In an unusual but legal move, Jack Hickey is running this fall for a seat on the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, even though he already sits on the board, halfway through his third term.
Hickey, who first sought a seat on the board in 2002 with a mission to dismantle it, said a win on Nov. 6 would show that voters agree the district should cease to exist and the tax dollars it collects should be distributed to other agencies.
"That's why I'm running this time," Hickey said Wednesday. "Voters, if they get the message, they'll only vote for one candidate and that will be me if they want dissolution."
Hickey jumped into the contest at 4:10 p.m. on Aug. 10, 50 minutes before the deadline. He is running against two of his board colleagues, Kim Griffin and Kathleen Kane.
If only Griffin and Kane had filed to run, the board could have voted to call off the election and saved about $160,000, Hickey acknowledged. But the cost of an election is minimal compared to the millions of dollars that would be reallocated to the county, cities and local school districts if the district went away, he noted.
Griffin called Hickey's election move "ridiculous."
"If you look at the things we're doing and what we could spend $160,000 on, it's a shame," she said Wednesday. "It's a waste of tax money."
If Hickey beats out one of his two colleagues, he said he would take that person's seat and vacate his. That would put him in
Even if Hickey won, Griffin said he couldn't claim a mandate.
"There are four board members who remain very committed to the mission of the district," Griffin said.
Hickey made a similar, but unsuccessful, attempt to unseat Griffin and Kane in 2008.
San Mateo County Deputy County Counsel Glenn Levy said while there's legal ground to prevent Hickey from holding two seats simultaneously, there's no law prohibiting him from running for a second seat.
"We have not found any legislation that says you cannot do that," Levy said. "It's a very unusual circumstance, but the law doesn't prohibit it."
The Sequoia Healthcare District was established in 1947 to build and operate Sequoia Hospital. The hospital is now run by Catholic HealthCare West, which took over in 1996. As a result, the millions of tax dollars collected by the district are now distributed to health programs -- including those in schools and for low-income residents -- that serve Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos, Menlo Park, Woodside, Atherton, Portola Valley and parts of southern Foster City and San Mateo.
Though Hickey used to say his goal was to return the nearly $9 million in annual property taxes to residents, he conceded a point made in a 2008 memo from district general counsel Mark Hudak that even if the district is dissolved, its share of property taxes would likely be redistributed among other agencies within its boundary.