Three Democrats face off for for shot at Jim Tucker

19th Assembly foes offer views on Devil's Slide

Half Moon Bay Review, March 13, 1995

By Robin Jones

Three Democrats are vying for the chance to face Republican Jim Tucker in the November race for the state's 19th Assembly District seat. The Democratic Party candidate will be decided March 26 when Democrats Madolyn Agrimonti, Dave Mandelkern, and Lou Papan face off in the primary election. On the Coastside, the 19th Assembly District encompasses Montara and Moss Beach.

* Madolyn Agrimonti is the mayor of Daly City. She was elected to the city council (beating Tucker) in 1990. She was first elected mayor in 1993, then re-elected in 1994, becoming the first Daly City council member in 20 years to serve two consecutive mayoral terms.

Agrimonti lists increased police and fire protection, improved library services, and the introduction of new youth programs as her accomplishments as mayor. She is the city's representative on the San Mateo County Cities, County Association of Governments (CCAG), which she chairs.

Her goals, she said, is to "be honest, work hard, remember that you work for the taxpayers and that every dollar government spends comes directly from people who work hard for a living each and every day.

"I believe I really know the county well, and I have results from the things I have done in my own city," said Agrimonti, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in Daly City. "I think the best thing to do in solving a problem is to go into the area that is affected and let them come up with a solution, instead of solving the problem from Sacramento."

Agrimonti says she would apply such a philosophy to the Devil's Slide problem. "Obviously there's another issue underlying (the Devil's Slide debate), and that's development south of Devil's Slide. I'm open to hearing (Coastsiders') side of the issue, so that I can be more sensitive to their position."

* A newcomer to politics, Dave Mandelkern brings to his campaign 15 years of business experience in the high-tech industry. He co-founded three software companies, and is currently president of his own company, AlmondSeed Software, Inc.

Mandelkern is a member of the national board of directors for the American Electronics Association, a member of the San Mateo County Office of Education task force on telecommunications and technology. He volunteered on President Clinton's and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's recent campaigns.

He decided to run for office himself because he "got fed up reading about the debates over issues I thought were important.

"It's frustrating, because people talk so much but they never come up with solutions," Mandelkern said. "I have an entrepreneurial background, and I can dive in and solve problems. I have an understanding of the issues plus what the solutions are."

Mandelkern asserts that the "number one issue facing the Coastside is undoubtedly Devil's Slide."

The Hillsborough resident says he will not make a decision about alternatives - tunnel or bypass _ until he sees the independent tunnel study, as mandated by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Instead, Mandelkern pledges to make certain CalTrans is accountable to Coastside residents in its exploration of alternatives to Devil's Slide if elected.

"I want to make sure that CalTrans gives the tunnel study a fair shake," Mandelkern said. "On the bottom line, I want to see that CalTrans does its job right. The level of respect they give to the Coastsiders is sadly lacking."

At the state level, Mandelkern said his main concern is California's public education system. He hopes to integrate cutting-edge technology and computers into the state curriculum.

"California used to be the envy of the country with its public education being the best in the United States," Mandelkern said. "And look how far we've fallen. Government should provide a good public education, since the kids in school are the people who will grow up and pay taxes. But they're being ignored."

* With his campaign for the Assembly, Lou Papan is returning to politics after a 10-year hiatus. Papan held the 19th District Assembly seat from 1972 to 1986, during which time he served 10 years as chair of the Assembly Rules Committee and two years as the Speaker Pro Tempore.

From 1986 to 1994, Papan served as a commissioner on the California Medical Assistance Commission. He decided to jump-start his political career because he saw a "downhill trend" in the Legislature over the past decade.

"There's a lot of partisanship and it's not doing the state any good," Papan said. "I feel I should go back to Sacramento and use my experience to get things turned around again."

Like Mandelkern, Papan is interested in improving education in the state. During his tenure in the Assembly, Papan wrote laws establishing funding for special education, and has gained the endorsement of the California Teachers' Association.

"California is 42nd in spending per pupil and 50th in having computers in classrooms," Papan said. "Those aren't the kind of statistics that make me happy. There's surplus money in the budget, and I would push hard to have that money released to education. We have to reverse the problems."

Papan sees three major issues on the Coastside: offshore drilling, debate over the sewer plant expansion and Devil's Slide.

"I was instrumental in raising money for Devil's Slide 20 years ago, and I support (the Board of Supervisors') independent tunnel study," Papan said. "I think we really need a solution to this problem. It's been going on too long, and I'd like to resolve it as soon as possible."

Half Moon Bay Review