Swapping Sacramento for Salinas
Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia retools her ambitions for higher office.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Hers was one of those candidacies everyone seemed to know about, but few could confirm – until Jan. 17, when Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia announced she’s dropping out of the 29th Assembly District race to run for District 5 County Supervisor.
On Jan. 6, Garcia denied rumors of her supervisorial ambitions. But paperwork filed six days later with the Monterey County Elections Department confirmed Garcia was taking a run at the seat for District 5, which includes Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Highway 68, Las Palmas and Big Sur.
So far, Garcia and Potter are the only clear contenders. A year ago, Carmel Valley radio host Scott Dick filed paperwork allowing him to begin fundraising for the District 5 race, but Dick now tells the Weekly he probably won’t run.
Candidates who file by March 9 will face off on the June 5 ballot. Anyone who scores more than 50 percent of the vote wins the race; if no one does, the top two square off in November.
Despite widely circulated rumors of Garcia’s candidacy, neither she nor campaign manager Teri Short would confirm them before the Jan. 17 press release. Short does, however, describe Garcia’s demeanor while campaigning for state Assembly in Santa Cruz.
“She wants to be involved with her community. She wants to know the real issues that affect people’s lives,” Short says. “She doesn’t want to play these political games. She doesn’t want to be partisan.”
What some may view as political naivete may help explain Garcia’s decision to drop her Assembly bid. As of mid-January, she hadn’t scored any major endorsements in her challenge to Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mark Stone.
According to the campaign website FriendsOfMarkStone.org, Stone’s 250-plus endorsements include 27th District Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and 28th District Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville.
“I wish her well,” Stone says. “I’m sure there will be other [challengers].”
Garcia’s press release, however, suggests the switch stems from a love of her hometown. “I am stepping out of the Assembly race because I believe it is important for me to remain in Monterey County and help find solutions to our problems,” she states. “While campaigning for the Assembly seat, I heard from many people and community organizations the desire for me to remain here.”
The flip of a coin after former P.G. Mayor Dan Cort stepped down in 2009 promoted Garcia from city councilwoman to mayor. She was unopposed in her 2010 re-election.
Water supply is likely to be a hot topic in Garcia’s fight against incumbent Supervisor Dave Potter, especially given California American Water’s Jan. 17 announcement that it was withdrawing its support for the Regional Desalination Project. (See story, p. 12.)
Potter was an early and strong supporter of the Regional Project, while Garcia is part of an effort by six Monterey Peninsula mayors to shift more control to the Cal Am ratepayers.
“Certainly I’d look forward to the opportunity to discuss regional issues with her,” Potter says. “It’s the diversity of issues and opinions that make the 5th District unique.”