Sebastopol City Council likely decided
During an historic election night that leaves marked changes in the nation’s political arena, Sonoma County voters also paved the way for sea changes in policy and political leaders.
Fifth District Supervisor
Putting a turbulent and tight election to bed in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, political newcomer Lynda Hopkins won the Fifth District election Tuesday night, becoming the first woman supervisor for Sonoma County’s largest district.
With all precincts reported around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the tally gave Hopkins a 54.1 percent margin (16,589 votes) over former senator Noreen Evans (14,048).
Hopkins, who celebrated the victory during an election party in Roseland, said she was grateful for the support of the fifth district
“It feels like the more than 30,000 doors we knocked on and phone calls we made were worth while,” Hopkins said.
Last November, Hopkins became the first candidate to throw her name into the hat for current Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s seat.
“I am very happy for the people of the Fifth District,” said Susan Upchurch, Carrillo’s District Director and treasurer for Hopkins’ campaign. “I’m looking forward to working with Lynda Hopkins.”
Hopkins and her husband Emmett live in Forestville and own Foggy River Farm, an organic vegetable farm off Eastside Road in the Russian River Valley. The couple has two daughters, Gillian, 2 and Adeline, 1.
She conceded that many in the district didn’t support her.
“This has been a very divisive race,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been thinking about how to work to reunite the district. There’s a bridge that’s divided us and I know I’m going to have to work hard to earn the trust of those who didn’t elect me.”
Her plans began Wednesday, with calling those who didn’t support her in an effort to “keep listening and hearing what the people want,” Hopkins said.
She plans on hitting the ground hard to establish her goals for her first year in office.
“There’s a lot I want to get done after getting elected,” Hopkins said, citing continuing her town forums, especially in Roseland.
Sebastopol City Council
A record number of Sebastopol voters turned out for the Sebastopol City Council race, eventually electing Neysa Hinton and Michael Anthony Carnacchi as the two council-elects. Hinton took top billing at 39.3 percent (2,027 votes) of the precinct votes, with Carnacchi garnering 23.8 percent (1,227)
The tally for write-in candidates, which included votes for qualified write-in candidate Craig Litwin, as well as any other write-ins, accounted for 20.6 percent of votes (1,065). Jonathan Greenberg finished fourth with 16.3 percent (840 votes).
Bill Rousseau, Sonoma County’s Clerk-Recorder-Assessor said the county has 30 days to complete the canvas phase of counting the ballots, during which they record each separate write-in candidate.
Rousseau also said more absentee/mail in ballots are still expected to trickle in for Tuesday night’s election, meaning Wednesday morning outcomes could potentially change.
“Sonoma County is expecting a heavy vote-by-mail turn out, with ballots coming in through Saturday,” Rousseau said.
However, Rousseau has doubts that much will change in Sebastopol’s City Council race.
“At most there are maybe 200 absentee ballots still out there,” Rousseau said. “Could it make a difference? Maybe. Most likely, not.”
Although the race between Carnacchi and the reported write-in candidate votes were close — spaced by a mere 162 votes — Sebastopol’s small voter pool gives Litwin slim chances of being Sebastopol’s first successful write-in city council candidate.
During the 2014 election, roughly 4,400 Sebastopol citizens were registered voters. City clerk/Assistant City Manager Mary Gourley reported in mid-June that the 2014 election brought 3,219 voters to the polls.
The swearing in of the new city council members is tentatively scheduled for the city council’s Dec. 6 meeting, pending the final results of the election.
The requested tax increase to support the Sonoma County Regional Parks failed to gain enough voter support Tuesday night, missing its required 67 percent voting margin by 3.2 percent.
However, absentee ballots could work in favor for Measure J.
“Vote-by-mail is the wild card,” Rousseau said.
Measure J, the Regional Parks Tax Measure, sought a half-cent sales tax increase on taxable goods sold in unincorporated Sonoma County. The measure included a highly detailed plan to expand, maintain and improve Sonoma County Regional Parks.
Because the tax only applied to the unincorporated area, only registered voters in those precincts were eligible to vote. The increase would have been levied for 10 years.
With no surprise, Measure K, the Sonoma County Community Separators Protection Ordinance passed with more than 81.5 percent approval. Measure K will extend the soon-to-expire county community separators ordinance, protecting a total of 53,576 acres of open space and farm lands. The ordinance works in conjunction with the nine urban growth boundaries established by each Sonoma County city to preserve the green space in the county.
“Sonoma County voters have once again expressed their love of the landscape and preservation for our agrarian roots through this outpouring support for Measure K,” said Dennis Rosatti, general consultant for the measure. “These results bode well for upcoming efforts to renew urban growth boundaries and expand open space and parkland.”
Sonoma County voters approved a 3 percent increase in transient occupancy tax (TOT) collected in unincorporated parts of the county. Measure L, the Sonoma County Tourist Tax, passed with more than 69 percent of voters in favor of the measure.
For hospitality businesses in unincorporated areas of the county, the TOT rate is 9 percent; Measure L’s passage increases the rate to 12 percent. The TOT has not been raised since 1992, when it increased from 8 to 9 percent. The county estimates the additional TOT revenue will bring in an additional $4.8 million per year. County staff anticipates an additional $3.6 million would go to the county’s tourism advertising program, with the remaining $1.2 million going into the county’s General Fund.
The ban on genetically engineered seeds and crops passed with 55.9 percent, placing Sonoma County among a regional swath of five coastal counties with similar bans.
The Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance will “protect Sonoma County’s native plants, trees and animals from transgenic contamination from genetically engineered (GE) organisms,” according to ordinance language. In essence, GE organisms that have had their DNA or RNA altered are banned, as are methods of fusing cells in an effort to help plants overcome natural barriers — such as weather, soil and exposure to insects.
The ban is effective in unincorporated Sonoma County, where 90 percent of the county’s agriculture is estimated to occur, according to Karen Hudson, lead proponent with Citizens for Healthy Farms and Families, the organization behind the GE ban.
Prior to Election Night, Measure M was generally accepted by the county, finding opposition only by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. However, in mid-October, proponents saw big-name insecticide and herbicide companies like Bayer and Monsanto pour thousands of dollars into political action committees in an effort to sway voters against the ban.
Measure Y, the Sonoma County Library Maintenance, Restoration and Enhancement Act passed with 71.3 percent. Measure Y will add a one-eighth of 1 percent transactions and use tax to help supplement existing funding for library operations. The transaction tax will apply to all retailers in the county for all gross receipts from the sale of tangible personal property sold.
The library’s victory comes two years after similar tax measure failed by two points in the 2014 election. With its passage, Measure Y will provide funding for supporting library collections, educational programs and classes for school-age and pre-school children, improving access to local libraries and maintaining library collections and maintaining aging library facilities. Specific expenditure items include providing computer labs and WiFi at all libraries, restoring and enhancing library hours, expanding senior and disabled services and maintaining children’s classes and services.
The measure will require Brett Lear, the current director for the Sonoma County Libraries, to submit an annual report of the amount of funds collected and the status of projects funded by tax revenue. The library commission will also create an 11-member citizens oversight committee to review expenditures of the tax revenue on an annual basis.