More ballots still need to be counted, but here’s the latest from the June primary in western Nevada County. It points to a “new age” of political involvement, challenging the conservative “old guard” political structure. It is driven by ideology but also contempt for political bullying, intolerance and personal attacks.
It is the “democracy in our towns” theme we have been writing about on this blog since 2009. Here’s a rundown:
•Democrat Heidi Hall is leading Duane Strawser for the District 1 Supervisor race.
Duane hurt himself by hitching his wagon to the western Nevada County’s hard-right and “good old boys” politics, as this blog has reported all along. After all, he was a registered Democrat and independent minded but “who knew?” given the political operatives who surfaced in his campaign.
The hard-right and the “good old boys” is an insular, tight-knit bunch, and cannot see the bigger picture of our area’s demographics. The political “advisors,” such as the Nevada County Contractors’ PAC, on the right don’t see it either.
They also underestimate the collateral damage of the hard-right personal attacks. It has reached a crescendo. Duane would have been better off to “go it alone.”
If Heidi Hall prevails, and I expect that she will, the progressives will have 2 out of the five votes, up from one. And they will be looking for a majority in the next election cycle.
Whether the voters agree with her ideology or not, I’m confident Heidi will be thoughtful and show sound logic in her decision making, just as Richard Anderson has or Jennifer Montgomery has in Placer County. I enjoy my conversations with Richard, and we publicly supported Jennifer. I also am glad that Heidi is a graduate of Pomona College, a top-notch school.
•Measure W is losing
We do not use marijuana. We also have a teenage son in school, where marijuana use is a problem. Having said that we have friends who see the value of medical marijuana. The background of our friends the Hempels, and their twin daughters Addi and Cassi, is here.
Regardless of the final outcome on this measure, the Yes on W campaign did not handle itself well. Anti-marijuana activist Don “Madame Pantsuits” Bessee was a terrible “spokesman,” and the Sheriff came across as intolerant and inflexible.
This put off middle of the road voters, just as the hard-right did with Duane’s campaign.
The BOS now is going to have a real “hot potato” of an issue on its hands. If it ignores the results of the vote, the opposition will get louder. It needs new spokespeople to win more support. And it needs to dump Bessee, who didn’t fare well in a Republican Central Committee race either.
This group totally misread the veracity of the opposition. It was based on Measure S’s sweeping defeat in the last election cycle when the voter turnout was lower.
•Voter turnout was “extremely high,” according to the Elections Office.
This is a credit to the local League of Women Voters and collaboration among a number of groups, including this blog. (The League has thanked us for this).
The higher voter turnout helped Heidi Hall and the “No on W” campaign. If this trend can be sustained, it means the local Democrats are catching up the the local Republicans when it comes to political organizing — long a lopsided situation.
•Measure Y in Nevada City is losing
Just as people are tired of some of the hard-right’s divisive political tactics, voters also are worn out with the supporters of Laurie Oberholtzer and her “Friends of Nevada City.” In this election cycle, it was manifested in the AirBnB measure.
I think Paul Matson has been sincere in his support for the “R1” neighborhoods, but the perception of the “Friends of Nevada City” group and their political tactics is negative.
In addition, people see the value in renting out units to supplement their income. We don’t have a strong enough local economy to avoid that. Kathy Dotson, a sign of youthful force in Nevada City, showed real firepower, and I congratulate her.
•Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in our County, and Donald Trump won handily on the Republican side. This shows we remain a diverse — and polarized — bunch. Trump embodies the staunchly conservative “angry, white male” contingent in our towns (think George Rebane, a self-important hard-right activist who likes to “audit” the Union’s op-ed page; or Todd Juvinall, who planted lies about Heidi Hall, or the global-warming deniers et al.)
In other results, incumbent Ed Scofield won handily. No surprise there. Ed is popular in his district.
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