Thursday, October 21, 2004
~ COUNTY OF
DISTRICT 4 >> Jane Parker
The race for District 4 Supervisor is hugely important, and the choice, as this week’s cover story shows, is clear: The Weekly heartily endorses Jane Parker. She’s got the big-picture vision and the practical skills to help solve the county’s economic crisis, produce low-income and workforce housing for people who live and work here, ensure that health care remains accessible for every resident, and get the General Plan Update process back on track.
In ‘98, the Weekly endorsed Jerry Smith in his successful bid for Seaside Mayor. But six years later, we cannot endorse Smith for supervisor. Like recent mayors before him, he seems to have been seduced by developers and special interests. He has said he would have voted to stop the county’s General Plan process, aligning himself with developers and large landowners—not the public interest. As chair of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, he opposed Rep. Sam Farr’s initiative to require that at least 50 percent of the houses built on Fort Ord be affordable.
And even though this is a non-partisan race, we’re perplexed why a life-long, African-American Democrat with union roots would switch his party affiliation to Republican. The only apparent answer we can come up with is money, or access to more money. It looks like this switch of parties may help springboard him to higher office, and we don’t like that one bit.
Parker, on the other hand, embodies independence and integrity, and would bring some much-needed intelligence to the Board. Plus, we believe at least one woman should hold the office of County Supervisor. Parker offers specific ideas to fix the problems facing the county. Whereas Smith has been vague, if not evasive in our numerous conversations with him, Parker is forthright and detailed. Monterey County needs Parker.
~ CITY OF SALINAS
MAYOR >> Anna Caballero
Incumbent Mayor Anna Caballero knows the issues facing the city inside and out. She should. She’s been mayor since ‘98. And prior to being elected mayor, she served as a councilmember. So she’s been attending weekly council meetings for a total of 14 years now and she continues to work as executive director for Partners for Peace.
On one hand, this combination of jobs give Caballero a unique perspective on the city’s schools and its youth, its poor and crime-infested neighborhoods, and the community effort it will take to rid the city of gangs. On the other hand, she’s spread thin. Some of her constituents complain that she’s out of touch with the city.
Nevertheless, she’s a smart, well-spoken and effective politician who’s good at lobbying Sacramento and Washington.
We are very impressed by her opponent, Jose Castañeda. He’s young, idealistic and a hard worker. He’s spent the last eight years mentoring kids who’ve been expelled from school and working in gang prevention and crisis counseling.
He’s an Alisal Union School District trustee and a product of the same public school district. Living and working in East Salinas, he’s had a courtside view as street violence has increased, home prices have skyrocketed, and parks, streets and sidewalks have gone to pot.
He’s got great ideas about asking the city to partner with local schools and colleges, to salvage library hours and rec programs, and asking big agriculture leaders to pump more money into a city whose residents are making them rich, but when asked to provide a list of his supporters to the Weekly, Castañeda said he would, and then didn’t.
We like his ideas, but we need to see that he’s working to build some type of foundation under them. We wish Castañeda was running for council, rather than mayor.
And two years out, when Caballero can again run for mayor, or something else, we hope to see her throw her hat into the race for state Assembly. For this year, she’s got our vote.
DISTRICT 4 >> Gloria De La Rosa
After announcing she wouldn’t run again for City Council, De La Rosa is now seeking another term. Maybe it’s because she was worried what would happen should her opponent, Angie Morfin Vargas, take her seat. We would be worried, too.
Morfin Vargas is a staunch conservative who likes to blame all of the city’s problems on immigration, and in October 2002, she filed a lawsuit claiming that the city unlawfully spent more than $250,000 of taxpayers’ money to campaign against Measure O, the unsuccessful initiative that would have axed the city’s utility tax.
We applaud the work De La Rosa has done with Neighbors United, an anti-violence coalition she founded earlier this year. When we endorsed De La Rosa in 2000 (after she missed two endorsement meetings) we suggested she invest in a Palm Pilot. This seems to be her constituents’ biggest complaint too, that she’s almost impossible to get a hold of.
After missing more interviews and failing to return phone calls this time around, we would again make that pitch for the Palm Pilot.
