If you would like to sum up San Carlos politics over the last few years with a small phrase, Budget Cuts, would be the most accurate choice. There are many moving parts to a city council election, but this election will come down to how voters felt about the heavy hitting budget cuts that were put into place by the current council. A majority of the current council made the San Carlos budget its top priority. After more than ten years of operating in the red, the council made cuts that would insure that San Carlos could once again safely operate in the black and actually have a reserve. This new, more favorable, financial position of the city was attained at that expense of the Belmont San Carlos Fire Department and the San Carlos Police Department. San Carlos fire protection is now under the umbrella of a regionalized approach with Redwood City and our police services are now undertaken by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department. These two shifts in protection and services were the main players in allowing the city to once again operate in the black.
Division in the Community
The cuts appeared to divide the San Carlos community. Incumbent, Randy Royce, played a leading role in perfecting the substantial budget cuts. Royce faces re-election today. Those that supported the difficult cuts by Royce and other council members will likely turn out to show their support at the voting booth. Conversely, those that did not support those cuts may also show their displeasure at the voting booth. If there is one factor that may be a difference maker for Royce, it is the fact that since the transition of police and fire services was put into place, the community seems to have seen little in the way of a negative impact from the services being switched over. Those that may have been displeased earlier in the year may have softened their stance against Royce upon seeing the results. Royce will also point to the fact that what San Carlos has done with their fire and police services is now being used as a model for other similar sized towns.
The seat left by Omar Ahmad is also up for grabs. Ron Collins and Mark Olbert are the other two candidates challenging for the open seats. Ahmad appeared to vote in line with Royce and touted the same rhetoric of Royce when it came making substantial cuts to San Carlos police and fire services. Mayor Andy Klein appeared to side with Royce and Ahmad a majority of the time as well when it came to budget decisions. How voters feel about the moves made by Royce will likely help dictate the fate of Collins and Olbert.