Feb 15, 2020

2020 Napa County Campaign

Nov 3, 2020 General Election
Geoff Ellsworth for Mayor website
Geoff Ellsworth for Mayor facebook page

NVR 11/30/20: Tuteur certifies Napa election, says no major problems
SH Star 6/2/20: St. Helena Mayor Geoff Ellsworth running for re-election
NapaVision2050: Geoff Ellsworth endorsement

Mar 3, 2020 Primary Election
Three Supervisors are up for re-election in 2020:
District 4 Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza is being opposed by Amber Manfree. (Pedroza wins)
District 5 Supervisor Bella Ramos is being opposed by Miriam Aboudmous. (Ramos wins)
District 2 Supervisor Ryan Gregory is running unopposed.
Proposition K, sponsored by the Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space DIstrict, is also on the ballot. It would create a .25% addition to local sales taxes to fund the maintainenance of parks and open space in the county.

City of St. Helena Geoff Ellsworth press release
Geoff Ellsworth Election Thank You! (He was re-elected)

Final 2020 Primary Election Certified Results
First Unofficial Election Report
Measure K website
Miriam Aboudamous for District 5 Supervisor website
Amber Manfree for District 4 Supervisor website
Amber Manfree for Supervisor Facebook page
County Districts Map
County Precinct Maps
Napa County Campaign Contributions
2016 Primary Election results

NVR 4/21/20: Napa County Election Division posts final certified results from primary election
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
Bill Hocker LTE 2/24/20: Vote Amber: 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa
NVR 2/24/20: Pedroza has raised Napa County's largest campaign war chest
Elaine de Man LTE 2/22/20: Democracy drowning in a sea of money
Ron Rhyno LTE 2/22/20: Governance for sustainability, or vulnerability and decline
Rebecca Steinschriber LTE 2/19/20: Amber Manfree: Adding expertise to the board of supervisors
Donald Williams LTE 2/13/20: Fresh perspectives are needed in elective office
NVR 2/13/20: Endorsements in Ramos/Aboudamous race includes surprises
Ginna Beharry LTE 2/11/20: A fresh approach, accessible, committed to locals
George Caloyannidis LTE 2/11/20: Buying elections in Napa Valley’s 4th district
Patricia Damery LTE 2/6/20: Vote for Amber Manfree
NVR 1/28/20: Napa County Supervisor Pedroza leads the fundraising field
NVR Editorial Board 1/26/20: The choices for Napa County supervisor
Harris Nussbaum LTE 1/25/20: Support Amber Manfree for Napa County supervisor
NVR 1/25/20: Napa County candidates give wine country visions
Farm Bureau LTE 1/24/20: Farm Bureau: Why we withdrew support from Belia Ramos
Elaine de Man LTE 1/23/20: Support Amber Manfree to unseat Alfredo Pedroza
NVR 1/19/20: District 4 Board of Supervisors: Manfree challenging Pedroza
NVR 12/6/19: American Canyon Vice Mayor Aboudamous to challenge Ramos for Napa Supervisor seat
NVR 12/5/19: Pedroza vs. Manfree could be only contested Napa County supervisor race (not!)
NVR 8/7/19: Three Napa County supervisor incumbents all alone in fundraising race
NVR 7/9/19: Gifts, investments for Napa County officials go online


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Incumbents remain: more development ahead

Bill Hocker - Mar 9, 2020 5:06AM  Share #2081

Update 3/21/20
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

Amber for District 4 Supervisor 2020

Bill Hocker - Mar 3, 2020 5:50AM  Share #2058

"No matter what the outcome of this election, win or lose, we need to keep pushing as hard as we can for these agendas in this county because we have an incredible amount of energy right now and everyone is paying attention...Whether you voted or not I'm interested to hear what your concerns are. Let's make this a better place."

