A man in the living room of Glenn Church’s Royal Oaks home asked, “Are you nervous, Glenn?” while awaiting the night’s first election results. “Anxious is the word,” Church replied. Moments later the first results were posted on the Monterey County Elections website. Church was far away in first place, with 33 percent of the vote out of six candidates for county supervisor to represent District 2 in North Monterey County.
He would need to end the June 7 primary with more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright, but with six candidates, the race is destined for a November runoff between the top two vote-getters. After early voting results came in around 8:30pm, it seemed clear the push for the two runoff slots was between Church and two other candidates: Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig, who held 22 percent of the vote, and Regina Gage, a board member of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, who held 20.2 percent.
“My goal was to break 30 percent to have a confident lead, and I’ve done it,” Church says several minutes later. He credits knocking on an estimated 7,000 doors in all, and in having a consistent message based on what he heard from voters frustrated with a lack of services from their county government. Church says he heard over and over again that people wanted a government that represents their interests. “That’s what resonated,” he says.
Craig, the only candidate of the bunch who has experience holding major elected office, was tending to some “healthy nervousness” as she nursed a less than two-point lead over Gage for the second-place slot. Her evening’s venue was the Crazy Horse Ranch on San Juan Grade in Salinas.
The room around Craig buzzed with local politicos. Incumbent District 2 Supervisor John Phillips, who is retiring at the end of his term, stood talking with Salinas City Councilmember Christie Cromeenes about water issues, while former Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin scanned the Craig-curated buffet that included artichoke dip, sliders and tacos. Laguna Seca General Manager John Narigi stopped by for some red wine after a day that included a 10-acre grass fire on the racetrack grounds, and District 1 Supervisor Luis Alejo dropped in after 9pm, coming from sheriff candidate Tina Nieto’s election night party.
Gage decided to host a private event and did not invite press. She was unresponsive on election night as results trickled in.
Earlier in the evening, ahead of the first results announcement, Steve Snodgrass was at 101 Wine Press in Prunedale, rattling off a list of thank-yous to a room filled with 60 of his closest supporters and the strong aroma of pulled pork and barbecue ribs. Snodgrass, who retired as CFO of local mining powerhouse Graniterock in April, says running for supervisor has long been a personal mandate. He says he would have always regretted not running, regardless of the results.
Many in attendance at 101 Wine Press were people Snodgrass only met in the last eight months, the aspect of the campaign that surprised him most. As one supporter was leaving, she thanked Snodgrass for “making us think about what’s important.”
“I didn't even know her six months ago,” Snodgrass says.