MEASURES A, B, C
Here’s how straightforward these three measures really are: The Salinas Chamber of Commerce and the Grower-Shippers Association are supporting A-B-C, and these guys don’t ever favor raising taxes. Ever.
Measures A, B and C are really no-brainers. Vote yes on all of the above. Measure A is a half-cent sales tax that will be reduced to a quarter-cent in five years and go away altogether in 15 years; and Measures B and C are a business-only tax that will allow the city to tax big utility users more, and raise business license tax rates.
If voters don’t approve these taxes the city will be forced to cut $9.5 million from its budget immediately. This will involve closing all three public libraries, cutting all recreation services, and axing more than 20 police officers and firefighters. It won’t be pretty.
In fact, if you do vote no on A-B-C, go ahead and invest in bulletproof windows. And don’t even think about leaving the house again.
~ CITY OF MONTEREY ~
>> Dan Albert
Dan Albert is an institution in Monterey and he hasn’t faced a challenging opponent in some time. Mayor Albert is the best candidate to lead Monterey now, especially with the potential for base closures on the horizon and considering his able leadership in the recent years. His city has done some work with mixed-used developments, and keeps being one of the greatest places to live and visit. Albert wants to continue work on the project to open up the view to the ocean from Del Monte Avenue, known as the Window on the Bay. He also pushes for a year-round bus shuttle and wants to institute a program to plant trees around the city. Furthermore Albert wants to see more affordable housing in his city, and that’s just what Monterey needs.
Four Year Seat >> Jeff Haferman
A tireless neighborhood advocate and political outsider, Jeff Haferman ran for but lost a bid for city council back in 2002. Before and since, he’s made a name for himself around city hall as an observant critic of certain city initiatives—especially the effort to build a new city hall. While city employees need better working conditions, several problems have forced budget cutbacks, and he feels it is hardly the time to construct a large new public building. While that position is debatable, it demonstrates that Haferman can be trusted to study issues carefully and be a voice of reason.
Another good reason to vote for Haferman is that he brings new blood to the council. He enjoys the support of several progressive voices in the community, such as local attorneys Michael Stamp and Bill Monning. He’s also endorsed by Edie Karas, widow of the late county supervisor, Sam Karas.
Four Year Seat >> No Endorsement: You Choose
When offered more than one good candidate for one seat, it becomes nearly impossible to narrow the choice down. A voter might go on name recognition or something as simple as a familiar face. When considering the second seat for the Monterey City Council there are a few familiar names. Some of the candidates could be trusted to shake up the council but have come down on the wrong side of certain issues, or have problematic perspectives and associations. The remaining may be less troubling but still a bit problematic. There’s Barbara Bass Evans. She’s been a thorn in the city’s side for a long time on issues such as the budget, the new City Hall, and preserving the waterfront. She’s also a critical thinker who probably knows more about city operations than some people who should. But she’s a polarizing figure and a seat on the council would mean she’d have to tone it down, as she promises to do. There’s also Dick Vreeland. He was appointed to the council last winter when his wife, longtime council member Ruth Vreeland, died in a car accident on Highway 101. If elected, we’d like to see the same sort of energy and enthusiasm in Dick that Ruth brought to the table. He’s proposed studying a joint powers agreement to manage the water supply. It’s a controversial issue and deserves exploration. Then there’s Libby Downey, current chair of the Parks Commission. A public health nurse who has lived in Monterey for 40 years, she has the best interests of the city at heart, although she only wants half of the city’s share of Fort Ord land used for affordable housing, while other candidates propose devoting it all to help the affordable housing shortage.
All we can say is pick one…
Two Year Seat >> Clyde Roberson
Former mayor and longtime city council member Clyde Roberson can be counted on to make the right decisions, especially when it comes to environmental issues.
Having been a teacher for 35 years, he understands the demands of education in a town with changing demographics. Roberson has a long legacy of doing good for the city, such as his work to build the ever-popular Monterey Sports Center.
Roberson has resisted what he calls “massive projects on our coastline.”
We have been lucky to have Roberson’s service and hope to keep it.