Election Night Speech

Website: ambermanfreeforsupervisor2020.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ambermanfree2020/

NVR 3/4/20: Pedroza, Ramos lead Napa County Board of Supervisors races
Bill Hocker LTE 2/24/20: Vote Amber: 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa
Elaine de Man LTE 2/22/20: Democracy drowning in a sea of money
Ron Rhyno LTE 2/22/20: Governance for sustainability, or vulnerability and decline
Rebecca Steinschriber LTE 2/19/20: Amber Manfree: Adding expertise to the board of supervisors
Donald Williams LTE 2/13/20: Fresh perspectives are needed in elective office
George Caoyannidis LTE 2/11/20: Buying elections in Napa Valley’s 4th district
Jim King LTE 2/7/20: Endorsing the wrong candidate
Beth Nelson LTE 2/7/20: Amber Manfree is needed on the Board of Supervisors.
Patricia Damery LTE 2/6/20: Vote for Amber Manfree
Harris Nussbaum LTE 1/25/20: Support Amber Manfree for Napa County supervisor
NVR Editorial Board 1/26/20: The choices for Napa County supervisor
NVR 1/25/20: Napa County candidates give wine country visions
Elaine de Man LTE 1/23/20: Support Amber Manfree to unseat Alfredo Pedroza
Napa vision 2050 Newsletter 12/10/19: Genuine Amber "Putting Locals First"
NVR 12/5/19: Pedroza vs. Manfree could be only contested Napa County supervisor race

Ron Rhyno writes:
Amber Manfree, is the choice for decision-making based in extensive scientific knowledge, commitment to actually researching community issues, reflective thought, critical thinking, extensive life experience, and revealing and speaking factual truths to Power.

Rebecca Steinschriber writes:
What Amber gives us is the invaluable perspective of a highly-trained problem-solver, an even-handed, open-minded spirit who has made a career out of approaching complex issues with a combination of data, discipline, and heart.

Jim King writes:
Amber Manfree is the leader we need now and into the future. The issues facing Napa County are too important and complicated to continue with the direction of the current board. It is time that the people lining up to speak about how a project before the board that will affect their lives are listened to. It is time that what we say has an impact on the decisions made.

Beth Nelson writes:
[Dr. Manfree has] a clear vision for the future of Napa County: a government that serves all the people who live here, rather than the ones with the most money to spend on politicians, and to balance our agricultural heritage with protecting the watershed and mitigating climate change--a Board of Supervisors that works for all of us and our future.

Patricia Damery writes:
With her educational background and experience, Amber will bring much-needed knowledge to the Board of Supervisors about the potential consequences of the continuing unfettered development of our wild lands.

Elaine de Man writes:
Social Justice Forum held this month at the Napa County Library that addressed issues such as campaign finance limits, sustainable ground water, community banks, healthcare delivery, land-use impacts on climate change, and more. The stand-out candidate was Amber Manfree

Mike Hackett writes:
I want to personally encourage you to come meet Dr. Amber Manfree who is challenging the incumbent, Alfredo Pedroza, for County Supervisor.

She is from a multi- generational Napa family, intelligent; likely THE land use expert in all of Napa County, and the change needed in local government. Do you feel like the balance of industry and citizens is outa' whack? Well I sure do. Amber will put citizens first, all the while respecting the long term interests of the wine industry as well. She will listen to you AND take real action!

She is up against the big money here and needs your support. She is THE change needed right here, right now. I fully support Amber for election to the Napa County Board of Supervisors.


Vote for Amber

Amber Manfree for Supervisor: Putting Locals First

Kathryn Winter Endorses Amber Manfree

Environmental Forum For Napa County

Amber Manfree springs into action

Amber at the Arty Party Hour
Great interview!

Amber Manfree reflects on the 2017 Atlas Fires

Vote for Amber!

Vote for Amber!

Still time to vote!

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.

Thank you

20 years of "growth" is killing Napa

Bill Hocker - Feb 24, 2020 12:09PM  Share #2078

Napa history has always played out in the flux of "growth" and "preservation" interests embodied by the Board of Supervisors (BOS). Napa is Napa (and not Santa Clara) because the preservationists have more often carried the day in BOS decisions. But in the last 20 years the balance has been shifting distinctly in the direction of growth.

That transition began in ernest with Bill Dodd's election as District 4 supervisor in 2000. Defeating preservationist Kathryn Winter, his election was a signal, in campaign promises and the press, that priorities would be changing on the board. The results of his growth-friendly tenure are omnipresent - in the traffic, in industrial development, in hillside development, in the amount of tourism development and the consequent loss of affordable housing and local businesses and the disappearance of a small town, rural way of life. Under his tenure, Carneros Inn and Meritage were built. He was instrumental in pursuing Napa Pipe, the biggest urban development in the history of the county, as well as the Jameson Canyon freeway that has enabled the development of the airport and American Canyon industrial zones. He supported the 2008 General Plan Update and 2010 WDO revisions that codified tourism marketing as agricultural activity allowable on ag zoned lands, tilting the balance of tourism and production codified in the 1990 WDO toward the tourism industry.

