Put popcorn in the microwave and pull up a chair for next year’s political show of the season: the Santa Clara County Assessor’s race. No, we’re serious. Normally the dullest election around, incumbent Larry Stone has had an opponent only twice since being elected more than a quarter of a century ago, and the last one—Pete McHugh in 2006—he beat by three-to-one.
This time, water board director and entrepreneur Gary Kremen, who was inventing online dating in the internet’s early days as the founder of Match.com when Stone won the office in 1994, promises to make things interesting. Kremen claims he has collected a large list of endorsers—though he has yet to publish that roll—and wants to leverage his technology experience to modernize the office.
Stone, who turned 80 this year and boasted about his list of more than 70 endorsers, cites automation for being able to grow annual tax receipts more than fourfold to a cool half-trillion-plus while his budget grew at less than the rate of inflation.
“I’m good at it,” Stone says. He acknowledges that he irritated his union by insisting on implementing performance evaluations early on, and for pushing in-person attendance for some employees during the pandemic.
“Gary Kremen is sucking the tit of the union,” Stone told Fly, “That’s what the whole race will be about.” Later in an interview, he said he regretted putting it that way.
Stone sent over a list of 16 electeds who’ve endorsed him, mostly white and from San Jose and Sunnyvale, where he once served as mayor. Kremen, meanwhile, says he has been Hoovering up a diverse list of public officials in cities around the valley.
Kremen, who was in a joint meeting of Valley Water and the chatty San Jose City Council, was unavailable to fire back as Fly went to press. He’s not shy with his opinions either, so get ready for what promises to be a race worth paying attention to.