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The Democratic Party has a strong showing in the region, as reflected by voter registration reports for 2009. Records show 48,762 registered voters in San Mateo with 51 percent Democrat and 22 percent Republican with the remaining percentages listed as Green Party, Libertarians and those that declined to state. The Democratic influence is also reflected in the state of California, with the Senate (15 Republicans, 25 Democrats), and the Assembly (1 vacancy, 1 independent, 29 Republicans, 49 Democrats). For the most part, Democrats have had the majority in these two houses for the past 39 years. In the 2008 presidential election, California totaled 55 electoral votes to the Obama/Biden candidacy.

On the state level, two Democrats represent the city of San Mateo: Leland Yee of the 8th Senate District, and Jerry Hill, of the 19th Assembly District. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Jackie Speier represents California’s 12th congressional district, which includes San Mateo.

A city charter governs San Mateo. Residents voted on November 3, 1970 to adopt the charter and it was ratified by legislature in 1971. A city charter is permitted under the California Constitution, as long as residents vote in favor of the charter by majority rule. With a charter in place, San Mateo has more control over local or municipal decisions, as opposed to general law cities, which come under state law for municipal governance. A charter allows the residents to have more control over municipal matters that directly affect the operations of the city. As defined by the California Constitution, municipal affairs include the following: legal authority of the city’s police force, city-level government, city election oversight, and the election process for municipal officers.

San Mateo’s legislative body consists of a mayor, deputy mayor and three council members. Council members choose the mayor, who remains in office for one year. Council members serve a four-year term. The city council appoints a city manager that oversees the daily operations of services to residents, and a city attorney who will offer legal advisement on all issues related to San Mateo. Also appointed by the council are the nine boards and commissions who receive feedback from citizens on important issues. The commissions were formed to address the concerns and needs of residents, such as senior citizens and youth. Other commissions focus on opportunities for community improvement and fostering positive community relations.

Copyright Ian Durr 2009 All Rights Reserved