Buetens, Barrales square off for supervisors seat

Half Moon Bay Review, March 20, 1995

By Stett Holbrook

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors hopeful Stan Buetens insists he is no one-issue candidate.

Although he admits it was traffic problems in his North Fair Oaks neighborhood that motivated his entrance into politics, Buetens, who is seeking Ruben Barrales' seat on the board, rejects as unfair and "totally erroneous" published reports that have cast him as one-dimensional.

"I got into this whole race as a result of what I consider terrible, shameless, poor action on the part of the Board of Supervisors in my neighborhood."

Since then, he says, his opposition to the board has grown. "I realized that they are the most inept governmental body in California, if not the country . . . I don't see the board doing anything good. I'm really running against the board rather than Ruben directly."

Buetens and Barrales are competing for the Fourth District supervisorial seat. The district includes Redwood City, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and several unincorporated areas.

Buetens, 63, cites a laundry list of inaction and inadequacy on the part of the board, including the construction of the county's new parking garage in Redwood City, which he feels was a waste of money, foot-dragging on the issue of Devil's Slide, and over-spending.

While county residents grapple over whether to pursue a tunnel or bypass as the solution to Highway 1 at Devil's Slide, Buetens claims to have a cheaper and more effective solution for the slide-prone stretch of Highway 1: a short land bridge, similar to the Edward Doran Bridge, a span of the 280 freeway that passes near Crystal Springs Reservoir.

"I was in the Army (in Korea) and we built bridges. We would build a bridge over an area like (Devil's Slide) in a day. Two days to make it look good."

Whether a tunnel or a bypass is built, Buetens says he does not want to see Devil's Slide abandoned. A giant retaining wall can save the road from slipping again, he said.

"If the Dutch can build a dike two miles long to hold the Atlantic Ocean back, we can build a retaining wall from the beach floor all the way up, holding the earth in place."

Buetens concedes his proposals have come late in the game, but he insists they are doable.

A former music teacher at Stanford University and San Jose State University, Buetens hopes to boost funding for county schools, possibly tapping local businesses for support. But when it comes to bilingual education in public schools, he wants to pull the plug.

"What better thing can you do for a person than to teach him the language of the country that he is living in?" By not immersing new immigrants in English, Buetens believes Latino students are the butt of a "cruel joke" that leaves them ill-prepared for life in the United States.

Other issues on Buetens' agenda include bringing the 49ers to San Mateo County, instituting a garbage recycling program, and curbing illegal immigration into the county.

Barrales, 33, president of the Board of Supervisors, points to his record as a champion of business interests and as an advocate of environmental protection and public safety.

"I listen and work for the residents of San Mateo County," he said. As a former resident of North Fair Oaks, which is unincorporated, Barrales said he understands the "disenfranchisement" felt by residents of the unincorporated Coastside. "I come from a similar situation."

On development issues, Barrales said the best way to settle the slow-growth/pro-growth debate is to have an unambiguous set of regulations. He said he is hoping the board's review of a set of amendments to the county's Local Coastal Program next month will clarify county regulations.

"I don't buy the argument that we shouldn't examine (the LCP), that it's a Pandora's box." Although he did not want to offer any specifics before hearings on the amendments began, Barrales said he is eager to fine tune and refine the LCP. The results, he said, may not be what people like, but at least they will be known by all.

"A property owner . . . should be able to develop within those parameters," he said.

On another issue, Barrales said his role in shoring up the previously troubled Garfield School in Redwood City can serve as a model for other resource-poor schools in the county.

Through county and private sector matching funds, class size was reduced, a parent volunteer program was instituted, and the school year was lengthened.

"I think I've done a good job (as a supervisor) . . .I think one of my strengths is working with local communities."

At a candidate's forum last Wednesday in El Granada, Barrales said he would attend meetings on the coast "as often as I am invited."

The election is March 26.

Half Moon Bay Review