In 2014 Mr. Dodd supported the Governor's appointment of Alfredo Pedroza as his successor. Since becoming Supervisor, in the face of rising concern by local residents about the growth trajectory that the county is on, Mr. Pedroza has continued to promote the interests of corporations, entrepreneurs and plutocrats in their development projects. Under his tenure woodlands continue to be converted into vineyard estates, farmlands to be converted into winery tourist attractions and wetlands to be converted into warehouses. All with predictable traffic increases and housing shortages. He worked to eviscerate the BOS response to Agricultural Protection Advisory Commission recommendations, a process begun by public demand to curb winery proliferation. He approved the 2,300 acre Walt Ranch vineyard estate project, the remote Mountain Peak Winery and supported, through his commissioner, the Palmaz personal heliport, each to benefit plutocrats in the face of overwhelming opposition from his own District 4 constituents. He opposed Measure C's woodland protections, instead helping to craft an ineffectual alternative. He supported the redefinition of agriculture in county code to lock in tourism as an agricultural activity. He supports bringing in ever more tourists by generously funding Visit Napa Valley and streamlining winery use permits for new venues to accommodate them. He supported the expansion of the Syar excavations up against Skyline Wilderness Park in the face of substantial resident opposition. He supported the development or expansion of Girard, Raymond, and other winery projects vigorously opposed by residents defending their neighborhoods against commercialization. He is promoting infrastructure improvments to allow faster buildout of the airport wetlands, already a major area of traffic congestion. He appointed a developer to the County Planning Commission to advance his land use agenda there.

Mr. Pedroza is a skilled politician. Were he to make a realistic commitment to curbing the development forces that now threaten the county's rural character, rather than embracing them, he would be an admirable champion. Unfortunately his political decisions and substantial campaign donations from major developers in the county (some $380,000 from 2018 to Feb 2020) point elsewhere. On the stump his issues are the need for more housing and more transportation options, both pressing issues created by the last 20 years pursuing a "growth" economy. His platform is more development as a solution to the impacts of growth. It is a developer's agenda guaranteed to make housing and traffic problems worse.

The majority of the Board of Supervisors will set the future direction of the county. The majority currently supports more development. We will already see a vast amount of future development as the dozens of wineries, millions of square feet of industrial space, Napa Pipe and numerous other major projects all approved under Mr. Pedroza's tenure in the last few years become a reality. Continuing that trajectory with even more approvals going forward will only make the traffic, housing infrastructure and resource impacts exponentially worse.

Yet there is the possibility that those problems can be lessened if the growth trajectory we are on is changed. To do so means that a preservationist majority must be returned to the Board. Two of the current Board members, those on it the longest, understand how difficult it has been to maintain an agricultural and rural county in the face of urban development pressure. A third preservationist back on the board might lead them to take a more forceful role in returning to the principles that created the ag preserve in the first place and that have protected this place since.

Local residents, opposed by their political leaders and development interests, have increasingly taken on the task of preserving Napa's unique rural heritage, by participation in planning and Board meetings, by public advocacy and costly litigation, and by the promotion of ballot initiatives and candidates for office. Residents need to have stronger representation on the Board. As in 2000, this election can have a significant impact on the future of Napa County, but instead in the direction of preservation rather than development.

Dr. Amber Manfree
is running against Mr. Pedroza in the upcoming election. She is smart and capable, and is committed to supporting the interests of local residents, vintners and growers who understand the unique and fragile value of their rural, small-town enclave in the urbanized Bay Area. In addition to the refreshing, personable authenticity lauded by the Register's Editorial Board, Dr. Manfree brings a scientist's analytic ability to define problems and devise solutions and a longtime rural resident's desire for solutions that protect the unique character of this place. Most importantly, she knows that in the land use battles that have made Napa a "national treasure", it has been a commitment to preservation rather than growth that has allowed this rural environment and agricultural economy to survive the past fifty years and that the same commitment is needed now more than ever if they are to survive the next fifty.

NVR LTE version 2/24/20: Vote Amber: 20 years of "growth" is killing Napa
This is the shorter version of this article published in the Register.

