|Feb 15, 2020|
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|Bill Hocker - Mar 9, 2020 5:06AM Share
NVR 4/21/20: Napa County Election Division posts final certified results from primary election
Final 2020 Primary Election Certified Results
County Mar 3, 2020 Election Results
as of 3/10/20 ("last" unofficial results?)
NVR 3/4/20: Measure K short of approval threshold; supporters still hopeful
NVR 3/4/20: Pedroza, Ramos lead Napa County Board of Supervisors races
NVR 3/4/20: Incumbents take lead in early Napa County returns
Amber Manfree, in the 3/9 unofficial results
, trails Alfredo Pedroza by about 800 votes in the election for District 4 Supervisor. Pedroza has 4449, Manfree 3,672. 6,700 ballots still to tabulate? (I think...the numbers are a bit confusing.).
In the race for District 5, Belia Ramos leads Mariam Aboutdamous 4125 to 3,620. 9,500 votes still to count
In another potential blow for preservationists, Measure K doesn't look like it will reach the 2/3 threshold needed to pass at about 63% yes to 37% no. The lack of a predictable funding source for the purchase of open space in the county by the Park District means that keeping those lands out of the hands of private developers will be much more difficult.
In all, the election seems to be a rout for anyone wishing to protect the county's rural and natural heritage. The majority on the Board remains the same, and so far that majority has been consistent in allowing development of vineyard property into event centers and in encouraging the development of woodlands for vineyard estates and of industrial development of the wetlands in the south county.
Added to these worries are the inducements that the pandemic, stock market crash, short term impact on tourism and long term fall in wine sales
, will create for future dilution of rural protections. Following the 2008 recession the wine industry and government made an effort to spur tourism development by loosening the restrictions on winery entertainment, a more profitable business than making wine. Visit Napa Valley was empowered. The municipalities also threw out the welcome mat for hotel development the effects of which we are just beginning to see. Another dose of tourism stimulus is to be expected.
NVR 3/16/20: Amid declining travel, Napa's wine industry braces for coronavirus impact
But already the direction of urban development in the county has shifted away from tourism and is headed in the more traditional directions of housing and roads, the directions explicitly rejected by the founders of Napa's agricultural economy. Mr. Pedroza ran on the basis of encouraging housing and transport projects. Promotion of such projects, by developers and politicians alike, is touted as relieving existing problems. The reality is that, by bringing a larger population into the county, they just induce even more development, urbanization increases and the problems get worse.
Statewide election results: CNN results by county here
|Bill Hocker - Mar 3, 2020 5:50AM Share
|Bill Hocker - Mar 11, 2020 2:58AM |
Amber's Campaign Manager, Jim King, has written a thank you note to those involved in the campaign:
I have started to reorganize after the campaign. Organizing the signs is especially poignant in that I read each as I put it together with its mates. There is sadness in not reaching our ultimate goal. There is even a bit of emptiness in not interacting with you and Amber on what became a daily basis. I wanted to share a bit but I promise, near the end, will be campaign information that may encourage you.
I honestly do not believe that I was ever a part of a campaign this touching…and this important.
In spite of not winning, people are saying we changed the conversation, that we moved the needle, that there is a new awareness to the issues we brought forward,
and the way we ran the campaign…and its costs.
Here is where perspective comes in. Did we do these things? If the response to our actions was any indication, then a resounding “yes” is the answer. We launched a campaign with 160 days until election. The incumbent had over $300,000 in his campaign fund. We ended with around $50,000. He mailed at least 10 pieces. In our short time frame we dashed-and-dropped 2 pieces, walked and knocked with 1 piece, and did a small mailing of about 4,000. Our first “walking piece” was designed and printed by Amber. Most everything was of Amber design and layout.
Pretty grassrootsy. ...and we came within 770 votes
Back to perspective. What else did we do without the funds and time? We waved. Sometimes it was 1 or 2 folks at a street corner, others it was over 30. First they waved the heck out of Bel Aire with 35 spread on all 4 corners, then it was 38 at Soscol and Lincoln. Soon we witnessed him having wavers of his own. Dan Mufson guided this effort.
