Calcagno and Lutes wait out the vote on election night.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
There isn’t a visible drunk at Tuesday’s District 2 Supervisorial candidates’ victory parties. There isn’t a clear victory, either.
When party-goers go home, late on June 6, incumbent County Supervisor Lou Calcagno leads the race by 874 votes. A few hours later, the county Election Department posts the final vote count of the night: Calcagno’s got 4,194 votes (55.62 percent) compared to Salinas City Councilwoman Jyl Lutes 3,320 votes (44.03 percent). Election officials expect about 12,500 District 2 ballots, however, so the count is short. Calcagno is unwilling to declare victory.
“It’s too early,” he says at around 10:15pm, although he voices optimism. “We’re getting results from North Salinas precincts and we held our own with North Salinas, which is a good sign.”
Later in the night, Lutes agrees that it’s still too close to call. “I still feel very positive,” she says. “Regardless of the outcome, it’s a victory in that whoever wins has to be accountable. If this had been a landslide victory, then he [Calcagno] could say, ‘Hey, I had a mandate.’ Nearly 50 percent of the people so far haven’t voted for him. For a very powerful incumbent, who spent a large amount of money on his campaign, I think that’s an indictment of his record. I still think I’ve got a good chance.”
Both candidates describe themselves as environmentalists, yet sprawl has been the big issue of this race. Calcagno’s considerable war chest came from large landowners, farmers and pro-development types, while Lutes’ biggest checks came from conservationists who support the General Plan Initiative and opposed the huge Rancho San Juan development.
Lutes, a staunch supporter of city-centered growth, endorsed the anti-sprawl initiative. Calcagno, on the other hand, says some rural development is necessary to protect prime farm land.
Naturally, on Tuesday night, party-goers in Salinas (at Lutes’ party) and Castroville (at Calcagno’s) say their respective candidate had the right idea about how and where Monterey County should grow.
“Even people who like Lou and have supported him in the past are at the end of their rope with him,” says Jane Parker, who is spending her night at Champions Grill at the Twin Creeks Golf Course, Lutes’ party headquarters. Parker is the co-president of the Democratic Club of the Monterey Peninsula, who lost a supervisorial seat to Jerry Smith in 2004 and plans to challenge him again in two years. “Lou’s not doing the public’s business. He’s not representing the interest of regular people. He’s making deals with developers and special interests.”
At La Scuola Ristorante in Castroville, Calcagno’s regular election-night haunt, his supporters had a different take on the supervisor’s record.
Maria Giuriato, who sits on the Salinas City Council with Lutes but endorsed Calcagno, says he’s the one to lead the county.
“In Salinas, voters are concerned about health care, social services, affordable housing,” Giuriato says. “Lou has worked on health care, he supported Measure Q [the failed sales tax to support Natividad Medical Center], he helped build affordable housing and get land for CHISPA. Voters know what Lou’s done. But what is Jyl going to do?”
In recent days, this race has attracted a lot of attention: both camps have decried “negative campaigning,” and the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee called a Calcagno mailer “flagrantly misleading.”
The mailer shows photos of Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards and reads, “Monterey County Democrats Endorse for Reelection Lou Calcagno for Supervisor District 2.” The Central Committee endorsed Lutes.
But, says Giuriato, a Democrat, the supervisorial race is a nonpartisan race.
“We have to work together,” she says, repeating something that she says state Sen. Jackie Speier, a candidate for lieutenant governor, told her when Speier was in Salinas over the weekend. “You have to cross party lines or you’re not going to get anything done.”
It seems a little more cross-the-political-aisle drinking would help, too.