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09.24.08

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Demanding Change

SEIU reacts to Sonoma County supe endorsements

By Maria L. Abadesco

The conservative and corporately owned press of Sonoma County has spoken once again, as the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's endorsements of Sharon Wright for the Board of Supervisors' third district seat and Efren Carrillo for the fifth district seat were issued on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008.

On Nov. 4, election day, Sonoma County voters will decide who among the stream of candidates in runoff races will become the third and fifth district supervisors. The progressive alliances in Sonoma County are working to make sure that Rue Furch and Shirlee Zane will be the respective supes, not Wright or Carrillo, voice-pieces for corporate-conservative Sonoma County.

Despite the national groundswell generated by the Obama campaign that "It's time for a change," Wright and Carrillo's candidacies offer more of the same-old, same-old big business and pro-development rhetoric. Wright, a former mayor of Santa Rosa, is endorsed by the North Coast Builders Exchange, a pro-development organization. Should we not forget, as voters, that it was under Wright's mayoral tenure that Santa Rosa's boundary lines grew exponentially? The issue of responsible and sustainable growth is on the minds of anyone who has concern about our open spaces, the environment and our resources. Wright would defy that mantra if elected.

On the other hand, her opponent Shirlee Zane, CEO of the Council on Aging, has been endorsed by the Sonoma County Conservation Action, the Sonoma County Democratic Party and Sonoma County's progressive organizations. The Democrats' confidence in Zane is reflected in their faith in "her ability to defend Sonoma County's greenbelts from developmental threats, and that she would fight to protect scarce water resources."

Of course, Zane, who has also stated her advocacy for the elderly, the poor and her defense of working families, has raised the eyebrows of the corporate conservative press. "We are troubled by Zane's strong ties and pledges to the SEIU (Service Employees International Union-Sonoma County Employees)" the Press Democrat wrote in its Sept. 14 argument against Zane. SEIU represents county workers whose daily jobs interface with the sectors in our community whom Zane has championed. Our SEIU Local 1021 workers are public-health nurses, child-support officers and in-home support service workers, to name a few.

SEIU and the progressive organizations in Sonoma County are not only public about our endorsement of Zane, but proud to support a vocal candidate who stands firm in her beliefs in making a change in Sonoma County for working families and the progressive community. No secrets here!

A long-term resident of the county, a working mother, an advocate for the homeless and a County Planning Commissioner, Rue Furch's record as a "steward of the land and community" is endless. SEIU stands with the Sierra Club, the Latino Democratic Club and the Coalition for a Better Sonoma County behind Furch's strong positions on the environment and her work with Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. She has proven her commitment to protect our agricultural land from urban sprawl and big developers.

Her opponent Efren Carrillo has no track record to speak of. While he promises that he "will make smart decisions to avoid urban sprawl," how is the voting public to interpret the endorsement he received from the North Coast Builders Exchange, the same pro-development group backing Wright? It is unfortunate that Carrillo is being promoted by bigger corporate interests than even he is willing to admit! His ties to building and development corporations will only hurt such fifth district towns as Guerneville, Monte Rio and Duncans Mills.

With that, on Nov. 4, voters will decide who among the stream of candidates represents "agents of change" for our community. Will it be Wright and Carrillo, voice-pieces for corporate-conservative Sonoma, or Shirlee Zane and Rue Furch, advocates for our land, our community and everyday working families of our county?

The current Board of Supervisors has demonstrated a lack of leadership, foresight and fiscal responsibility. Let's change that type of old-style politics with fresh, vibrant ideas that reflect our values and lifestyle.

SEIU Local 1021, representing 3,000 county workers and retirees, is currently in a tense dispute over retaining affordable healthcare for county workers and retirees. Union members have been working with an expired contract for more than two months. SEIU has been adamant in maintaining a healthcare package that is affordable for workers and fiscally responsible for taxpayers. It's time for a change, Sonoma County!

For more information or ways in which you can assist, go to www.seiusonoma.org.

Maria L. Abadesco is the community public relations coordinator for the SEIU Local 1021. Open Mic is now a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.


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