What else? Our volunteers sent out over 4,500 post cards. All were handwritten! Lisa Bowers, and husband Paul, (who set up address spreadsheets), kept the folks writing with cards and addresses. Oh, and Amber designed the cards!
Before going too much further, Amber’s designs, especially the “Soda Canyon Blue Quail” (my name, not hers) has found a place in the hearts of many and caught the attention of all.
For a candidate to do all a candidate needs to do and create winning graphic designs and brochures is pretty impressive,
even for a Doctor…
Back to perspective….again. Laura Tinthoff took on Endorsements shortly after joining our crew. As the list grew and the quotes of support started coming in, you could see Laura’s excitement grow, as did ours. She confirmed, organized, and sought and obtained quotes.
In the end the list, the quotes, and the work was impressive.
Our signs were everywhere! Between the large signs and yard signs we had over 500 signs posted. Thanks to Charlotte Williams, with her sometimes sidekick, Don, along with Dan Mufson, Gary Margadant, Mike Hackett, Jim Wilson, Amy Martenson, and Chris Malan
…and others, for their diligence and efforts.
Our video efforts garnered way over 30,000 views (Yay E. Beth Nelson!). Israel Valencia kept catching the right light, right moments, and the real Amber throughout with his camera. Our Facebook page was cracking with Elaine de Man leading the way. Near the end we added texting, with Beth once again the lead. Technology became an important part of the campaign.
We had folks helping with forum preps and platform development. Dan Mufson, Roland Dumas, Greg Matsumoto, and Ron Rhyno all provided their learned guidance and support.
Another waver, walker, and more is Lauren Griffiths. She, not knowing what she might be stepping into, volunteered to be campaign treasurer. For those who have done this I can stop and they will know how hard it is to provide accolades for this role. For the rest of us, well, Lauren’s diligence and care took care of us. She was laser focused and detail oriented. Our sheets balance and reports made on time. She continued to smile throughout!
Shelle Wolfe worked magic, and provided same for all our events. Our kick-off was full of exuberant and excited people. The Art Soiree brought a special crowd for a unique and special evening, and under the guidance of Shelle each was successful and more.
Of course Shelle waved and walked and more.
Jill Thomas Doyle provided our first campaign “home” with cookies and espresso! She continued to do whatever the campaign needed from writing and editing news releases, to waving signs. We have pretty cool photos as Jill walks in front of Mr. Pedroza!
Mike Hacket provided much of the original impetus for there to be a campaign.
His encouragement and faith helped make this a reality. His fellow conspirator,
Jim Wilson, provided the same but he also walked off some real shoe leather
as he spread the word.
His amazing wife, Lenore, wrote around 1,000 post cards on her own!
Guillermo Rosas provided translation assistance, walked with us, and opened doors for Amber to allow us to gain understanding of the needs and visions the Latino community holds. He helped make certain that this important voice was a part of all we did.
Sahoko Yui provided something not all of us could, the depth of caring and understanding one can only get from a long-time friend. In addition she provided input on design, walked with Amber, waved signs, and more…and there were brownies!
Holly Morris, another long-time friend, provided editing, helped our messaging, and provided important guidance as we wrestled with decisions .
Kristina Young created and maintained our website. What an endeavor! Everything we did had to be done NOW…and she accomplished that. Our website grew to be beautiful informative, and engaging.
David Heitzman provided our sound, wherever and whenever we needed it. He helped us connect with Circle Oaks, and provided important input as the campaign grew.
I know I did not name all. I tried to let you know who was here day in and day out. Many more kept going , almost every day, Steve and Sandra Booth, Julia Winiarski, Diane Beere, Nancy McCoy Blotzke, and Charlotte Williams appears again! So many more....
So, I promised encouraging news. We did not win. That is clear now. But what did we accomplish?
