The New Jerry
One vote marks a new direction for Supervisor Smith.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Supervisor Jerry Smith seems to be thinking strategically these days. After spending his term earning a reputation as a big developer’s best friend, Smith has adopted a kinder, gentler, more democratic facade in the last month—just in time to start campaigning for his reelection bid in 2008.
This is the Supervisor who, in March 2005, made a motion to ditch the ongoing General Plan Update process and, instead, adopt a plan written by the Refinement Group—the same crowd that pumped thousands of dollars into Smith’s campaign.
On Feb. 16, Smith announced his candidacy at the National Steinbeck Center with a slew of other local electeds and Refinement Group members by his side. He’s won the endorsement of Supervisors Fernando Armenta, Lou Calcagno and Simón Salinas, as well as former Supes Butch Lindley and Edith Johnsen, and Sheriff Mike Kanalakis. (Supervisor Dave Potter was notably absent from the kick-off and from the endorsement list.)
Smith’s 2004 opponent, Jane Parker, who lost the District 3 seat by about 200 votes, showed up for the announcement. From the looks of things, Smith is doing a bit of policy backpedaling to pick off some of Parker’s votes this go-round.
In Smith’s 2004 campaign, he said he opposed Rancho San Juan. In late 2005, Smith and the majority of the Supervisors voted to approve Butterfly Village, the first piece in the larger Rancho San Juan project. The following day, the public overwhelmingly voted no on RSJ.
Then, in March 2006, Smith voted to take Measure C off the ballot—grassroots groups had collected some 15,000 signatures to stop Butterfly Village. Also in 2006, Smith, a vocal opponent of the anti-sprawl General Plan Initiative, voted against putting the initiative on the ballot.
Parker opposed RSJ and supported Measure C from the start. She has been actively campaigning for the initiative since its inception.
In October 2006, Smith, along with other Local Agency Formation Commissioners, denied Carmel Valley residents a chance to vote on incorporation.
But then, last month, Smith apparently shifted his politics. On Jan. 3, he and the other Supes (Potter was the lone no vote) approved GPU 4. They also voted to place it and the competing initiative on the June ballot. Just weeks later Calcagno and Smith proposed a moratorium on all new projects requiring General Plan amendments until voters get a chance to weigh in on the competing plans. “We’re very serious,” Smith said, “about allowing people to vote on the General Plan.”
He’s also serious about winning another term in office.