Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia makes a bold bid for state Assembly.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Pacific Grove mayor Carmelita Garcia is fed up with Sacramento. So she’s making a play for Sacramento.
Garcia launched her candidacy for the 29th state Assembly District on Facebook, as the Weekly reported online Nov. 23.
“I care passionately about this community and the district as a whole,” says Garcia, who lists education and jobs among her top priorities. “I want to get Sacramento’s hands out of our pocket, and advocate for local control.”
Garcia, a paralegal by profession, has competition in Mark Stone, chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and a California Coastal Commissioner.
The newly redrawn 29th District encompasses most of the 27th District currently represented by Bill Monning (D-Carmel), excluding Big Sur.
Monning, a two-term assemblyman, is taking on Sen. Sam Blakeslee for the 17th Senate District in 2012. He endorsed Stone as his Assembly successor before Garcia’s announcement. “I like Carmelita a lot,” Monning says. “I’m not going to withdraw my endorsement of Mark.”
Garcia hasn’t lined up any endorsements yet, but she’s made allies in P.G. by leading the city into more stable fiscal conditions. She may have a harder time winning over eco-minded voters in Santa Cruz County, where Stone has created a commission on the environment, led climate-change planning and pushed through a plastic bag ban.
Garcia notes that under her watch, P.G. has made progress in dealing with stormwater runoff, creating an urban forest management plan and getting its first public green vehicle.
Both Garcia and Stone are Democrats, but they could still face off in November: Under new state election laws, the top two vote-getters in the June 2012 primary, regardless of party affiliation, will continue to the general election.
Garcia’s announcement shifts the political sands in P.G. as well. If she makes it past the June primary, she won’t run for P.G. mayor in November. Already two city councilmen have signaled their hopes of succeeding her.
Ken Cuneo, who supports Garcia for Assembly, says he’ll run for mayor if she doesn’t seek re-election. Dan Miller is also seeking the city’s top post.
Councilman Bill Kampe, who lost the P.G. mayoral appointment in a coin toss to Garcia after former Mayor Dan Cort resigned in 2009, says he’s not interested in running for mayor or even a second council term.
“When I started [on the council in 2008],” he says, “I promised my wife it would be a four-year adventure.”