Same as the Old Bosses
No surprises in Carmel elections.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
A young meteorologist threatened to rain on incumbent council members’ parade, a Dogman went missing and Sue McCloud made do without bagpipes. But when election officials had finished tallying Tuesday’s ballots by hand, the Carmel election belonged to three-time Mayor McCloud and councilmembers Gerard Rose and Paula Hazdovac.
To most, there was a 100 percent chance of incumbent reign. In one of two Monterey County cities wholly controlled by Republicans, any chance of an upset was viewed as a longshot. The incumbent candidates, their supporters, journalists and city staff milled about City Hall in an abiding atmosphere of resigned amusement.
Yet, as Councilman Mike Cunningham said while lounging coolly against the wall, “If feels like we’re just going through the motions, but you never know. That’s why I’m here.”
A 32-year-old weatherman, Ryan Walbrun seemed to have the best chance at catching lightning in a bottle against Rose and Hazdovac. And indeed, early results gave the April 11 proceedings at Carmel City Hall a welcome jolt of electricity when officials announced that Walbrun had received 446 votes compared to Rose’s 600 and Hazdovac’ 629.
Walbrun, who attended with his family and a cadre of supporters, works for the National Weather Service and decided to run when he read a Carmel Pine Cone article that reported Rose and Hazdovac would be running unopposed.
“I’ve always followed current events and I just kind of felt I had a civic duty to the democratic process,” he said, while waiting for the final tallies to be read.
Walbrun says he spent a little over $1,000 on his campaign and got the word out door to door, standing in front of the post office, through mailers and at the March 23 Carmel Residents Association debate.
By the time absentee ballots were counted, it was clear that McCloud would be returning to the mayor’s office. She received 690 votes while her challenger, Dogman McBill, received 230. Born William Clement Winfield II, McBill, a songwriter and guitarist, is best known for once keeping 18 dogs in his purple bus.
As the final ballots were tallied by hand, McCloud, Rose and Hazdovac floated gently about the room with a benign confidence while Walbrun and his supporters stood clustered in the back of the room.
When it was finally time for the results to be announced, the incumbents hustled to the front of the room for a photo op, apparently convinced of victory before the number could even be read. McCloud finished with 962 votes and McBill finished with 335. Gerard Rose and Paula Hazdovac won with final counts of 829 and 855 respectively and Walbrun received 658 votes.
After the results were in, the incumbents congratulated each other. “OK, let’s go drink!” said Rose, while Hazdovac rubbed her hands together. Walbrun made a point of wading through the crowd to shake hands with the incumbents.
Before the party started, Rose sounded circumspect about the relatively close race. “It’s pretty typical for a Carmel election,” he said. “We’re proud of our differing views. Walbrun put on a spirited campaign and I hope he remains active in the political process.”