We proved that you can run a local campaign, effectively, with $50,000 or less. In 160 days we are only 770 votes short. Time was more important than money.
We introduced the entire county to Amber
and the issues which drove her to challenge the incumbent.
We brought climate change, over development, cumulative impact, watersheds and water supply, all back to the conversation
We were joined in coalition by so many organizations and individuals that I will not take the space to list them here. Two things are important about this, first we have begun to collaborate, and it does not end here, secondly, the strength in numbers thing? It is real and you brought that when not only you but the organizations you are a part of joined this effort. Amber will be the first to say that this effort is and was about something much bigger than
Add your thoughts and observations to what was accomplished here.
I know I have not caught it all.
In closing, I simply want to say thank you. What we, you and I, did in 160 days was a miracle of its own. The connections made, the friendships born, will all add strength to our next steps. Yes, there is a touch of sadness but how could that last with the experience of getting to know each of you, watching as the light grew and each of you took part, and having the honor of getting to know and work with Amber.
We have work to do, the tools to do it, and the leaders are emerging to guide us, beginning with Amber.
|Elaine de Man - Feb 22, 2020 3:18AM Share
One of the county supervisors once told me that campaign contributions have no effect on their decisions. This brought to mind an expression I heard recently in the UK, "Don't pee up my back and tell me that it's raining."
Click to enlarge
I am looking at a graph that displays how much money certain individuals have “invested” in the three Napa County supervisors who are up for reelection on March 3. And the view is staggering.
In the 2020 election alone, Charles Wagner
(Caymus & Wagner Family Wines) has contributed $42,500 to the three incumbents, including $20,000 to Belia Ramos.
Craig and Kathryn Hall
(Hall Wines, Walt Ranch, and more) came in second, with $39,500. The lion’s share of that, $25,000, went to Alfredo Pedroza. In fact, the graph shows that Pedroza takes the lion’s share of money from all the big spenders except for Wagner.
Looking at these numbers, and seeing what’s happening in the county, I find it difficult to believe that it has no influence on the decisions being made by the Board of Supervisors. Otherwise, why would these people throw so much money their way?
Click to enlarge
The specific favors they might be looking for become even more apparent when you look at how much money has been given to Pedroza since the 2016 election. Here is another graph that shows how much influence ($37,300) Craig Hall
, from Frisco, Texas, wields over Pedroza. That might help to understand why Pedroza supported Hall’s 2,300-acre Walt Ranch project, which will cut down 14,000 trees, threaten local water supplies, and amplify oak woodland destruction. And Pedroza supported it even though there was overwhelming opposition from local neighbors and residents throughout Napa County.
Other Pedroza benefactors also have big projects either already approved or in the works. Peter Read’s
Circle R Ranch will soon be converted from wildland and cattle grazing to vineyards. The run-off from that could impact Milliken Reservoir and Napa’s municipal water supply. Read has given Pedroza $17,500.
278-acre Bloodlines Vineyard project above Rector Reservoir, currently before the county for approval, will also impact a municipal water supply. Phinney has given Pedroza $12,500.
(Hess Collection) has a 20+ acre vineyard expansion project pending approval that will require the removal of some 368 coast live oak trees up on Atlas Peak. Nissen has given Pedroza $8,000.
Click to enlarge
But what is most disturbing is the impact this huge influx of money has on the democratic process, which becomes crystal clear if you look at the graph that compares the amount of money available to each of the contestants in District 4 to spend on their campaigns.
As of January 18, Pedroza had $357,352. Amber Manfree had $30,239.
Keep in mind that we are talking about a district where only 8,639 people voted in 2016.
What we have here is not a democracy. But a plutocracy. A society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth.
The amount of money Pedroza's sponsors give him is not needed to win this election. But it does create a virtual firewall to prevent anyone else from daring to run against him.
Fortunately, Amber Manfree
did not get that memo...or she simply chose to ignore it. That's courage of the highest order. And that’s what is lacking on the current Board of Supervisors.
