The last year a woman was elected to Seaside City Council was 1996, when Helen Rucker and Nancy Amos both won a seat on the dais.
Twenty years later, three Seaside women are hoping to put that streak to an end.
Kay Cline, who’s long been an activist for sustainability in Seaside, is running for mayor against incumbent Ralph Rubio, who’s been mayor of Seaside for 10 of the last 12 years.
Former mayor Felix Bachofner also pulled papers for the race, as did community organizer Gertrude Smith, who co-founded the Seaside chapter of Black Lives Matter about a year ago. The deadline to file papers is Aug. 12; as the Weekly went to press, Bachofner was still unsure if he was going to run, and Smith had not filed papers.
Cline says her decision to run was spontaneous, and came only after local members of Progressive Democrats of America introduced her to Kayla Jones, a Seaside native who is running for City Council against incumbents Ian Oglesby and Dave Pacheco.
Jones will turn 23 before the Nov. 8 election.
“She’s a little firecracker,” Cline says. “She’s really smart.”
That meeting helped inspire Cline’s run, and where once she might have been reluctant, now she’s all in. “It’s very exciting,” she says. “I think of it as the ‘Year of the Woman’ in politics.”
The two are running as allies – but not a slate – and will campaign for each other as they knock on doors and spread a message about sustainability and smart growth, among others.
“I’ve been attending City Council meetings pretty regularly, and I’ve spent eight years as the leader of Sustainable Seaside,” Cline says. “I didn’t think my voice was being heard.”
Cline believes she is not alone in that, and points to District 4 Supervisor Jane Parker – who champions sustainability issues – earning twice as many Seaside votes as challenger Dennis Donohue in the June election.
Jones is new to the local political scene, but she has volunteered for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and Bernie Sanders’ campaign this year. She also has local political roots: Her grandmother was a longtime political aide to the District 4 county supervisor’s office, and also worked with Congressman Sam Farr, D-Carmel.
Growing up, Jones says she was “always surrounded by local government and local politics.”
She also has a deep understanding of the city’s military roots: Her grandfather was an adjutant general at Fort Ord.
Jones is currently a student at Monterey Peninsula College, and hopes to transfer to CSU Monterey Bay by next fall. She says her connection with youth is one of her key strengths, and thinks the City Council is missing an opportunity to bring CSUMB students into the fold.
“They’re more interested in pursuing unrealistic development schemes,” Jones says. “As a student, I have insight into what [students] want, and what the community wants.”
Bachofner is also highly critical of the current council, and thinks they have made “enormous” mistakes since he last held office.
“They’re not receptive to public comment,” he says. “They either aren’t listening or they aren’t understanding, or both.”
He says that’s been particularly true with respect to the proposed development Monterey Downs.
Rubio, who lost to Bachofner in 2010, has a rosy take on the years since unseating him and becoming mayor again in 2012.
He points to improving city finances, a drop in crime and hiring a new city manager as examples of success.
“If you look at the metrics, they’re all positive,” he says.
Rubio adds that he has the experience with water issues that he says will be key to helping Seaside prosper.
But win or lose, he’s not going to lose any sleep.
“I’ve been on both sides of [the vote], I know what it’s like,” Rubio says. “There’s no apprehension, it’s just business as usual.”
UPDATE: The ballot, finalized at 5pm on Friday Aug. 12, includes four candidates for mayor—incumbent Ralph Rubio and challengers Gertrude Smith, Kay Cline and Felix Bachofner—and three candidates for City Council, incumbents Ian Oglesby and Dave Pacheco, and challenger Kayla Jones.