When her third term as county supervisor ends in 2020, County Supervisor Jane Parker plans to retire from public life.
"I and my team have really been able to make a difference in how Monterey County does business," Parker says. "I think it's a good time to step away and let the next generation bring their perspective and energy to the job.
"My tagline in the last election was 'Protecting Monterey County for future generations,' and having a fresh but experienced person in the job is going to be good for constituents in District 4, and the county as whole."
Parker has a particular "fresh but experienced" candidate in mind: Her aide for the past 10 years, Wendy Root Askew, who is running for the seat.
Salinas City Councilman Steve McShane has also launched an exploratory committee to consider running for the seat, and has been appearing at events throughout District 4, which includes South Salinas, Marina and Seaside, as well as a portion of the former Fort Ord between Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula, including East Garrison and CSU Monterey Bay.
Askew was running her own food brokerage business out of her home before she went to work on Parker's staff.
"I loved working for myself and I loved the food brokerage business, but I was missing some of the connection to community," Askew says. She was appointed by former county Supervisor Jerry Smith to the Community Action Board, and got to know Parker through her work there before Parker launched her first campaign for county supervisor in 2008. Askew sold her business, then became an original member of Parker's staff when she was first sworn in in 2009.
"I said, 'This isn't the kind of opportunity you say no to,'" she says.
"For me, much of my work [for the county] has been looking at social issues.
We're talking the things that families need to be successful: from housing, to social services that work for people, to having communities you feel safe raising your kids in. In so many ways, that's what the county does, and services the county provides."
The primary election is March 3, 2020.
Parker says some of her proudest accomplishments over the past 10 years (with nearly two more to go) are process-related, such as getting all committee agendas posted online and conducting routine performance evaluations for staffers who report directly to the Board of Supervisors.
She also takes pride in hosting regular constituent meetings, something she says changed the decision-making process. "Really bringing the community more fully into the conversation and the decision-making, that's what I am proudest of," she says.
Askew lives in Marina and was elected to the board of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in 2015; her term will end in 2020 when she plans to seek the position of county supervisor, leaving an open seat on MPUSD's board.