New Salinas Valley Memorial board members join the dais at a turbulent time.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
It’s not just Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System that’s been bleeding money lately. The one contested election for a new seat on the hospital board logged more than $35,000 in campaign contributions – almost all from a new political action committee formed by SVMH doctors.
Winner Rafael Garcia clobbered his opponent, Orly Jimenez, by nearly a two-to-one margin. He also wildly out-funded him, about five to one. Every penny of Garcia’s $30,000 came from the recently formed Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Physician PAC.
And of the nearly $25,000 they spent on Garcia’s campaign, at least a quarter went to campaign manager David Serena, and his daughter and granddaughter.
As a member of “The Coalition,” a loose organization representing Latino interests in the Salinas Valley, Serena led the charge on hospital redistricting.
Serena laughs at critics’ claims that he benefitted from the contentious redistricting process. “Look at Romney: All his kids were involved in the campaign,” he says.
And after running Garcia’s failed 2010 bid for a seat on the Hartnell board, he was pleased to see such a good margin in this election. “If [the election] was at-large, we probably would not have gotten involved,” he says.
Jimenez raised $6,500, about two-thirds of it from the Salinas Valley Leadership Group PAC. “We tried,” he says. “I thought it was kind of a low-profile thing, but it’s not. It’s really overkill.”
Garcia and Victor Rey, Jr., who ran uncontested for another open seat, will be sworn in Dec. 20 – when the board is expected to make an offer to a new CEO.