Online Candidate Forum for Peninsula Planners

by on March 8, 2021 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

David Dick, chair of Peninsula Community Planning Board – screen shot from video

By Geoff Page

Unfortunately, even the ease of attending community meetings on-line these days is not enough to get folks out for some things.  This was evidenced by public attendance at the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s annual Candidate Forum held Thursday, March 4, from 6:00 to 7:30.  Of the attending crowd of 25 plus, only three were members of the public.

Historically, it has been this way with Candidate Forums for the PCPB – the public never shows up in any numbers. This is not for lack of trying as the PCPB advertises the event in social media and on its website.  Considering how much easier it is to attend, now that the forum is on-line, the lack of interest is glaring.

But, there could be another reason.  These candidate forums are not the most fascinating events to attend, to put it politely.  Candidates talk about how they want to do good things for the community, which they all do, and there is no really interesting question and answer experience.

Each candidate was given three minutes to say something about themselves and why they wanted to serve on the board.  What they said about themselves was on the candidate applications posted on the PCPB website for anyone to read.  The PCPB has 16 candidates, so this took until the 40-minute mark of the meeting.

Because the PCPB was unable to have an election last year, they have 10 seats up for election.  Each year, five seats are open for election.  There is one more open seat because a board member resigned without finishing their term. This is why there is such a large field of candidates.

Once the candidates were through with their introductory remarks, it was time for questions and answers.  This is where the forum has always had a problem.  When a general question is asked, not a question to a specific candidate, everyone is given the opportunity to answer it.  Usually, everyone takes advantage of that opportunity.  This consumes a great deal of time and usually results in very few questions, three or four, ever being asked during the forum.

The first question asked was a perfect example.

A board member asked the candidates what board subcommittee they could see themselves on and why.  The answers to this deep question took another 27 minutes of the forum.  The remaining time for questions was 24 minutes during which three questions were asked.

One questioner asked what commitment the candidates would have to actually attend subcommittees they signed up for.  Another asked about cooperation with SANDAG and asked if SANDAG wanted to put a trolley through the peninsula, how would they feel about it.  The third question asked if the candidates saw themselves as an advocate, and ambassador, or an “asker.”

Unfortunately, the forum is just not very spell-binding.  The only thing it really does is put candidate faces to names. It provides an opportunity for people who like to judge candidates based on physical observations such as body language.

Here are the people running for the seats with a brief description.  The full candidate applications can be seen at

  • Jesse Benson – Amazon Delivery driver, advocate for keeping Famosa Canyon open space
  • Margaret Cook – Homeowner
  • Fred Kosmo – Attorney, incumbent, current board chair
  • Leah Schaperow – Artist, owner of art studio in Liberty Station
  • David Bock – Corporate attorney
  • Mandy Havlik – homemaker, incumbent, current board secretary
  • Sam Laub – Retired attorney
  • Don Sevrens – Retired journalist, incumbent board member
  • Nicole Burgess – cycling advocate, former board member
  • Joe Holasek – architect, former board member
  • Lucky Morrison – retired military nurse, incumbent
  • Angela Vedder – Real estate, advocate for keeping Famosa Canyon open space
  • Tina Marie – Property/business management, advocate for keeping Famosa Canyon open space
  • Robert Tripp Jackson – Real estate, incumbent
  • Matt Schalles – Neuroscientist and acoustician
  • Paul Webb – Retired city planner, long time former board member

A recording of the forum can be seen here   at

The election will be held Thursday, March 18.  Go to the PCPB website or read the details in the previous OB Rag story, posted Feb. 23.

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