By a 3-1 vote, the City of Grass Valley City Council appointed Ben Aguilar, who is tied to the city’s “old guard” political circle, to be its fifth member over relative newcomer Jerri Glover. Ben, who did not even run for City Council in an election, fills the vacant seat left by Terry Lamphier’s resignation.
The decision assures a 5-0 vote in favor of major development in Grass Valley, although — at least for all I know — Jerri would have supported projects such as the proposed Loma Rica housing project and the Dorsey Drive shopping center. She was an outsider, however, with an independent voice.
With the vote, the Nevada County Contractors Association PAC is ruling the roost in Grass Valley politics, as it has since Dan Miller defeated Lamphier for supervisor last fall, and The Union’s “new” management is firmly behind them. In short, it’s a return to the pre-Great Recession era and a rebuke of the “democracy of a small town” mindset.
Whether it is a good economic development strategy for Grass Valley, or a provincial one influenced by cronyism, remains to be seen. Grass Valley faces many economic challenges, and attracting newcomers ranks at the top of the list.
Ben Aguilar did not even run for City Council, but Jerri Glover did. Jerri finished third behind Jason Fouyer and Terry Lamphier. At a previous meeting, the Council decided to interview candidates. Ben has been an appointed Grass Valley planning commissioner. The interviews of candidates are here. (Click “video” on the February 10 meeting).
Glover had been incoming president of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce but quietly resigned her post. The Chamber’s co-CEO is Keith Davies, who was appointed to the post. He is close friends with Miller and longtime resident and Grass Valley politico Patti Ingram — and has been since high school. The Ingram family used to own The Union newspaper and still holds sway.
Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout and Howard Levine all voted for Ben, while Mayor Jason Fouyer voted for Jerri. Fouyer was the only Council member who explained his rationale for his vote. The others, except for a brief comment from Jan Arbuckle, did not explain why they voted for Ben.
In informal queries from residents, Jan contended that she got more positive votes from Ben but did not identify them.
Young Aguilar has ties to the “old guard’ political circle in Grass Valley and the construction trade. Jerri is a relative newcomer, from Texas, who has embraced a wide spectrum of the electorate — from staunch conservatives to liberals.
While seemingly illogical, last night’s vote shouldn’t be a surprise to local political pundits. The “long timers” in Grass Valley dominate compared with the “new faces,” as I’ve written previously. And most “new faces” only serve one term.
Grass Valley City Council election winners since 1992
2012 — Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout, Howard Levine
2010 — Jason Fouyer, Dan Miller
2008 — Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout, Yolanda Cookson
2006 — Dan Miller, Chauncey Poston
2004 — Dean Williams, Lisa Swarthout, Mark Johnson
2002 — Patti Ingram, Gerard Tassone
2000 — Steve Enos, Dee Mautino, Linda Stevens
1998 — Gerard Tassone, Patti Ingram
1996 — Bill Hullender, Linda Stevens, John Taylor
1994 — Gerard Tassone, Mark Johnson
1992 — Dee Mautino, Dan Miller, Bill Hullender
Last five elections (2004 to 2012) — 13 winners; (Dean Williams, Jan Arbuckle x 2, Yolanda Cookson for 4 “new” — only about 30 percent)
Last five elections – 3 new faces: Dean Williams resigned, Arbuckle appointed and elected twice, Cookson for 1 term
Eleven elections since 1992 – 22 candidates elected. Of that, six of them (Linda Stevens, 1 term and partial term appointed), Taylor (1 term), Enos (1 term), Williams (3 years and resigned), Arbuckle (appointed and 2 elections), Cookson (1 term) had lived in Grass Valley for 10 years or less.
The other 16 (about 73 percent) are longtime residents (20 or more years….some 40 or more years)
New faces: Most only served 1 term. Long timers have served 2 or more terms.
We had written at yearend, “Can Grass Valley turn over a new leaf politically”? While we will watch it unfold, the answer appears to be “No.”
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”