Grins of victory, groans of defeat at two election night gatherings.
Thursday, March 7, 2002
The first yells from the Calcagno camp went up about 8:40 Tuesday night. Absentee ballots were in, and Lou Calcagno was winning the race for District 2 Supervisor. Carol Lacy trailed. Calcagno was on his way to becoming North County''s next supervisor.
Before the TV screen flashed to its next election update, the Calcagno crowd was on its feet cheering, mouths full of fried artichoke hearts and Mondavi Chardonnay--grapes grown in the Salinas Valley, of course. As Calcagno mingled, maneuvering through the maze of TVs and white tablecloths at La Scuola Italian restaurant in Castroville, he was stopped by supporters from Greenfield to Prunedale.
Calcagno didn''t know it yet, but he would end up winning the race by more than 3,000 votes.
"It means we''re going to continue to preserve ag land, we''re going to continue to work to protect the environment and we''re going to work to build affordable housing," Calcagno said. "It means we''re going to have to do a lot of consensus building."
If the crowd gathered on Tuesday night is any indication, Calcagno has already mastered the latter.
"Lou''s a consensus builder," says Salinas attorney Blanca Zarazua, who chairs the Monterey County Hispanic Chamber of Congress. "He''s a very fair man."
Indeed, Calcagno''s victory celebration saw Latino activists breaking bread with white businessmen, city council members from South County to Salinas huddled together over cold cuts and veggies, and environmentalists talking current events with lumberyard owners.
"He knows how to put a coalition together to get something done," said Freeman Lumber Company''s Dave Freeman. Adds brother Wayne Freeman, "We''re really good friends with Carol [Lacy] too. Both candidates are good."
Dave finishes the thought: "But Lou has the experience to be able to put together a coalition to act and get something done. It''s hard to get people to work together in politics. He just has a little more experience."
Once, just once, were the cheers for Measure A louder than the cheers for the Lakers at Knuckles sports bar in Monterey.
Los Angeles was playing New Jersey and the game owned the biggest screen among many screens in the barroom at the Hyatt. On the far side of the room sat a dozen volunteers who''d worked to pass a $158 million bond to repair the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District''s shamefully derelict classrooms.
Now the volunteers--parents and some older folks who called themselves the Alliance for Better Community Schools--were waiting for the results, watching returns come in on television, drinking dark beer, wine and cocktails.
Earlier in the night, four minutes after the polls closed at 8pm, with just absentee ballots counted, the tally was 56.3 percent against the bond and 43.6 percent for it. The course would never change, although for a brief interlude it seemed as if it did. Suddenly at 9:40 the score flipped to 56 percent for the bond and 44 percent against. The volunteers erupted with whoops of joy.
"I''m so surprised. I''m so happy," exclaimed Bruce Delgado, a Marina city councilman who''d spent the day telephonically prodding voters into the polls. "We were just talking about how many mistakes we''d made."
Hopeful news was quickly crushed. It must have been a typo at the TV station someone says. There''s no way the score could have reversed in such an exact fashion.
Bond skeptics were feet away. A bartender and the cocktail waitresses chatted about it on and off. The school district''s fiscal sloppiness had hurt. The waitresses, some with school-age children, know how bad the facilities are, but complained about how poorly the schools are run. Just that night, the board of trustees had voted to close five schools to try to mend a $6.3 million budget hole.
The bond lost by the same percentages it showed when the polls closed, with a final tally of 6,931 against and 5,315 in favor.
The bond''s most vocal opponent, a hospitality marketer named Rick Heuer, had complained that the bond is just too large and that he''d be willing to campaign for a $50 million bond.
With defeat for the school repair measure certain, Heuer said by telephone, that he vows to be at the next school board meeting (even though his kids go to a private school) with a case for a smaller measure.
"He can do it on his own," said Dave Jones, volunteer and father of two kids in Monterey schools.