Thursday, November 7, 2002
Photo: Maria Giuriato beat Paul Fickas for a seat on the Salinas City Council. Photo Credit:Randy Tunnell
Early election results showing Caballero in the lead were greeted with whoops and whistles at Chapala restaurant Tuesday night, campaign party headquarters for both Caballero and Hartnell College bond supporters. Both camps were winning. Equally loud--maybe even louder--cheers erupted when the laptop screen showed the utility tax repeal going down in defeat.
"I''m very excited about Measure O," Caballero said. "It''s probably the most important issue this city has faced in the past 20 years. It really has to do with what kind of quality of life people want. The Libertarian view is if you dial 9-1-1 and you need a police officer you pay for it. If you need a firefighter, you pay for it. And we don''t live in a community where that happens."
Mark Dierolf, who heads the Monterey County Libertarian party, authored Measure O, an attempt to ax the city''s tax on electricity, water and cable TV.
"The question is," Caballero continued, "are people willing to invest in order to ensure that we live in a community where those city services are available?"
Apparently, the answer is yes.
Because voters defeated Measure O, the city won''t lose $8 million in jobs and programs, many of which benefit Salinas''s low-income residents.
"Everyone here is paying close attention to Measure O," agreed Hartnell Board President Darlene Dunham, fists in the air, twisting her hips in a victory dance at the college''s apparent Measure H bond win. "I have a renewed hope and excitement about the fact that this community really understands what community is. And these votes absolutely reflect that people are willing to tax themselves to make this a better community for their neighbors, their family and their friends."
Nearby, at the pro-utility-tax party, campaign chair Brigid McGrath Massie toasted the tax, and said her Save Our Services group won''t lose its momentum.
"We have established a dialogue with the city," she said. "I honestly think they are listening more closely, and hopefully we can keep talking and see more of a customer service slant."
"What we''d like to do is continue working with the city to improve the relationship between the city and the community," added Salinas grower Don Nucci. "We''d like to see more customer service--the community is the customer. And it doesn''t cost city employees anything to be polite and pleasant. A smile is free and it goes a long way in building a relationship."
The Save Our Services party doubled as incumbent Councilwoman Janet Barnes'' election night party. Barnes, whose opponent dropped out of the race last month, won the South Salinas''s District 3 seat.
In other Salinas council races, union organizer Sergio Sanchez beat businessman Ken Muscutt to represent East Salinas''s District 1. Incumbent Roberto Ocampo won the other East Salinas seat, District 2.
And late Tuesday night, newcomer Maria Giuriato pulled ahead of the other five city-council candidates for District 5. At 10pm, however, absentee ballots placed Giuriato slightly behind Republican campaign consultant Paul Fickas. Giuriato''s family and friends at Country Waffles remained confident their candidate would pull ahead. Their optimism paid off.
"I feel good about the kind of campaign we ran," Giuriato said. "We ran a high-profile, grassroots, honest, ethical campaign."
County Supervisor Lou Calcagno, who endorsed Giuriato, sat at a nearby table.
"I''m thinking the election department is pretty slow," he griped. "It''s almost 10, and they''ve only counted the absentee ballots. I sure hope Maria wins. Maria will be a great asset to the city council with her background, her knowledge of the issues, her relationship with the city and county governments."
Calcagno leaned back in the round, corner booth. "I''m confident Maria will win," he said. He was right.