Democracy drowning in a sea of money

Elaine de Man - Feb 22, 2020 3:18AM  Share #2082

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 Reads 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.

David Phinney's 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.

Peter Nisson (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

Bill Hocker - Feb 22, 2020 8:39AM

NVR 2/24/20: Pedroza has raised Napa County's largest campaign war chest
Napa County campaign contribution website - the source for Elaine's numbers. (It does take some effort to extract the information).

Elaine had another interesting tidbit to be gleaned from the contribution summaries: Mr. Pedrosa's campaign committee, Friends of Alfredo Pedroza, spent over $43,000 at the Meratige Resort in 2019, and at least $131,000 there in 2018. That's a lot of friendship.

Next-door post annotated

Bill Hocker - Feb 19, 2020 8:32AM  Share #2079

[This post was sent in response to a Nextdoor discussion on the Napa River Watershed Symposium]

Just to add another viewpoint to the discussion:

Supervisor Pedroza is an experienced politician but he has done no favors for residents who value the rural environment or quality of life that is the legacy of Napa's ag preserve legislation.

While often expressing concern for environmental stewardship, Mr.Pedroza, in fact, continues to pursue a growth agenda championed by his predecessor and mentor, Bill Dodd, elected to the board 20 years ago (I would recommend this refresher). Together they have led the Board in promoting more tourism and industrial growth than the county can handle, clogging county roads with traffic, creating an affordable housing crisis, consuming small town life to serve a growing tourist population.

He worked to eviscerate the Board's response to Agricultural Protection Advisory Commission recommendations, a process begun by public demand to curb winery proliferation [1]. He supported the redefinition of agriculture in county code to lock in tourism as an agricultural process [2]. He supports Visit Napa Valley to bring in ever more tourists [3] and supports streamlining winery use permits for new venues to accommodate them, most, no doubt, in remote areas [4]. He approved the expansion of the Syar excavations adjacent Skyline Wilderness Park in the face of substantial resident opposition [5]. He approved the development or expansion of Woolls Ranch [6], Girard [7], Raymond [8], and other winery projects all vigorously opposed by residents defending their neighborhoods against commercialization. He approved the 2300 acre Walt Ranch vineyard estate project [9] and the remote Mountain Peak Winery [10] (my personal reason to be here) and supported, through his commissioner, the Palmaz heliport [11], each to benefit plutocrats in the face of overwhelming opposition from his own District 4 constituents. Unfortunately, Mr. Pedroza continues to support policies and make decisions that benefit the entrepreneurs that contribute to his substantial campaign war chest leaving residents to suffer the impacts of their developments.

Regarding the aftermath of Measure C mentioned above, Mr. Pedroza opposed Measure C's substantial woodland protections [12], crafting instead the Board's modest proposals (linked in Ms. Tauziet's post above.) Those proposals were shown by Dr. Manfree's "fact-based" analysis to create a 4% saving in deforestation. (see her analysis here). The resulting ordinance is not nearly enough to discourage the status quo rate of deforestation nor does it show a commitment on the part of the Board to take woodland preservation or climate change seriously. [13]

Despite a wealth of environmental regulations, under the current Board hillsides continue to be littered with buildings and vineyard estates, vineyards continue to be filled with tourist attractions, wetlands continue to be covered with warehouses, and housing and major road projects, the nemeses of the creators of the ag preserve [14], continue to be proposed as the solution to our problems. A change in the growth trajectory is needed.

Please, if you wish to see the survival of a rural Napa County for the next 50 years, I urge you to consider a closer look at Amber Manfree. She brings a scientist's analytic understanding to the problems we face and a longtime rural resident's passion to protect the qualities that make Napa a desirable place to be.

