San Marino voters on Tuesday once again approved by a healthy margin a public safety tax–dubbed Measure SM by its supporters–that will augment paramedic services, fire protection and prevention and police protection. Measure SM, which was first approved by voters in 1980 and garnered 73.11% of Tuesday’s vote, will provide approximately $3.4 million annually until 2025. The measure needed a 66.67% “yes” vote to pass. While Measure SM faced some organized opposition within the community, nobody filed an argument against the initiative for the official ballot statement.
Mayor Dr. Steven Huang called the measure “necessary for our city.”
“I think the community still values our fire department and our police department —
they’re very important,” Huang told the Tribune. “They value public safety as their number one concern.”
Chief of Police John Incontro shared he was grateful for the community’s support and recognized the work of the Committee of San Marino Residents for Measure SM to support the departments.
“This is the community’s way of showing that the police and fire department are doing their part and are responsible with the tax money and the bond money, and they appreciate the work we’ve done,” said Incontro.
“I certainly appreciate their support and I really appreciate their support when they have questions about what we’re doing to make sure we’re doing things right. That’s important,” Incontro continued. “I embrace the questions, the criticism, the ideas and this is just an example of the community and what they do for us.”
Fire Chief Mario Rueda thanked Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey and Council Member Steve Talt, who served as council liaisons for the committee, and the numerous community members who assisted. He said that the passing of the measure is a sign of affirmation of the work the department does, showing the community’s trust and belief in it.
“When somebody votes to give you that sort of level of trust and vote of confidence, it really is our responsibility to make sure that we are fiscally and operationally proficient,” said Rueda. “We understand that it’s coming out of somebody’s pocket.”
Incumbents Huang and Talt received 1,292 (48.92%) and 1,349 (51.08%) votes, respectively, to retain their seats on the San Marino City Council. As the city realigns with mandates to shift election cycles towards more active dates, their second terms will be for five years.
Huang and Talt filed election papers before the August deadline while one San Marino resident, Andrew Ko, later qualified as a write-in candidate. Huang and Talt were elected to their first terms in 2015. According to the Registrar of Voters, the number of ballots containing a write-in candidate vote is 49, but officials have not yet verified whether they were properly filled out nor they determined the identity of the recipient(s) of the vote(s).
“I appreciate the residents giving me another term,” said Huang, who is San Marino’s current mayor. He also expressed his appreciation at the passage of the safety tax.
“Apparently the community still values public safety,” Huang said. “They know we can do a good job with the money.”
Talt was equally as thankful.
“I am grateful to the residents for the opportunity to continue to serve on our City Council and look forward to the next term,” Talt told The Tribune. “San Marino is such a unique town, and it is truly a privilege and honor to be trusted with the responsibility of helping maintain what makes it so special.”
Only 1,902 ballots were received at the county board of elections from San Marino voters. The city has 8,603 registered voters.