The city needs money. All things being relative, Monterey is a rich city, so when it cuts, it cuts fat for a while before hitting bone. That said, the city faces a $2 million budget shortfall. Rather than raise the hotel tax, this measure fairly spreads the burden to visitors and locals. Curiously, the financial backers of the measure are the Cannery Row Company, The Monterey Plaza hotel and the Marriott. Ted Balestreri of the Cannery Row Company says this measure is about funding public safety for everyone, including tourists. By backing the measure he says “We’re just trying to be good corporate citizens.” Either way, the measure has the support of city hall as it’s something that the city needs. At only 25 cents on a $100 purchase, it will be barely felt by the consumer, but add up all those quarters and it means something to the city.
~ CITY OF MARINA
>> Bruce Delgado
There is no doubt at all that Marina has changed with Mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon at the reins. She’s been an effective leader for a city with the most to gain by the closure of Fort Ord. However, what will happen in Marina’s future has all but been determined by development plans underway in some form or another.
Even if it’s not illegal that the Mayor went on a cruise with two representatives of developers who also happen to be her friends, that’s just too cozy.
And while not final, these projects are clear enough that few major pieces of the puzzle are unknown.
It’s now a matter of making those new developments the kinds of places where residents can, as some say in Marina, “live, work and play.” Finding the way to do that is Bruce Delgado’s expertise.
While it might have made for better balance to have Delgado remain on the council rather than risk his seat by challenging a powerful incumbent, he will make an effective leader for a community with only good things to gain as it designs its future.
CITY COUNCIL >> Richard Boynton
CITY COUNCIL >> Gary Wilmot
As former chair of the Design Review Board and chair of the Tree Committee, Boynton can be counted on to pay attention to the environmental concerns that will arise as the city continues the approval process of some significant developments with major impacts on available water and remaining land. In recent years, Marina has been dominated by pressure to develop—and rightly so as the closure of Fort Ord has heaped upon the city a huge opportunity to transform itself. Boynton is in the landscaping business, and with a green-leaning citizen on the council like him, that pressure to see consistent growth in a city clamoring for progress can be tempered with his ear for moderation.
Although he often steps on toes in his public addresses at Marina City Hall, Gary Wilmot is smart and articulate. A software engineer by trade, he thinks his ideas through. He’s been involved in Marina city issues for a long time and isn’t afraid to stand up and be heard.
Wilmot would make a good addition to the city council and a worthy replacement for incumbent Michael Morrison, who is not always judicious in his public performances, and tends to make outrageous statements.
City Of Marina Utility Tax >> Yes
Given California’s fiscal woes, all its cities need money, and this revenue goes right into the general fund. This is an extension of an existing measure.
~ CITY OF PACIFIC GROVE
>> Jim Costello
Costello, a teacher at Pacific Grove Middle School and a nine-year council veteran, knows the issues inside and out, a fact that gives him an automatic edge over challenger Steve Polkabla. But there’s more in Costello’s favor.
While serving on a council that seems to have invented groupthink, Costello has proven his ability to function independently on critical issues—among them whether to wait for Measure I to have its day at the polls before starting construction on the controversial golf course clubhouse (Costello wanted to wait).
He brings a steady, thoughtful pragmatism to the table, but more than that he’s capable of respectful disagreement—a quality in very short supply at Pagrovia’s City Hall, where citizens too often complain of mistreatment at the hands of imperious councilmembers.
Costello could win some sorely needed goodwill for the council. We hope so.
>> Dan Cort
Historic preservationist Dan Cort has served on the PG Planning Commission for several years and now chairs it, so he’s well-versed in the subject that most interests Pagrovians: deciding who builds what, where and how big.CITY COUNCIL >> Bruce Obbink
He also possesses diplomatic skills that the council sorely needs at this juncture. What we like best about Cort, though, are his ideas for revitalizing downtown PG through mixed-use planning, or putting residential units above storefronts. This is widely recognized as a smart way to accommodate growth in areas with high population pressure and higher housing costs, yet, amazingly, some candidates have stated outright opposition to this approach.
What PG would lose by having a downtown that showed signs of life after 9pm is a mystery to us, and apparently it’s a mystery to Cort too. He’s forward-thinking, and PG badly needs people like him on its council.
