Election 2020: Crowded field in the running for State Senate seat

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Bruce Barton/Town Crier
State Senate District 13 candidates Sally Lieber, from left, Mike Brownrigg, Josh Becker and Shelly Masur listen to Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, right, at the Jan. 12 Peninsula Democratic Coalition forum in Los Altos.

Seven candidates, including a veteran politician from Mountain View and a perennial candidate from Los Altos, are vying to take State Sen. Jerry Hill’s place representing the 13th District. The primary election is March 3.

Hill is termed-out after serving eight years in a district that stretches from San Bruno to Mountain View, Los Altos and Sunnyvale. Five of the seven candidates are Democrats. The 13th District is dominated by Democratic-leaning voters.

The Peninsula Democratic Coalition held a candidates forum Jan. 12 in Los Altos to introduce four of the Democratic candidates – Sally Lieber, Mike Brownrigg, Josh Becker and Shelly Masur – discussing issues ranging from housing to transportation, health care and education. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian served as moderator.

Also in the race is John Webster, a Mountain View software engineer, representing the Libertarian Party, and Alex Glew of Los Altos, an engineer and business owner, representing the Republican Party.

Lieber is a former Mountain View City Councilwoman and State Assemblywoman, Masur is vice mayor of Redwood City, Brownrigg is a member of the Burlingame City Council and Becker is a Menlo Park educator. Another Democratic candidate, Millbrae City Councilwoman Annie Oliva was invited to the forum but canceled due to illness.

Promoting their platforms

Brownrigg, who grew up in Los Altos Hills, portrayed himself as “getting things done” throughout a 30-year career in government, including supporting legislation to reduce carbon emissions and expand child care and affordable housing.

Lieber emphasized familiarity with constituents through her long career in local politics, beginning with election to the Mountain View City Council in 1998.

“I’m known to just about everyone here,” she told a packed forum audience at the Garden House in Shoup Park, touting a career that emphasized social justice and assistance to low-income families.

Masur cited 14 years of elected experience. She noted that her expertise in public health – she holds a master’s degree – makes her uniquely qualified to take on health-care issues.

Becker, a founding trustee at UC Merced, highlighted his activism in environmental and education matters.

Transportation and housing issues dominated much of the discussion. The candidates railed against high-speed rail, even Lieber, who was an early supporter. Masur said she backed the controversial Senate Bill 50, which would place high-density housing near transit locations and override local zoning, Becker, Lieber and Brownrigg were against it.

The candidates were in general agreement over expanding health coverage and decried the current state of public schools.

Brownrigg supported charter schools, celebrating their “innovation,” while the others noted charter schools’ lack of transparency. On the environment, Brownrigg and Masur cited reduction of carbon footprints as the most pressing issue, while Becker named sea level rise. Lieber emphasized the need to “get oil money out of politics.”

Becker listed endorsements from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California League of Conservation Voters. Masur scored endorsements from Assemblyman Marc Berman and her Redwood City Council peers. Brownrigg’s endorsements include Los Altos councilwomen Lynette Lee Eng and Anita Enander. Lieber’s include the Sierra Club and famed consumer activist Erin Brockovich.

For more information on Becker, visit For more on Lieber, visit For more on Masur, visit For more on Brownrigg, visit

Other candidates

Oliva, a realtor, is a housing advocate who believes in incentivizing local communities to build more housing. She also wants to address homelessness and improve environmental sustainability. For more information, visit

Glew has run in several local races over the years, including twice for Los Altos City Council and once for State Assembly. In general, he favors limited government.

He supports property rights, opposes rent control and favors local zoning control and a reduction in health-care costs through competition. He cited a November issue of Climate Online Redwood City that predicted Glew and Masur would be the March 3 primary winners in the race. For more on Glew’s candidacy, visit

Webster, pointing to U.S. government corruption, said California “must threaten to secede from the Federal Union.” For more information, visit

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