June 3rd Primary Election Guide
Voting is the crux of civic participation. It’s a process that should be open to everyone, whereby we as citizens decide which new laws to enact directly, or which representatives we trust to govern indirectly. The following is a voting guide that details the ballot measures and candidates being considered at the local level for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. This guide does not take positions or endorse specific candidates. It is a non-partisan overview meant to inform voting decisions from as objective a perspective as possible. Races where candidates are running unopposed have been excluded from this list.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
In the first election for County Sheriff since 1994, three candidates are vying to take the place of outgoing Sheriff Phil Wowak. For his part, Wowak has endorsed his Chief Deputy Jim Hart, who has also been endorsed by wide array of elected officials, law enforcement organizations and political groups. However this has not been without controversy, as both of the other contenders, retired Sheriff Lt. Roger Wildey and retired Sheriff Lt. Bob Pursely claim that Hart was given an unfair advantage in knowing when his boss was going to retire, giving him more time to reach out to potential endorsees. To see a more in depth overview about how these candidates stand on a host of local issues we recommend watching some of the videos from the candidate forum hosted by the Santa Cruz County Business Council and Chamber of Commerce.
3rd District Supervisor
Santa Cruz County’s 3rd Supervisor District includes a large chunk of the city of Santa Cruz, including downtown, the westside and the UCSC campus; as well as the county’s north coast. The seat is being vacated by retiring Supervisor Neal Coonerty, who has endorsed his son Ryan Coonerty for the position. Ryan, who is founder of PredPol, and has also been the mayor of Santa Cruz, is facing Bob Lamonica, a long time political activist and self-employed technology marketer.
4th District Supervisor
The 4th Supervisor District covers all of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley, and is currently held by incumbent Greg Caput. However, he faces 3 challengers who hope to dispatch of him the same way he did of incumbent Tony Campos 4 years ago. One of them is Terry Medina, the former Watsonville Police Chief, who also happens to lead the pack in fundraising with over $50,000 so far. Another is Dana Sales, a longtime member of the Pajaro Valley Unified School Board and County Board of Education Trustee, who also works in Real Estate. The final challenger is Jimmy Dutra, the youngest candidate, who is a local businessman with strong family ties to the valley in the form of Dutra Farms.
Santa Cruz County Measure F
Measure F is a parcel tax increase of roughly $2.00 that would replace an existing service charge of $6.58 per resident parcel with a unit tax of $8.50. The money, roughly $350,000 a year, would go towards increased maintenance and expanded services at county parks. This measure only applies to Santa Cruz County residents who live in the unincorporated areas of the County
Watsonville Measure G
Measure G is a half cent sales tax that would fund public safety measures in the city of Watsonville. If approved the tax will last for 7 years and generate close to 20 million dollars over the course of it’s lifetime. This money will be set aside in a special fund to be used to for city police and fire services. It requires approval from two-thirds of voters and only applies to Watsonville residents.
Watsonville Measure H
Measure H would amend the city of Watsonville’s charter regarding city council vacancies. Currently, when a seat becomes vacant mid term, the council is supposed to appoint someone within 30 days. If passed, Measure H would mandate that a special election be held to fill the seat within 90 days.
Watsonville Measure I
Measure I would amend the city of Watsonville’s charter regarding the selection of Mayor. Currently, the mayor is selected by a vote of the sitting council members. If passed, Measure I would rotate the position among Watsonville’s 7 city council districts.
Watsonville Measure J
Measure J would change the way the city names parks and other public places. Currently, the city council decides via a normal vote amongst council members. If passed, Measure J would allow for each member of the council to nominate 1 name, for a total of 7 possible names, which would then go before a popular vote.
Scotts Valley Measure A
Measure A authorizes the district to borrow $35 million to fund a new middle school in replacement of the 70 year old building that exists now. It would also direct 2 million dollars to earthquake safety repairs at Vine Hill Elementary School and Brook Knoll Elementary School. The bonds would be repaid over a maximum of 30 years through a property tax on homeowners of $57 per $100,000 of assessed home value.
Monterey County Superior Court Seat 3
Monterey County Superior Court Seat 8
Monterey County Superior Court Seat 10
In a somewhat rare event, three seats are open on the Monterey County Superior Court, two of which are contested. Heidi Whilden, a family law commissioner on the Monterey County Superior Court, faces Administrative Law Judge Luma Serrano Williams for the tenth seat. And for the third seat, Salinas defense attorney Andrew Liu faces Deputy District Attorney Steve Somers. Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hulsey is running unopposed. Together, the races for these campaigns have accumulated over $130,000 in funding, well over a typical election for judicial seats.
Monterey County Sheriff/Coroner
The race for Monterey County Sheriff includes incumbent Scott Miller, former police commander Mike Richards, former commander Fred Garcia (who’s run for sheriff in the past), and police deputy Steve Bernal. Bernal has raised the most money, $67,000 – more than the other three candidates combined.
In what may be the most controversial issue before Monterey voters on June 3rd, Measure O calls for a 9 month feasibility study on whether the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District should acquire private water company Cal-Am’s assets within the district. Should the study find that a public takeover is feasible, the district would then take actions to either purchase Cal-Am’s assets or acquire them through eminent domain. Cal-Am has raised over $2.4 million to defeat the measure (almost unheard of in local races) while supporters have raised close to $100,000.
Shared Races (in both counties)
US Representative for District 20
Sam Farr – D
Paul Kabat – R
Representing the Monterey Peninsula since 1993, Sam Farr is running for another term. Also in the race is Tea-Party candidate Paul Kabat. Being that there are only two candidates in the race and that California has adopted a top-two primary system, both Farr and Kabat will advance and face off against one another in the November election.
State Assembly District 29
Mark Stone – D
Palmer Kain – R
The race for State Assembly District 29, encompassing parts of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara, features incumbent Democrat Mark Stone and his challenger Palmer Kain. With only two candidates in the race, both will proceed to the general election in November.