So far, Arbuckle, Swarthout, Howard Levine and Jim Firth are candidates or expected candidates for the three slots. But more candidates are expected to pull nomination packets up until Friday’s deadline.
The races are going to be hard fought, with lots of grassroots campaigning: Akin to Terry Lamphier vs. John Spencer for District 3 Supervisor. It will be interesting to track the campaign donors too.
Some long-simmering political divisiveness at City Hall, most recently revealed in City Administrator Dan Holler’s possible departure, is a factor in the City Council races.
Holler, a seasoned administrator who has helped guide a painful downsizing and dealt with land-use disputes, labor concessions, small-town politics and more, notified City Council via an email that he was a finalist for county manager job in Nevada.
Holler succeeded Gene Haroldson as City Administrator.
He applied for the Churchill County, Nev., job on July 8; he received an annual performance review more recently.
In his application, Holler’s references were outgoing Council Member Yolanda Cookson, former Council Member Chauncey Poston and former Community Development Director Joe Heckle, among others – some of whom do not always tow the “old guard” political line in Grass Valley.
Much of it is a rigid pro-development, anti-regulation mindset that led to a lawsuit against the County over an airport land-use plan, as well as an impotent historic preservation ordinance for the downtown. The lawsuit has since been settled, and the historic preservation ordinance is up for tweaking (but nothing more).
Signs of political friction have surfaced on City Council in recent years. In one of the more startling developments, Dan Miller was elected Vice Mayor by a in 4-1 vote though Cookson was in line for the position. (Cookson was dissenting vote). She has chosen not to run for re-election.
The City is at a crossroads, as I have reported before, with differing perspectives about how to tackle its financial problems – stemming from the economic downturn, the closure of Weaver Auto and axing of redevelopment agencies.
The political divisiveness is ill timed too: It could make it harder for the city to win enough votes for a sales tax increase to fund core services.
Besides Holler, City Police Chief John Foster also had been job hunting in Oregon, as reported previously.
My own observation for years has been that the Grass Valley “old political guard” is too intolerant of political diversity. The prior management of The Union newspaper has been a steadfast supporter too, though that guard has changed.
I’ve always felt that more diversity of opinion could help Grass Valley, which has to “feed the beast” of annexation and is too dependent on the boom-and-bust cycles of construction and real estate.
It’s not like Grass Valley is ever going to become Berkeley, but that fear seems to persist. As a result, change comes slowly – if at all.
The County board of supervisors, by contrast, seems to have struck a balance of political diversity. The Nevada City Council has more balance than in the past too.
Local politics is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is most effective when the porridge is “Aah, just right,” not too hot or too cold.