Our choice for supervisor
In May, we expressed the opinion that Sonoma needed a supervisor for the 1st District seat who is of and from this Valley.
Governance is a combination of skills and relationships and it’s harder to have relationships without shared history. But after the June 5 primary the Sonoma Valley candidates were eliminated, leaving two members of the Santa Rosa City Council – Susan Gorin and John Sawyer – to compete for the November vote, and leaving the Valley without an indigenous supervisorial voice for the first time in memory.
That’s a political reality that may become fixed as the population of Santa Rosa continues to expand and dominate the demographics of the district. Be that as it may, Valley voters are lucky that the two contenders are both highly qualified candidates with lengthy resumes of public service and experience in elective office.
So who’s the best choice?
We found that to be a tough call because we find admirable qualities in both candidates and we don’t doubt each understands the importance of having both a physical and political presence in the Valley.
There are, however, some differences, both real and imagined, including some that have been exaggerated by both sides. Gorin has been accused of being in the palm of the public employees union – SEIU – and of being too anti-business. Sawyer is touted as a pawn of big business, realtors and the ag industry, with inadequate environmental sensitivities.
In this non-partisan contest, both candidates are openly-declared Democrats, but Gorin is viewed as the liberal and Sawyer as the conservative.
We expect that Gorin, given her endorsements from the Sierra Club and Sonoma County Conservation Action, may be the more aggressive advocate on environmental issues. Conversely, we suspect that Sawyer, given his endorsements and substantial financial support from both construction and agriculture interests, could be more responsive to the wishes of the building trades and farmers.
Gorin’s contributions from the SEIU, and Sawyer’s donations from Syer Industries (which mines Russian River gravel) and the trucking industry, may suggest future political IOUs.
But we don’t really think Sawyer is anti-environment or that Gorin is anti-business and we suspect they are closer on most issues than their campaign rhetoric suggests.
Which leads us to the question of character and we must confess a certain distaste with Gorin’s expedient move from a Fountaingrove home outside the district to an Oakmont rental in the district, just in order to run.
She has said she was just a “stone’s throw” outside the district, some “900 yards,” but that’s half a mile and anyone who can throw a stone that far should contact the Giants.
We like John Sawyer’s candor, we respect his judgment, we like his deep family history in Sonoma County, and in the end he’ll get our vote for supervisor.