what remains of the ongoing administrative corruption.

Moving forward, a single member district for the SMUHSD in Burlingame means that a more “Burlingame” aligned candidate with specific academic standards and no toleration for ignorance or negligence will not get “over-voted” by a spill-over from San Mateo and the surrounding areas.

This also means that the Burlingame-Millbrae Trustee will have to support the constituents and high schools of Burlingame and Millbrae to win or get re-elected.

BHS turns 100 this year, but who remains to know the campus, the community, and the history of the school?

To the teacher who continues to issue threats using teenage students as a “human shield,” your identity, fingerprints (state and federal database from your credential) and work is well known as the investigation quietly and diligently builds evidence.

Ed: for some reason this comment was doubled up (same content twice) and has now been cut to a single instance--same words.


Some facts and better context:

1. The CA legislature is responsible for the voters choice act not a lawyer in Malibu.

2. The city had every opportunity to come into compliance but waited until it was forced by the lawyer. He made somewhere in the neighborhood of 40k for sending the letter. Money paid by your taxes because the council waited it out.

3. The council decided how to split the districts regardless of what the clerk and staff tell you. It was a poor effort and a disservice to the community. People didn’t even understand what this process was and thought their kids were going to another school as a result of redistricting…again poor execution by the clerk and city staff.

4. Despite all of this, district elections is not a form of voter suppression it actually helps mitigate that very problem (plenty of data demonstrates this).

5. Something that can be done to mitigate any perceived fractured voting (which defeats the purpose of district elections) is to have an at large mayor seat. The council rejected that notion out of laziness because they had already paid the contractor and the collateral said 5 districts leaving no room to think about how to approach the process (redistricting partners has made a niche turnkey business piggybacking on these letters…again poor execution by staff and poor leadership by the council and city manager)

I hope this clarifies the misinformation in the thread while adding some critique.


I think you are missing the forest for the trees Jerrym. I had 5 votes. Now I have 1. Not sure what your plenty of data is but by my math my choices have been suppressed big time. Joe seemed to spread the blame around pretty well.


Jerrym, thanks for buttressing my original take--I had not heard of the $40K payout, but it just adds to my characterization. The earlier original posts clearly noted that this was state law, but I should have repeated that here.

If you read back, I also suggested some at-large seats months ago. Not sure about that being the case for the mayor, but three larger districts and two-at large (or grow the council by two more seats at large) would have preserved a bit of our voting power.

You left off one key council criticism. Where were the public requests to our reps in Sacramento to change the law? Were Mullin and Becker too busy worrying about other things? (Answer: yes) Where was the effort to gather like-minded city councils to ask for this change? Or at least some minimum population trigger?

This change stinks and one can only hope it gets fixed in Sac at some point. I mean really--6,000 person districts?

Paloma Ave

Sacramento is a MAJOR problem. They are the enemy.

Mullin and Becker do not represent us or common sense, they represent their own political futures, as does 3/5ths of our own city council.

The City of Burlingame should secede from the State of California. Imagine how much better things would be if we kept our property taxes local.

Handle Bard

On the bright side there will be much less yard sign pollution this year.


Resident you are being obtuse. It’s not a 1st grade math problem involving apples. Plenty of academic sources exist with tangible data from cities across the country that have been using district elections as a way to level the playing field for a few decades now—Do some research. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but the data proves it has overall positive effects.

What I like about it personally is that you have 1 candidate focused on you and your neighborhood which in turn makes them more accountable to your needs. Who are they going to blame?

But that isn’t even the best part…Running as a candidate in a district election is more accessible to folks of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Otherwise, with time and for (presumably) innocuous reasons, mostly the wealthy would ever run for office. And if mostly white wealthy people run and win local offices they tend to become disconnected from the diverse needs of the community. Prime example is Donna Colson trying to up the maximum donation for campaigns last year allowing two members of household to dump 20k on a single candidate (note: you can run city wide with that money). Wealth begets wealth and district elections bring an end to that (on principle, the wealthy still have the advantage). For example, you can get off from your job at Molly Stones bakery and effectively knock on every door in the district with a few neighbors and a little bit of time. A feat impossible for middle and lower income earners in a city wide election unless they raise lots of money and get large groups of volunteers.

Again nothing is perfect but it is better in the long run.


Joe, thanks for the clarification.

My issue is that if you look at the maps and where the council members live. They effectively engaged in gerrymandering but had the clerk’s poor outreach and the districting contractor’s work as cover. No resident map was selected as a basis for the options that were ultimately on the table and it was well understood that Kieghran would not run again.

That said the voters choice act was before Becker’s time and a good bill I wholeheartedly agree with. It has been each city’s prerogative to sit on their hands when it comes to complying with the law because they can turn around and blame Sacramento while lawyers and niche districting contractors make money.

Again the council did a huge disservice along with the city manager and the clerk. But despite all of this, today Bgamers are better off with district elections and we will see better diversity and more balance on the council in the future.


"Who are they going to blame?" - the other three or four council members who didn't vote with them, of course.

You appear to be quite the altruistic dreamer. Good for you.


There is always something to blame but the blame becomes centered on the person leading the district. Try it with your district’s newly elected official.

