home | metro santa cruz index | currents
By Santa Cruz Weekly Staff
Capitola City Council
Capitola has nearly built out its tourist, shopping and residential zones, so ideological battles are few and practical matters—especially financial and planning issues—dominate. Incumbent Bob Begun, who served as city treasurer, has been a sterling enforcer of financial responsibility. Past Planning Commissioner and Councilmember Michael Termini brings a mastery of planning and housing to the rotunda. Incumbent Sam Storey, defender of social services, and past Councilmember Stephanie Harlan, dedicated to preserving mobile home parks, are also strong public servants. But Begun and Termini are our top recommendations.
Santa Cruz City Council
Eight candidates are competing for three open seats on the Santa Cruz City Council in an election that could well see a seismic shift toward the center for a body long dominated by progressives. Termed-out are the left-leaning Mike Rotkin and Cynthia Mathews; up for re-election is pragmatic incumbent Lynn Robinson. Leading the field are Robinson; business-friendly moderate Dave Terrazas, who came within 45 votes of unseating Tony Madrigal in 2008; and real estate agent Hilary Bryant, another moderate. Running from the left are Capitola housing and redevelopment manager David Foster, retired firefighter Ron Pomerantz and grant writer Steve Pleich. Republican insurance executive Kevin Moon and executive assistant Gus Ceballos round out the field.
Several candidates several stand out from this generally strong field. Hilary Bryant is a smart straight shooter with a strong community orientation complementing a pro-business platform. Lynn Robinson has proven herself a conscientious member of the council who deserves another term. David Foster's mastery of the details of governance, coupled with progressive values and a dose of pragmatism (unlike many lefties, he supported a Westside conference center), make him a strong choice. Santa Cruz needs focused, innovative leadership. Bryant, Foster and Robinson will provide that.
Lompico Water District
Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the board of directors of this small but troubled water district, which this year has been beset by embezzlement and a grand jury report detailing a history of gross mismanagement. The current board has responded by exploring a merger with the larger, healthier San Lorenzo Valley Water District—a smart move if it can be done, though Lompico would first have to repair its system to the tune of $2.3 million. Meanwhile, the very notion of merging has some independent-minded mountain folk rallying around the battle cry of "local control"—even though that hasn't exactly worked out for Lompico.
Of the four candidates, Santa Cruz Weekly is endorsing one: incumbent Rob Hansel, the only candidate to come out clearly in favor of pursuing the merger. As a member of the current board, which has responded well to the crisis, Hansel has the advantage of being up to speed on efforts to fix the system's leaky tanks and pipes. Candidate Sean Wharton, who has served on previous boards, takes no position on the merger and says he would first pursue critical repairs that he says can be made without a rate increase. Candidate Shannar Abraham, who has sat on two previous boards, says establishing financial stability is his chief concern. Candidate Sherwin Gott is dead-set against a merger and proposes a cheaper slate of repairs. It's a bold move, but a secure water supply in an era of climate change and fire hazard is too important to gamble with.
Measure H is being touted as a way to fund extra police officers, which many residents and business owners have been demanding ever since gang violence began intensifying on the Westside. But faced with a 1.5 percent increase in the utility tax (from 7 to 8.5 percent), which would add $5-$6 a month to the average household's financial burden, some are now balking. No doubt that's due in part to public outrage over police and firefighter pensions. Others oppose all regressive taxes, which this, admittedly, is—though an exemption for seniors and low-income folks mitigates that problem.
But to oppose Measure H on these grounds is to ignore some key facts. First, these aren't extra police officers at all—they're eight positions lost through attrition that are finally being refunded. Similarly, Measure H doesn't bring in extra revenue, either; rather, its estimated $1.6 million a year will backfill a hole created when the 911 emergency service tax sunsetted in the summer of 2008 (and a poorly timed August election sabotaged its chances for reinstatement). This is not about a surplus so fat cats can go on a spree. At best, Measure H will restore city revenues to a little below normal. As a well-crafted, necessary mechanism designed to offset the very worst effects of the recession, it deserves a "yes" vote.
Send letters to the editor here.