CITY COUNCIL >> Scott Miller
In 2002, Bruce Obbink lost his bid for a PG city council seat by some 50 votes. As a result, he did what few losers of close elections have ever done: he attended every council meeting and audited every committee report in the next two years on his own time. To this newspaper that is proof positive that the spirit of public service is alive and well. Obbink is a retired CEO of an agricultural trade group and has extensive management and budgetary experience. He has been a strong advocate for the business and hospitality communities and the golf course—including the controversial golf clubhouse renovation.
The current council, presumably with support from the golf advisory board which Obbink chairs, railroaded the groundbreaking of the clubhouse in advance of a vote of the people. That sort of disdain for those who disagree with the current majority on the council amounts to a slap in the face of participatory government.
We demand that Obbink replace the obvious disenchantment that many residents in Pacific Grove have toward that type of heavy-handed leadership. Instead, Obbink should demonstrate that reasonable people can disagree, and that in the end, the value of good ideas and civil discourse will trump raw legislative authority.
In terms of lifelong dedication to public service and to the community of Pacific Grove, Scott Miller’s resume needs no defense from this newspaper. He is a 27-year law enforcement officer, serving the last six as Chief of Police in PG. His educational, service and management credentials are solid. He is also a lifelong resident who cannot conceal his obvious love of the community and its environmental and historic heritage. He has impressed us with his detailed understanding of the big issues, and niggling minutiae that will help to steward the council. He was also dismissed by the current city manager. While there is apprehension that Miller might use a council seat to make life miserable for those who don’t like him, we endorse his candidacy, as we think he will hold himself and the rest of the council to a standard of openness and accountability for all those who have business before the city.
The two city council incumbents deserve mention: Don Gasperson and Sue Renz are both knowledgeable and straightforward, and we like that. But we are encouraged by the breadth of new personalities and feel that the city will be well-served by this transition. We would also like to commend Susan Nilmeier, Jeff Flathers and Steven Polkabla for their interest in city government and suggest that they apply their talents first to any of the various commissions around town and gain some political experience, then throw their hats back in the ring for the next election.
~ CITY OF SEASIDE
>> Ralph Rubio
The race for mayor of Seaside is contentious in that three of the five candidates are currently on the city council. Tom Mancini and Darryl Choates run from safe seats, so even if they lose the bid for Mayor, they remain on the city council.
Choates deserves high marks for standing up to the controversial First Tee youth golf project, and for creating his own ideas about the also controversial auto park plan.
But Ralph Rubio will make a better mayor. Rubio has a union background and is a Democrat, but he enjoys the support of mayors and local leaders, including many Republicans. He’s articulate and clear and has a long record of service.
He has been criticized for carrying Mayor Jerry Smith’s water on the council, but as mayor he can be expected to take the initiative on his own. Rubio also makes a lot of big promises in his campaign; the Weekly and others expect him to deliver.
>> Steve Bloomer
If there’s a city council member—currently the Mayor Pro-Tem—who can be trusted to read all the pertinent information prior to a council meeting, it’s Steve Bloomer. Very detail-oriented, he has the experience to be an effective council member, with past stints on the Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board.CITY COUNCIL>> Paul Mugan
A Seaside native, he enjoys the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Jerry Smith as well as the mayors of neighboring Del Rey Oaks, Marina and Sand City.
Bloomer offers “continuity,” and now that Seaside is on a roll, continuity is just what it needs. He says his favorite project is doing something with the empty space at Fremont and West Broadway. It’s been an eyesore for years. Let’s see if he can do something there.
As chairman of the Seaside Planning Commission, Paul Mugan has been a conscientious voice for good planning. Although his concerns over the design of a drive-thru Starbucks Coffee did not find much traction, he is just what the city needs on the council. For one thing, he is a professional planner for the county. As such, he speaks the language of development, a subject that will dominate city council agendas for years to come. Mugan ruffled some feathers when he first came on the planning commission, earning him a rebuke from Mayor Smith. But he did not back down and continues to serve. Mugan gets our endorsement as a fresh new voice on a council that needs one.