Thursday, December 17, 2009
Carmel Valley native Jason Burnett, the 33-year-old grandson of Hewlettt Packard founder David Packard, has tested the political waters in Carmel-by-the-Sea. He’s pounded the pavement, sipped coffee with locals, and even engaged a pollster friend to query local voters about a potential race. He ruled out a run for mayor and settled on a City Council bid.
Three seats are open. Mayor Sue McCloud is winding up her fifth term in office, and City Councilmembers Paula Hazdovac and Gerard Rose, who’ve served 15 and 9 years, respectively, are also up for re-election.
McCloud couldn’t be reached for comment on whether she’ll run for re-election. Hazdovac and Rose didn’t return calls.
Burnett is a former EPA official who resigned over the Bush administration’s failure to address greenhouse gas emissions. He now runs his own environmental firm in Marina. Although the race is non-partisan, he’s a registered Democrat who will take on Republican incumbents in a town that consistently votes Democratic in statewide and national elections. He serves on the board of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic political candidates, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Burnett says he’d like to change the tone at City Hall. In recent years, taxpayers have footed the bill for court battles over allegations that City Manager Rich Guillen has favored female employees who have responded to his inappropriate sexual advances, as well as lawsuits over the fate of the Flanders Mansion and a mixed-use development at the Homescapes building on Seventh Avenue and Dolores Street.
“There are groups and individuals around town that feel they haven’t been heard, and when you aren’t heard you talk louder, and pretty soon you’re screaming and pounding the table and engaging in lawsuits,” Burnett says.
So far, Dogman McBill, a musician and self-described beatnik who has twice taken on the mayor, is her only potential opponent. “I don’t know if I’m going to win or not,” McBill says, “but I want to make sure someone’s running.”