Since deciding to run just a few months ago, Amber has inspired more than 200 volunteers who are busy now pounding the pavement, talking to constituents, writing postcards, distributing signs, and making phone calls on her behalf. They don't have boatloads of cash to influence the outcome of this election. But they are giving her their most valuable asset, their time -- because they have the most to lose, their
quality of life.
And Amber has respected their
commitment by facing every challenge thrown her way, appearing at every candidate's forum and participating in every interview she's been invited to.
I can't say the same for her overly-funded opponent, Alfredo Pedroza, who seems to think giving away tacos on Tuesdays, hiring organizations to make robo calls, and mailing (ad nauseam
) misleading fliers is all it takes to earn him the votes he needs.
It’s clear to me that Amber is the most qualified choice for Napa County supervisor. I hope you agree because this corrupt funding of our local elections has to stop. And we're the only ones who can do it.
Let's send the plutocrats an important message. If you live in District 4, please vote for Amber Manfree. If you don’t, please tell all your friends who do. This is how we'll reclaim democracy. Together.
NVR LTE version 2/22/20: Democracy drowning in a sea of money
|Donald Williams - Feb 13, 2020 8:09PM Share
I appreciate your editorial board interviewing candidates for county supervisor. Thanks to you for that service, and to them for running. The editorial explained that your board’s default position is to favor incumbents because of their experience. (“The choices for Napa County supervisor
,” Jan. 26).
But two principles powerfully antithetical to incumbency are just as important as experience. One is a new supervisor’s fresh perspective. Anyone in any job after a while can become stale. Supervisors, too, can stall out. New people bring new ideas and different approaches. Defaulting to incumbency, by contrast, discourages innovation.
There’s another reason to favor newcomers. A change of supervisors means even more and different people are in service to our community. I dream of a day when strolling the street I encounter everywhere people who’ve taken their turn at local government. But broader participation won’t happen if we reflexively favor incumbents.
Challengers offer an opportunity to connect with people whom the incumbents couldn’t reach (even the most earnest incumbent can’t reach everyone). When more people connect and feel involved, democracy thrives.
Elected officials in our county are a small group. Protracted tenure makes it too easy to become clubby with special interests, with one another, or with staff --- public excluded. Not good. The remedy is to open the elected-official club, rotate its membership.
Incumbents leave office, yet counties manage to survive. Every incumbent was once new to the job. If experience was the crucial criterion for success in legislation, we’d just hire people to sit there for lifetimes. But let’s not fantasize that holding office bestows any special skill or aptitude.
I wish it did. I sit on the city council in Calistoga. I’m conscientious and try to be responsive to Calistogans. But the experience I’ll offer after eight years (if I’m there that long) won’t be as valuable as the fresh perspectives and approaches of a new council member. Holding office can become a bad habit. Would you like our presidents to serve more than eight years?
Incumbent Supervisor Ramos did not impress your editorial board. If a challenger had presented herself the way Ramos did, the editorial board would probably dismiss her. Still, your panel couldn’t bring itself to endorse Aboudamous---a “bright” and impressive alternative---so prejudiced were they for “experience”!
Only that prepossession could explain the editorial board’s unfathomable reluctance to endorse the other challenger, Amber Manfree. As you noted, she is “intelligent, personable, and passionate,” with “refreshing authenticity.” (Already she deserves our vote.)
But there’s more: “She is a scientist . . . and understands the issues at stake in development of wild lands as well as anyone on the board.” And she’s not endorsed? You gotta be kidding. Manfree is a rare and precious opportunity that Napa cannot afford to let slip by.
Instead you offer faint praise for Pedroza’s “policy points” on transportation issues -- ironically, since this incumbent government has superintended massive traffic miseries on Napans. That’s not to mention the precipitation of an alarming identity crisis: Are we authentically ag or are we Disneyland?
Now, now, now is the time for change on the board of supervisors. What in the world are we waiting for?
