CO$T CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS – November 3, 2020 Election

CO$T is pleased to endorse for the November 3, 2020 election Dr. Paul da Silva for the College of Marin Board and Ms. Mandy Downing for the Tamalpais Union High School District Board. Both these candidates solicited our endorsement and provided extensive, thoughtful answers to our detailed questionnaire probing their views on topics likely to come before the board on which they hope to serve. We urge our supporters to vote for these exceptional candidates whom we believe can effect positive change at these two important educational districts.

The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers endorses candidates for local elected office in the limited situations where we believe a particular candidate is especially well suited for the post and we are very familiar with the issues faced by the jurisdiction, district, or agency. Candidates seeking CO$T’s endorsement should contact us soon after filing papers to run for office.

CO$T Endorses Paul da Silva for College of Marin Board

CO$T endorses Dr. Paul da Silva for the College of Marin Board.  Dr. da Silva is a recently retired biology professor.  Since no current board members are educators or have faculty or other inside experience at the college, Dr. da Silva would bring to the board an important perspective and workable ideas for solving vexing problems.

Dr. da Silva’s careful habits as a scientist appear to carry over into his approach to the college’s problems generally, and he has budgeting experience as a former department chair.  His 16-page response to COST’s questionnaire provided insightful critiques of current approaches and suggestions for improvement for academic programs, expenditures, and long-term priorities. He specifically identifies reducing large construction cost over-runs and use of outside consultants as important opportunities to make taxpayer money go further. In another community-friendly initiative, Dr. da Silva backs lower facility rental fee charges (e.g., meeting space) for low-budget groups that disseminate knowledge and information.

In answer to CO$T’s question, he spelled out his list of the college’s current challenges and opportunities, which we’ve summarized below:

  • Educational Excellence. The college must maintain and enhance the quality of its learning experiences by providing a diverse curriculum and using the best personnel, facilities, equipment, supplies and methods.
  • Economic Efficiency. The college must remember that because its overall purpose is education, all expenditures must be evaluated in terms of the educational benefits they provide.
  • Enhance Social Equity on Campus.
  • Enlightened Environmentalism. COM should work to solve environmental problems not only in its courses, but also in its facilities and operations.

Dr. da Silva’s careful approach and inside perspective should earn him a place on the College of Marin board.

CO$T Endorses Mandy Downing for Tamalpais Union High School District Board

CO$T endorses Mandy Downing for TUHSD board and urges voters to vote for her ONLY – what’s known as a “bullet vote” — even though two positions on the board are open for this election. A bullet approach amplifies your vote for Ms. Downing and increases her chances in a field that includes 2 incumbents and 3 challengers (who would normally split among them the votes of people who want change). In Mandy’s application for endorsement and conversations with CO$T Directors, she showed a real willingness to embrace new approaches to board decisions and district oversight. We believe the District would benefit from new blood.


Ms. Downing brings an energy to this campaign that is rare to see, and, moreover, she will be able to spend full time on behalf of the board when she is elected.  She is a current parent yet appears to appreciate that the trustees on this board must represent a variety of members of the community, not just those on campus.


While Mandy and CO$T do not agree on all issues, we believe she is open to well-reasoned input and will not just rubber-stamp management preferences. Her questionnaire responses showed a pragmatic approach that will serve Tam Union well, such as:

  • Mandy supports Measure M (the current flat parcel tax measure on the November ballot, which would extend for 9 years funding that currently comprises 17% of the district’s budget). But, if it fails, she is open to looking at a fairer per square foot parcel tax and says she would oppose using taxpayer money to hire a polling consultant (favoring instead a conversation with the larger community about what it would support). She believes in a balanced budget that does not depend on reserve spending and recognizes this may involve some hard decisions about spending priorities as well as looking for any additional revenue sources.
  • Mandy is committed to scrutinizing the budget with an eye to maximizing the educational impact of available taxpayer dollars. Mandy advocates for Tam Union to define its priorities and align spending accordingly. She urges the District to look for opportunities for shared services and collaborations. Mandy would also like the board to be more active in pension reform at the District and State levels.