Final survey of Valley candidates
Sonoma Valley voters still trying to make sense of the redistricting that shuffled legislative district lines following the 2010 census and the non-partisan re-map that followed, may be excused for any confusion they feel about who does – or will – represent them.
Here’s how things have changed.
Jared Huffman, who represented the Sixth Assembly District (including Sonoma) so ably for six years, is running for Congress in the new 2nd Congressional District, and is a shoe-in for election. He would have our support if we could vote for him, but he won’t need it.
Mike Thompson, who previously served commendably in the old 1st Congressional District, is now running to represent a smaller geographic, but more densely-populated, part of his old territory in the new 5th Congressional District.
Thompson is one of our favorite legislators – smart, seasoned, with wide experience and vast institutional memory – with the wisdom and judgment so lacking in many younger members of Congress.
He has our enthusiastic support and will, we are confident, be easily elected again.
The newly redrawn 10th Assembly District, covering Sonoma and the southern end of the Valley, along with all of Marin County, is being contested by Michael Allen, currently representing the 7th Assembly District and, until recently, a resident of Santa Rosa. He is opposed by fellow-Democrat and San Rafael City Councilmember Marc Levine, a relative newcomer politically. Allen moved to San Rafael to avoid running against imbedded members of his own party in other adjacent district races, and he brings heavy political clout to the contest.
Allen, an attorney and former union official, is currently the assistant majority leader in the Assembly and a mover and shaker in Democratic politics.
Given his experience and influence in Sacramento, we think Allen is an easy choice for election to the new district and he has our support.
The new 4th Assembly District, which incorporates the Valley from the Springs north, is being contested by current 8th District Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, a Democrat from Yolo County, and Republican John Munn, a retired soil and watershed scientist from Davis.
Yamada has a solid Sacramento track record with a particular grasp of health care reform while serving on the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee. We’d like to keep her in the legislature and she has our endorsement.
The new 3rd Senate District, that stretches from Woodland to Rohnert Park and trims Sonoma out of most of the Valley of the Moon, will almost certainly fall for Lois Wolk, a Sacramento veteran we’ve had the pleasure of meeting who will be leaving the old 5th Senate District and who racked up more than 116,000 votes against two Republican write-in candidates who totaled less than 4,000 votes between them.
Wolk is a solid, experienced, compassionate and independent legislator and we feel fortunate that she will soon represent us. She has our unqualified support.
That leaves but one other “race” on the November ballot, that for the obscure Sonoma Valley seat on the County Board of Education. The incumbent is Alex Bantis, a Kenwood resident, a veteran teacher and career counselor and member of the California School Board Association.
As far as we can tell, Bantis is extremely well-qualified and has served well on what is nonetheless a rather invisible board.
His opponent is Valley resident Gina Cuclis who most recently ran for the 1st District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors but did not make the November run-off.
Cuclis appears to be shopping for an office to occupy and we see no reason not to keep Bantis in his seat.
Other random election issues
We have expressed our support for John Sawyer for the 1st District Supervisor seat, in part because we respect his integrity. He seems to have avoided some of the more extreme campaign tactics being practiced by the camp of Susan Gorin, one of which is to accuse Sawyer of taking $47,000 in campaign contributions from “real estate and development interests from Southern California,” as one letter writer put it.
The implication is that Sawyer will be a tool of sinister, out-of-county developers intent on paving the Highway 12 corridor with Sawyer’s help.
The primary problem with this claim, is that it’s not true. According to the head of the Realtor’s association that made the Sawyer contributions, the Southern California connection results from the fact that the association’s accounting is done from a Los Angeles office. All the money donated to Sawyer came from North Bay realtor members, not from Southern California.
Equally interesting, according to the Realtor association president, Susan Gorin approached the group herself and asked for their support and money. After interviewing both candidates, the Realtors chose Sawyer. That’s hardly sinister.
One last riposte: We understand the passion of many readers who support Proposition 37, the GMO labeling law. We’d love to support it ourselves. But, like many well-intended California propositions, it’s badly written and it invites a storm of uncontrollable litigation most likely to hurt those least able to pay and least in control of GMO content.
The same problems have occurred in the wake of ADA legislation and California’s previous labeling law, Proposition 65, which has done some real good, and caused some real harm to small businesses sued by unscrupulous attorneys who collect thousands of dollars from people who found it cheaper to settle out of court.
Our conclusions about 37 are freely and independently arrived at, not the product, as some cynics have suggested, of pressure from the GMO lobby, from whom we have not heard a word.
We simply can’t support badly written laws.