NVR version 2/13/20: Fresh perspectives are needed in elective office
|George Caloyannidis - Feb 12, 2020 3:16AM Share
I just sent a $2,000 check to Amber Manfree who is running against the establishment incumbent Alfredo Pedroza in Supervisor District 4. It's a drop in the bucket.
By now, every citizen in this country is aware that elections are being bought. Almost impossible to reverse this corrupt culture at the national level, perhaps it is at the local levels. How inspiring if that place were the Napa Valley.
Consider that citizens time and time again have stood no chance in opposing wineries in places where they impair the convenience, even safety of the locals, or the dozens which have their use permits adjusted to fit their violations just for the asking, increasing their visitors and events or becoming veritable restaurants with commercial kitchens causing ones in the cities to close.
All the while the impacts of these establishments have been certified as mitigated to “less than significant” without standards to measure them against, year after year, project after project piled on top of one another. The ordinary citizens in this county who go to work every day have been trusting our government to indeed have all impacts mitigated. Until one day, they wake up and what took them 20 minutes to go to work, takes now 40. Mitigated?
The jobs this kind of growth creates -- vineyard and hospitality workers - are the lowest paying ones. They invite commuters who, in turn, require affordable housing and let’s be honest, several thousand units of them to make an appreciable dent.
But more housing units put a strain in our resources such as water and to our infrastructure such as water, sewer, electrical and gas delivery networks and diminish its useful life.
Our supervisors are well-educated people who ought to know what’s going on. They live where we live, they know that their policies are inviting more and more low paying jobs, they know that wineries in remote areas with accessibility problems are the wrong places for them, they know that their economy model is destroying our common quality of life and yet, they continue the course. They even instituted a “streamlining” winery approval process which excludes public testimony, designed to sideline the considerable brain power of citizens in this county as a nuisance.
They have also distanced themselves from project approvals by leaving it up to their hand-picked, unelected Planning Commissioners. They hear about them only on appeal which is an expensive process for ordinary citizens. Non-responsive government invites expensive lawsuits as the county well knows.
Amber Manfree is a Ph.D scientist whose campaign has collected fewer than $30,000. Her opponent, Mr. Pedroza, has about $250,000, 95% of which come from the hospitality and winery businesses (amounts and percentages change daily). Five donors alone have contributed over $110,000. Law firms hoping for positive rulings for projects they represent, and like sold ambassadorships, his Planning Commissioner’s firm are among his contributors. It is hard to disassociate this culture with the growth model the county keeps promoting. And bit by bit, the Napa Valley is being destroyed. From within.
I read a few letters in support of Mr. Pedroza. They thank him for helping them through their home permitting process after the 2017 fire. Such help shouldn’t be needed. Clients whose home I designed only 18 years ago had to wait eight weeks to get their permit, even two weeks just to get a nailing inspection. Roadblocks, rather than streamlining where streamlining ought to have been for the fire victims. Approved plans are still not kept on record at the county when people lose them in a fire as was in this case. All under Mr. Pedroza’s watch.
And when it came to support his district’s constituency in their fight to disallow helicopter landings at a private home in their neighborhood, he never as much lifted his finger to support them claiming conflict of interest. But when it came to Measure D, which disallowed helicopter landings at residences in general, he continued to remain silent even though he voted for the county to adopt a single interest measure saving it the expense of going to the voters.
Ms. Manfree’ s primary platform states: “Putting locals first.”
It is about time someone running for supervisor committed to that. This does not mean she is taking aim at the hospitality and wine industries. What it means is balance - a highly complex undertaking at this point - in the way growth in general is being envisioned and managed considering that ordinary people also live here but striped of their balancing power. It means that cumulative impacts of projects will no longer be pushed under the rug, it means searching for sorely needed ways to diversify our economy and it means that no one will have bought her vote.
In this endeavor, her science-driven analytical expertise will add a valuable dimension hereto lacking on the board.
NVR version 2/11/20: Buying elections in Napa Valley’s 4th district
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