Unlike everybody else in the county with an opinion, I’m not going to look for major trends that can be taken from Tuesday’s local election results, or speculate on what it all means.
As Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill once observed, “All politics is local,” and this week’s local results showed again the winners are usually the candidates who do the best job of blocking and tackling. When viewed in that context, it’s no surprise that Ed Scofield easily won reelection, Heidi Hall topped Duane Strawser, and Measure W crashed in flames.
Scofield’s reelection was the most predictable race. He’s lived here all his life and knows practically everybody in a county where familiarity counts for a lot. He’s also the right person for the district he represents: A conservative in probably the most conservative area of the county.
His opponent, Richard Harris, entered the race at the last moment with no staff in place and little feel for the job–he was quoted in The Union as not knowing supervisor is a paid position. When you’re going to try to topple an entrenched incumbent like Scofield, you have to start campaigning for the job two years before election day, not hours before the filing deadline.
Hall raised more money than her opponent, and ran a high energy campaign while Strawser appeared to be going through the motions. Like her or not, Hall told you where she stands on the issues. It’s hard to know what Strawser stands for because he didn’t take a position on anything–he apparently tried to get elected by not annoying anybody.
Strawser also lacked the committed base of support that gave energy to Hall’s campaign. He was viewed as the conservative alternative to Hall, but local conservatives apparently couldn’t get too excited about a Democrat who announced he was going to re-register as “Decline to state.”
Hall clearly benefited by opposing Measure W, which went down in flames despite near unanimous support by the county political establishment. Supporters framed the issue of outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana as a quality-of-life issue, but opponents found plenty of reasons to oppose the measure: The supervisors’ strong-arm tactics in passing yet another “emergency” pot measure, the expense of putting the measure on the ballot, concern for property rights, the belief that prohibition doesn’t work, and the possibility that pot has some medicinal value.
The “no” forces were able to register a lot of people who never voted on Measure S, and they spent a lot money on advertising. The “yes” faction spent little money on the campaign, instead relying on Sheriff Keith Royal and his civilian sidekick, Don Bessee of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, to sell the measure. That clearly didn’t work.
The Board of Supervisors will still be dominated by conservatives, but there will be more 3-2 votes and issues may actually surface at the meetings that get voted down. We may even have public debate of the issues that come before the board.
I know that isn’t much, but around here it passes for progress.