It takes 3 votes to fire city staff. City staff will make sure to deliver each district’s request. This creates competition for resources and that is better than the current system where they just simply point at Sacramento and raise their shoulders and hands in the air.

Everything's Jake

Jerrym, you lost me with "if mostly white wealthy people run..."
I respect your POV but I'm weary of the progressive tactic.

Cathy Baylock

Jerrym, I think the council did a good job by dividing the city roughly along the lines of the elementary school divisions as this is, generally, a community within a community.

As to "firing city staff with three votes", the city council only hires the City Manager and City Attorney. Under state law, only the City Manager can fire staff.

Though I thought this was a silly exercise to divide a town of 30,000 people into five "boroughs", I think the real winners will be those of us who live in the south end of town. And that is the silver lining in this all...

Howard C

ooof, down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier


Cathy, that is true, the council can only fire the person that can fire everyone else (meaning they can fire anyone by proxy…)

That said, you are naive if you think elementary schools were the defining criteria on how the map was drawn up (it’s actually more of a coincidence…trust me I am a data scientist with a doctorate under my belt). It had more to do with demographics and the geographical location of these within the city limits (compactness, continuous lines, etc.). It so happens that current council members all live close to each other and effectively drew their own districts because it is easy to make small shifts in the lines at that level of proximity and not affect the legal criteria for the districting process.

As for winners and losers, I think Ortiz’s district was the real winner as it is now a predominantly Asian district and we may see a person of Asian heritage (a few years from now) representing what is the second largest segment of our population. A second place winner is indeed the southern part of the city and in reality everyone east of El Camino Real.

Palm Dr

You think crime is out of control in Burlingame now. Just wait..



@Palm Dr. You are off-topic, but you can go here for last year's data and add your thoughts: https://www.burlingamevoice.com/2022/01/the-year-in-crime-2021.html#comments

Today's Chronicle piece on school boards just revealed the problem with tiny districts. Here it is:

In many California and Bay Area cities, elections for school board seats used to be citywide, with the top vote-getting candidates elected to the seats available. But after legal challenges related to a lack of diversity, many cities broke school boards up into seats for geographic areas.

In Morgan Hill, each of the seven school board members represents an area with just over 6,000 of the city’s 45,000 residents. (Ed: Gee, that's pretty much the size of Burlingame's little districts) The number of residents in each zone eligible to run for office is an even smaller number — at best a few thousand people.

It has increased the number of unopposed candidates, Rossi said, an “unintended consequence” of trying to diversify school boards.
It may be "unintended" but it is completely to-be-expected. The whole idea is stupid and should be reversed by the Assembly and Senate.


This is an example of why business leaders and strategists keep the data scientists in the backroom next to the server. The model is data> information> knowledge> wisdom. Or in this case replace wisdom with policy. BTW, wokeism is no where in the equation.


I’m glad there’s district elections. We’ve had absolutely no representation on the east side for a long time. I am in district 5 and we have very unique situations that do not affect the areas where most of the other city council members live. As much as people bring our issues to their attention, the council members are absolutely not affected and cannot relate to what is going on on the other side of the tracks no matter how much they profess they do.
Among the issues are: Caltrain electrification project, large apartment building and condos going up on Rollins/California/Bayswater, Facebook projects, Peninsula overpass project, there are so many multiple high density projects on the drawing board that are soon to come such as top golf, 2 new biotech campuses being built. And where there’s density, there are unintended consequences.
So, all the best to the 2 people who are running in our district. I sincerely hope that they will hold debates where we can ask them questions about all of these important issues. Perhaps on this forum but more importantly in person.


I wish it was just that easy. Elect someone from the neighborhood and the other four people will just get in line and do the right thing. Alas. The two people who have been in office forever and created the problem just get reelected with no competition. Nothing is going to change and the east side is screwed.


JP you may be right. Personally, I believe most of our city council is a little too cozy approving all of these ginormous buildings that have gone up in recent years..
Take a look around at all of the enormous cranes dotting the sky. For example, the post office building has been touted as the new town square. In reality it is a multi story building that will overshadow the entire downtown. The size and scope are completely out of place. in the future, people will walk by and ask “who approved this building.” What a legacy.

In reference to the two city council members who will be walking into their seats without some opposition. How sad. However, I completely understand that it takes a lot of time and $$ to run a good campaign and these two have been in office for quite some time and it would be a formidable task to go up against them.

Cathy Baylock (former mayor/city council) ran some great campaigns and one of her slogans was “Burlingame- you’ll miss it when it’s gone.” People, it’s going away very quickly.

Just Visiting

Rachel Cyr has withdrawn, leaving Stevenson unopposed in District 5. While he's probably a good guy, this isn't a good sign for the direction of local elections.



I guess I should update the title of the original post to read "100% voter suppression in Burlingame".

Jennifer Pfaff

Well, gee, I wonder what would happen if nobody wanted to run in a given district? What does the fine print say on that one?
I'd be interested to know how many other towns and small cities have the same outcome (ie. one unopposed candidate or perhaps none?).

Just Visiting

Jennifer, there's an answer to that already. It's opinion, but generally pretty well informed. And the answer is: a lot more than there should be.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to [email protected] with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.