Old and New

As rain poured off and on in Pacific Grove on Election Day, council candidate Tina Rau made a decision to move the party from the yard of her small home to the shelter of a neighbor’s duplex parking garage across the street. A propane fire pit was set up, hot chocolate made, and folding tables were lined with food Rau had cooked and baked all day, including pork sliders, mac and cheese bites and cookies. One table was set aside for a computer to watch election results.

When the first results came in just after 8pm showing just over 40 percent of Pacific Grove votes counted, Rau was in fourth place with 1,704 votes, behind Debby Beck in third place, with 1,865 votes. The margin did not change in updated election results at midnight, showing Beck with a 204-vote lead over Rau.

Despite Beck far outspending her competitors – she spent over $14,000 as of Oct. 22, most of it money she loaned to herself – and having name recognition as a well-known real estate agent, she was trailing behind clinical research coordinator Lori McDonnell in second place. McDonnell spent just under $3,000 and earned 2,250 votes in early rounds of counting.

In first place was incumbent Joe Amelio, elected to the council in 2018, with 2,353 votes. “I’m elated,” he says, standing near a small gathering of supporters at Cafe Guarani, known for its housemade empanadas. Amelio credits his success with a steady campaign of knocking on doors and meeting as many voters as possible. He’s ready for another four years and advancing projects ahead that include seeing the American Tin Cannery hotel project built – currently under appeal to the California Coastal Commission – and adding more housing, among other initiatives.

If the results hold, Amelio will be joined by McDonnell, who campaigned on her opposition to the 225-room ATC hotel project as currently approved. McDonnell received support from residents against the ATC hotel, as well as those who appreciated her stance on protecting the forest in George Washington Park, a corner of which was recently proposed as a skatepark.

Also in first place on election night was Mayor Bill Peake, soundly defeating his challenger, Mike Wachs, with over 68 percent of the vote. Wachs is a newcomer to politics, and moved to Pacific Grove in 2020.

Pacific Grove voters said yes to three ballot measures: Measure M, an advisory vote on allowing retail cannabis, and Measure N, which would impose a sales tax of up to 6 percent on cannabis, with 61 and 71 percent yes votes, respectively. Rau was outspoken in her support of retail cannabis even before she was a candidate. Beck has been an ardent opponent; she led a referendum campaign to reverse an earlier council decision that sought to add one store back in 2020.

On Measure O, 54 percent of voters in early reporting said yes to shrinking the size of the city council from seven to five.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.