Sheriff takes on three incumbents in Sequoia race

San Mateo County Sheriff Don Horsley is seeking to unseat one of three incumbents in the Sequoia Healthcare District race — with the support of some board members who hope to see one within their ranks voted out of office.

Both Horsely and incumbent John Oblak, president of Notre Dame De Namur University, cited the district’s health programs and the pending retrofit and reconstruction of Sequoia Hospital as top priorities in the coming term. But Jack Hickey, an avowed libertarian, said his top priority is to disband all health care districts in San Mateo County, while incumbent Art Faro said his is to see Hickey removed from office.

“His views are to deprive the community of all the hard work that the health care district performs,” said Faro, 68, a former CEO of Sequoia Hospital who is seeking his third term on the board.

Hickey, who is investigating whether it was legal for the Sequoia Hospital Board to become the Sequoia Healthcare District in 1998, argues that the agency spends too much taxpayer money on things such as public relations, legal fees and boardmember health insurance. He would like to ask voters whether they support the existence of health care districts.

“If the voters reject it, the districts will go away — including the Peninsula Health Care District,” said Hickey, 72, referring to another district within the county. Hickey is seeking his second term on the board.

The Sequoia Healthcare District has a budget of more than $60 million a year, much of which goes toward providing health care to children, grants to health-related community organizations and partnerships with Cañada College’s nursing program and with Samaritan House. The district board will also oversee the $130 million retrofit and reconstruction of Sequoia Hospital, which Horsley, 62, would like to see move ahead soon.

“I think [hospital operator] Catholic Healthcare West will move forward with it, but the longer they delay, the more the price goes up,” Horsley said. In addition, Horsley would like to expand health care to low-income residents, particularly immigrants.

Oblak, 64, was appointed to the board two years ago. He sees Horsley’s entry into the race as a healthy sign for the future of the health care district.

“There are some who suggest that it should be dismantled, but we have some good tax dollars going to use for good people who would not otherwise have health care,” Oblak said. “That’s what we need to be about.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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