Vote for Oaks
Jane Parker sweeps District 4 re-election on the tide of Whispering Oaks reversal.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
With popcorn and toy vending machines glowing behind her, Jane Parker Chief of Staff Kristi Markey called about 50 supporters to attention with a mighty whistle. Standing on a chair at Me-N-Ed’s pizza in Seaside, she announced preliminary election results on Election Night, June 5: Fifty-six percent for incumbent District 4 County Supervisor Parker, 44 percent for challenger Byrl Smith. Parker’s spirited team chanted, “Let’s go Jane!”
Parker took to the chair to thank supporters and promptly passed off her congratulatory flowers to her campaign manager and niece, Erica Parker. With entertainment from bluegrass band Tree Top Trio, the dimly lit pizzeria felt more like a family reunion than a formal political event.
For that, voters had only to go about 20 feet across the sidewalk to a vacant office building on Fremont Boulevard, where Smith and supporters had set up balloons, tablecloths, and a buffet of sandwiches and roasted vegetables.
It was a more formal event, with a projection of election results cast on a bare white wall in the unfinished space with exposed ceiling beams, wires and ladders. About 20 minutes after Parker gave her acceptance speech, Smith’s campaign manager, Rick Taylor of L.A.-based Dakota Communications, said it was too early to concede.
But on Wednesday morning, the semi-official results showed Parker holding her 12-point lead.
“No sad faces here tonight,” Smith told supporters. “We’re all winners. We’ve run a very spirited campaign. Tonight is a happy night.”
“I’VE HAD A PRETTY GOOD SENSE I’M IN TOUCH WITH THE PULSE OF THE COMMUNITY.”
She urged supporters to stick around to eat and celebrate, but they trickled out soon after.
Next door, Parker supporters continued to pour in, including retired CSU, Monterey Bay health education professor JoAnn Cannon. She’d never before gotten involved in local politics, but had hosted an event for Parker at her home. “I didn’t know much about what the hell a supervisor did,” Cannon says.
But once she got wind of the proposed Whispering Oaks business park and MST bus yard on the former Fort Ord – which Parker took an early stand against before popular opinion shifted the Board of Supervisors majority against the site – Cannon decided to volunteer.
Parker says she’s excited to see so many new activists among established organizers and local politicos. “It’s just really affirming,” Parker says. “I’ve had a pretty good sense I’m in touch with the pulse of the community.”
State officials joined Parker’s pizza party too. Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mark Stone each broke from their own victory parties (Monning handily won the primary for state Senate, and Stone for Monning’s Assembly seat) to pop into Parker’s.
If Stone secures his win in November, he’ll leave vacant a California Coastal Commission seat formerly occupied by District 5 County Supervisor Dave Potter. The appointee will be selected by the Assembly speaker – most likely at Stone’s recommendation.
“I would definitely consider Jane,” Stone says.
An open application process will leave room for others to apply, he adds, his primary criteria being land-use experience and a balance between growth and environmental concerns.
Parker says she hasn’t given much thought to the Coastal Commission, but would be happy to fill Stone’s seat. For now, she’s occupied with continuing her work as county supervisor; she left her own party early in anticipation of county budget hearings scheduled to begin June 6.