SodaCanyonRoad | Vote for Cottrell and Gallagher

Vote for Cottrell and Gallagher
Bill Hocker | Dec 2, 2022 on: Campaign 2022

Update 12/2/22
Despite the small number of people in Napa County it always seems to take a long time for the votes to be counted. Now, almost a month after the polls have closed, the Register has published the results of the races too close to call earlier. (KQED Napa County election results here). Joelle Gallagher and Anne Cottrell were declared winners shortly after the election, but it is good to know now that Don Williams has been elected mayor of Calistoga, Paul Dohring has been elected mayor of St Helena, and the expansion of the AmCan urban-rural line has failed. It has been a sweep for the races that mattered to me, with the candidates and issues winning that are more resistant to the development industry lust that continues to consume the rural character of the county.

Partisan politics, of the red and blue variety, barely raises its head in Napa County. The real political division is between development interests, who built or tapped into a thriving agriculture-tourism economy over the last 50 years and who feel that it can be expanded indefinitely, and preservation interests, including members of the wine industry, who see the process as beginning to exceed sustainable limits in urban growth and resource depletion that threaten the continuation of the county's rural legacy. That division plays out in the makup of Napa County's Board of Supervisors. Napa is Napa, and not Santa Clara, because a preservationist majority on the Board has more often prevailed.

But since 2000 there has been a shift from the Ag Preserve agenda, begun in 1968 and concerned with the constraint of urban development to allow agriculture to survive, to a Board majority more receptive to the "growth" concerns of most governments - how to create ever more jobs, housing, infrastructure and the illusive goal of more government revenue.

The two Napa County supervisors retiring after the coming 2022 election, District 3 Supervisor Diane Dillon and District 1 Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht, are the vestiges of the preservation agenda. Un-coincidentally their districts contain the vast bulk of vineyard acreage in the county. From the standpoint of the many people concerned about development pressure in the county, and who have shown up at Planning Commission and BOS meetings over the last 9 years, they have become the main voices weighing urban development against the desire to preserve an economy based on agriculture and the desire of residents to protect the county's rural character. That balance is now seldom the highest consideration in land use decisions with the focus now on tourism and industrial projects and the workforce housing and infrastructure needed for a "growth" economy..

Unfortunately, even with the election of "preservationists" to replace the two supervisors, it will only maintain the status quo, and the level of development now being approved will continue. But if their replacements are "growth" minded supervisors, it will probably usher in the end of the Ag Preserve experiment as the new board aggressively pushes more development as a solution to the traffic, housing and tight-budget problems caused by the Board's previous development decisions and more tourism as a solution to the declining value of wine to a younger generation more interested in "experiences" than the quality of the wine. If there is any hope of regaining a majority that will support the low-growth ideals of the Ag Preserve heritage, these two seats must be retained in the preservationist camp.

The planning commissioners appointed by Sups. Dillon and Wagenknecht, Anne Cottrell and Joelle Gallagher are both running in their respective districts, and both have made herculean efforts at moderating the scale of development proposals before them at the commission. Both have solid administrative experience that will allow them to take on the myriad issues that Supervisors must deal with on a day to day basis. But they have also proven themselves in the trenches as protectors of the land use legacy that makes Napa distinct from other Bay Area counties, and that is the core of Napa's economy, character and identity. Vote for Cottrell in District 3 and Gallagher in district 1 to preserve that committment to agriculture and rural protection for the next 50 years.

Anne Cottrell website
Joelle Gallagher website