Thursday, November 4, 2010
At La Villa Taqueria – in the heart of the city’s West Broadway Urban Village redevelopment area, on what we may now officially call Obama Way – several dozen supporters of incumbent Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio savor chile rellenos and chicken enchiladas while waiting for the election results to roll in.
Asked how he’s feeling, Rubio puts a hand over his heart and playfully groans: “Uhhhh.” But local power players rally to keep his spirits up, including Byrl Anderson-Smith, widow of former Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith; Councilman Ian Oglesby; and County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski.
“I think he has the plan and the vision to move us forward,” Oglesby says.
Around 9pm the early results pop up: With only 10 percent of the vote counted, Rubio is trailing opponent Felix Bachofner, 49 to 51 percent. Rubio doesn’t act fazed.
“It’s gonna be a close race,” he says. “If I were a betting man, I’d bet I win. I’ve been through a lot of these; I won’t freak out.”
Just a half-mile away, in an office building on Fremont Avenue, Bachofner hosts a crew of about 15 with cold-cut sandwiches and dipping veggies.
Joy Lucido, a retired city staffer and council critic, says she’s pleasantly stunned to see Bachofner in the lead: “The city needs a change.”
Bachofner says the race is still too close to call.
“I’m surprised the media didn’t take Ralph to task for his involvement with [controversial] decisions,” he adds. Some residents, including members of the new group Citizens for Transparency in Government, have been particularly critical of the city’s handling of last year’s ousting of former Seaside Police Chief Steve Cercone and the proposed joint powers authority consolidating Peninsula fire departments.
A few paces away, Seaside Fire Captain and council candidate Alvin Edwards wears a big grin: He leads the council race with 36 percent of the vote, followed by incumbent Dennis Alexander, with 26 percent. Challenger Annalisa Mitchell and incumbent Tom Mancini trail with less than 20 percent each. The pecking order holds in the near-final tally, including Backofner’s 51-to-49-percent win over Rubio.
With Edwards bumping Mancini off the Seaside dais, Edwards’ seat on the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District opens up for appointment by the remaining board members. He’ll also resign from the Fire Department Dec. 1, he says – just in time to be sworn onto the City Council Dec. 2.