With the primaries settled, look for the gloves to come off in supes’ races.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
And then there were two. Twice.
The primaries are over, and voters have sent Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia packing in the District 5 county supervisor race, and did the same for Salinas City Councilman Sergio Sanchez in the District 1 supe contest. It means a whole new round of campaigning, finger-pointing, strategizing and allying on the way to November.
As of Wednesday morning, June 6, incumbent Fernando Armenta held the lead in District 1, with 44.4 percent of the vote, followed by Salinas City Councilman Tony Barrera with 30.6, and Sanchez with 24.9. In District 5, incumbent Dave Potter held a narrow lead of 42.9 percent over former supe Marc Del Piero, with 41.1 percent. Garcia came in with 15 percent. The results aren’t final until certified by the County Election Department.
Garcia could prove pivotal in what happens next for District 5.
That’s because an interesting thing has been happening between District 5 challengers, at least according to one of them. While squished into cozy Friar Tuck’s restaurant in Carmel with a largely graying group of around 25 supporters on Election Night, former District 1 supe-turned-District-5-candidate Del Piero explained.
“I didn’t know Carmelita Garcia before the campaign,” he said, “but now I have coffee with her pretty regularly.”
The inspiration for the opponents to play nice: Helping Garcia parse the city’s complicated water issues as P.G. seeks its own source. Del Piero, a water-rights attorney, once sat on the State Water Resources Quality Control Board.
A Garcia endorsement could play prominently in November; both Potter and Del Piero believe she’ll back them. “We’re both Democrats,” Potter says. (Del Piero’s a Republican.)
Both sides say the runoff will bring the other’s liabilities to light. Del Piero is eager to see what two state investigations of Potter (into an alleged improper gift and the failed regional desal plant) reveal. Potter’s awaiting more time to demonstrate his knowledge of the district after 16 years, and says Del Piero’s record – particularly on water infrastructure – conflicts with his promises.
In the Salinas-centric District 1 race, where only 3,029 people voted, Barrera’s victory over Sanchez is something of a stunner. Sanchez, who threw a joint Election Night party at the El Callejon nightclub in conjunction with his boss, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, only threw his hat into the ring in February. He raised about $46,000 in the run against former mentor Armenta, whose war-chest topped out at $123,000.
Barrera raised about $6,600 total, had his election party in the living room of his East Salinas home and won over voters by speaking his mind (with the occasional expletive thrown in).
“I didn’t have a whole lot of money and I had a lot of really good people helping me,” Barrera said Tuesday night. “If I am in a runoff. I have to do a better job of messaging.”