Fresh Faces

Carla González won the District 1 seat in a hard-fought race, by a 90-vote margin over Scott Davis. A central campaign issue for her was public safety reform.

On Dec. 8, the city of Salinas will swear in a new mayor and three new councilmembers that represent a generational change for the council. With the incoming councilmembers ages 31, 27 and 21, the new electeds more closely resemble the city’s residents, where the median age is just over 30.

The elected officials face an unusual time, thanks to the impacts of Covid-19. Salinas faces a $19 million deficit for the next fiscal year, and is the epicenter of Covid-19 cases in Monterey County, with almost half of the county’s 15,245 confirmed cases as of Dec. 1.

In October, the unemployment rate in Monterey county was at 7.8 percent, almost 4-percent higher than last year’s projection. Residents are also facing, more than ever, food and housing insecurity due to Covid-19 and loss of employment.

Kimbley Craig was the only woman in the five-way race for mayor. Craig, who replaces late mayor Joe Gunter, becomes the city’s second woman mayor, the first being Anna Caballero. Craig earned over 36 percent of the vote.

Craig wants to address three main things when she takes office. The first: hiring a city manager, a position left vacant with the retirement of Ray Corpuz. “That will be a huge benefit if we can get that leadership in place,” she says. The second: “Really working on getting our numbers lower for Covid so we can get people back to work.” Last: stimulating the economy. “If we continue going down the path that we are going down now, we will end up having to cut services because we don’t have the revenue for it because the sales tax isn’t there.”

Carla González, an activist and educator, ousted incumbent Scott Davis. “What really set us apart is that I’m really pushing forward bold, progressive ideas and solutions,” González says.

She wants to change the way people think about crime prevention. For her, public safety translates to investing in the community and creating social programs: “What I want to do is to reorient our practices towards restoration and rehabilitation, working in partnership with experts and local groups.”

In District 4, Orlando Osornio will fill the council seat Gloria De La Rosa held for 22 years. He received 2,440 votes, or over 40 percent of the total in a three-way race.

Anthony Rocha will become the youngest council member in Salinas, representing District 6. Rocha obtained 4,799 votes and kept more than a 20 percent lead over Vanessa Michelle Robinson, his nearest opponent. He’s been a Salinas Union High School District trustee for two years and he ran for council because of the lack of representation of young Latinos.

Rocha says the majority in Salinas are young adults and families facing lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities. “We need diversity of opinions from age groups, ethnicities and backgrounds,” he says. “My age is a huge asset in terms of creating policies that help alleviate some of the stress of those communities.”

The new mayor and councilmembers will be sworn in on Dec. 8.

(3) comments

J. B.

Sadly, this publication, Monterey County Weekly, endorsed Scott Davis for Salinas City Council and not the obviously more qualified and genuine Carla Gonzalez, the candidate with “ bold, progressive ideas.” I’m glad Salinas voters know better than to listen to your advertising sham that repeatedly fails at providing quality journalism that people can trust.

John Adams

The Weekly had a different political view than my own as well. This doesn't make them untrustworthy. If we only consume news that affirms our biases, we're gonna have a bad time.

J. B.

If you trust publications that endorse candidates that they have previously written stories like this about that’s your choice, the majority of voters did not. You do you.

“How a high-speed car chase in Salinas went awry.

Jun 22, 2017

Monterey County Coast Weekly

Most Salinas residents would have only known about the mayhem of June 13 because it caused traffic jams at rush hour. But for police officers involved in an afternoon-long car chase and manhunt, it was a tense episode that ended with six police cars damaged and two officers firing their guns at 38-year-old Darryl Haley – who was shot four times, twice in the hand and twice in the shoulder.

The story of how at least one of those cars was damaged has consequences for a member of Salinas City Council. And it could get embarrassing.

Here’s what went down: Salinas police began following Haley in a stolen Toyota in South Salinas around 2pm, then bailed. Hours later, officers noticed the same car near Northridge Mall. When officers approached to confront Haley, he reversed toward a commander, in an apparent attempt to hit him. One officer fired a gun at Haley, who drove off down Laurel Drive, then turned southbound – in the wrong direction, hitting several cars on Davis Road in the process – before his car again came to a stop.

From there, the sequence begins again: Officers approach, Haley backs up, attempting to run them over; one officer fires. Haley drives down an embankment off the side of the road, ditches the car and runs. Officers catch up and arrest him.

Haley faces 15 criminal charges including attempted murder and assault on a police officer.

The two Salinas police officers who fired their guns are currently on leave, standard operating procedure after an officer-involved shooting and pending an investigation. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident, a new (and smart) policy that the Salinas PD doesn’t investigate its own officers.

That’s all according to the Salinas Police Department and DA’s office. But it looks like a separate – and more secretive – investigation has begun at the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

A sheriff’s deputy on duty rolled up to the scene, and laid a spike strip on the road hoping to puncture Haley’s tires and disable the car, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni.

He wasn’t there at the direction of Salinas PD, the agency in charge; he’d heard radio traffic about the incident and decided to intervene and play the hero.

When a Salinas police car following close behind ran over the spike strip, it blew out all four tires. That was the K9 unit, which would’ve been especially useful in a foot chase if the suspect ditched his car (which he eventually did). When officers were ready to dispatch a dog to chase down Haley, the dog was a half-mile behind the action.

That deputy is Salinas City Councilman Scott Davis.

Davis declined to comment, and a Salinas PD spokesperson directed questions to the Sheriff’s Department. Cmdr. John Thornburg, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, declined to speak about the incident: “I’m not allowed to comment on any aspect of what’s going on, because of what’s going on,” he says.

Salinas City Attorney Chris Callihan says he’s evaluating the extent of the damage to the fleet – which includes major dents thanks to PIT maneuvers, or Pursuit Intervention Technique, in which a cop bumps up against a fleeing car in an effort to force the driver to stop. Callihan’s trying to calculate a dollar figure for damages and determine whether to file an insurance claim.

“If the councilmember was involved, he was doing so not as a councilmember but as a deputy, so it’s not really a city issue at all,” Callihan adds. “He’s subject to whatever the Sheriff’s Office wants to do as far as investigating him. That doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

As far as a personnel investigation goes, that’s true. But considering that Davis, along with the rest of City Council, are the ultimate bosses of Salinas Police Chief Adele Fresé, it does have to do with Salinas. Out on the street, in theory, she’s above him in the law enforcement hierarchy, but in City Hall, that flips.

If Davis’ intervention had gone right and he caught Haley, we’d probably be cheering him. But it went wrong – luckily without more serious damage or injury – so there will be scrutiny. That’s going to get awkward, and there’s no laying down a spike strip to stop that.

SARA RUBIN is editor of the Weekly. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com“

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