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Election over, but campaign wounds linger

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
November 22, 2005

Wounds inflicted during this month’s Redwood City Council election may take some time to heal.

Fellow Planning Commission members Richard Claire and Hilary Paulson found themselves on opposite sides of the fence after Claire headed a political-action committee that launched hit pieces opposing Paulson in the days before the November election.

Incumbent Diane Howard, a longtime supporter of Paulson’s, is listed as the controlling candidate for the group, known as the Redwood City Citizens for Effective Government.
Paulson and Claire have not spoken since the election.

“I don’t know what I’ll say to him,” Paulson said. “He’s somebody I thought was a friend.”

“Hilary was a friend of mine,” Claire said. “She was. Probably not anymore.”

Howard has apologized privately for the negative campaign, according to Paulson. The council member, who encouraged Paulson to seek a seat on the Planning Commission five years ago, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Both Paulson and newcomer Adrian Brandt lost in the election against incumbents Howard, Jeff Ira, Jim Hartnett and Alicia Aguirre on a platform that included criticism of the City Council’s support for the controversial Marina Shores project.

So far, no one has claimed authorship of the two hit pieces against Paulson and Brandt, which arrived, unsigned, in local mailboxes in early November.

“I had no part of it. But I am the treasurer, so I have to take full responsibility,” Claire said.

They were sent in response to pieces supporting Paulson and Brandt written by the Friends of Redwood City, a political group born of residents” opposition to the Marina Shores project, according to Claire.

The Friends of Redwood City mailer “had a lot of things in it I was really upset about,”
Claire said.

Paulson and others were disturbed by the tone and near-anonymity of the Citizens mailers, which bore only the name of the group.

“Ours were positive, in the sense they didn’t particularly attack anybody and were signed by the people who sent them,” said Friends of Redwood City member Ralph Nobles. “The others were just negative.”

On Nov. 1, the Citizens group received a $5,000 donation from PG&E — the electric company’s only contribution to an active political campaign in San Mateo County. The San Mateo Building Trades Council, Pellarin Enterprises, developer Max Keech and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also chipped in $500 apiece.

The mailers opposing Paulson and Brandt were mailed days after the donations were made. One flier accused the candidates of ignoring or “bulldozing” those who disagreed with them, while the other claimed Paulson opposed the development of Redwood Shores, and accused her of having no respect for that community.

Paulson agreed that during a Sept. 29 candidates forum she made critical statements about the design for Redwood Shores that were used in the mailer, but said they were taken out of context.

Claire said he was out of town when the Citizens mailers were sent and doesn’t know who created them. Both Ira and Nobles said they did not know who was responsible, and Hartnett and Aguirre could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Locals also took note of PG&E’s donation. Spokesman Paul Moreno said that PG&E regularly contributes to political campaigns, but could not explain why the company was interested in supporting the political-action committee.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

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Written by Beth Winegarner

November 22, 2005 at 9:10 PM

Posted in Politics, Redwood City

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