[1] NVR 1/6/16: Supervisors set rough outlines for winery rule changes
The APAC process and the subsequent tweaking by the planning commission and BOS was long and convoluted. 4 of the 12 APAC recommendations were massaged by the Supes and their versions, as noted here, were quite different from the APAC versions. The policies that were finally implemented in the name of APAC, a legalization process for out-of-compliance wineries and a fast track winery approval process have only benefitted the industry with residents worse off than before.
[2] NVR 4/9/17: Napa County's new definition of agriculture to include marketing and sales
[3] 11/12/19 BOS agenda item 9B
[4] NVR 1/15/20: Napa County favors streamlining for some winery expansion requests
[5] NVR 10/19/16: Napa supervisors pass final Syar expansion approvals as lawsuit looms
[6] NVR 11/22/14: Supervisors approve Woolls Ranch Winery
[7] NVR 3/10/16: Supervisors back proposed Girard Winery
[8] NVR 8/16/17: Napa County Supervisors side with Raymond Vineyards
[9] NVR 12/6/16: Napa County supervisors endorse controversial Walt Ranch
[10] NVR 5/25/17: Napa County approves remote, controversial Mountain Peak winery
[11] NVR 9/7/17: Palmaz heliport team weighs options after Napa Planning Commission defeat (Sup. Pedroza's commissioner Terry Scott was the only vote to approve.)
[12] No-on-C endorsements
[13] NVR 4/9/19: Napa County passes controversial tree and water ordinance, so what's next?
[14] NVR 4/20/08: How Napa's Ag Preserve beat the odds, and saved the valley

Supervisor Pedroza's constituents

Bill Hocker - Feb 17, 2020 2:58AM  Share #2080

The Register reported on supervisor campaign contributions recently:
NVR 1/28/20: Napa County Supervisor Pedroza leads the fundraising field.
The county has a website to track the contributions here (although it does take some effort to extract the information).

From 2018 though Jan 18, 2020 Supervisor Pedroza has raised a total of $372,809, and according to the NVR article currently has $284,713 still on hand. (By comparison Incumbent Belia Ramos has raised a total of $196,629, incumbent Ryan Gregory $132,216, challenger Amber Manfree $70,302, and challenger Mariam Aboudamous $55,660. The real power of incumbency is fairly clear.)

Supervisor Pedroza's fundraising prowess and his stable of all-star wine industry contributors get a write up in each election cycle. They have now been graphed. Notably many of the names have had development projects up before the Planning Commission and BOS in the last few years. I'm sure in any election for any public office in the world the names of contributors come up in the applications and legislation managed by the elected officials. Yet when seeing the vast amounts of money being thrown at a candidate by development interests in a community, far beyond that needed to cover direct campaign costs, one can't help but feel it is more than just friendship. The legal precision of quid pro quo immunizes the intent of contributions, but contributor, recipient and the public understand why large sums of money are given. It is, of course that direct link between elected government employment and urban development that is so hard to counter in a rural community attempting to forestall urban takeover.

It may look bad but it's all above board. An interesting tidbit to be gleaned from the contribution summaries: Mr. Pedrosa's campaign committee, Friends of Alfredo Pedroza, spent over $43,000 at the Meratige Resort in 2019, and at least $131,000 there in 2018. That's a lot of friendship which I, though a District 4 constituent, seemed to have missed out on.

Fresh perspectives are needed in elective office

- Feb 13, 2020 8:09PM   Edit  |    Share #2077

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

Buying elections in Napa Valley's 4th district

George Caloyannidis - Feb 12, 2020 3:16AM  Share #2075

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

Artists and Friends for Amber Manfree For Supervisor Soirée!

Bill Hocker - Jan 1, 2020 10:42AM  Share #2096

Please Join Us!

RSVP: Shelle@WineDineEvents.com

Soirée Details

Please join us for an evening soiree, complete with Rotten Robbie DJ, Silent Auction, Nibbles, and "Bake Sale," hosted by local Artists and
Friends of Amber Manfree, Candidate for Supervisor, Napa County, Dist. 4.
Come party with us!

Amber is the daughter of local potter Debra Manfree, and understands the important role the arts play in a joyful life.

With close personal ties to many artists living in Napa County, Amber is aware that concerns of the local arts community are not being addressed by local leadership. This event is an opportunity to highlight Napa artists, support Amber's campaign, and to have a conversation about how to elevate the profile of Napa's art scene.

It is also an opportunity to mingle, sip, and nibble and get to know Amber.

Also consider bringing a piece of your art to display and promote yourself, and ideally to donate to the silent auction on behalf of Amber's campaign for Supervisor.

We hope you can join us, Wednesday, February 5th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the Women's Center, 218 Franklin Street, Napa. If you have interested friends, the more the merrier!

And, if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to bring your dimes and quarters so you can participate in the first-ever bake sale in Napa County to support a candidate for the Board of Supervisors!

Let's celebrate Napa's vibrant arts community
and support a candidate who knows that ART MATTERS!

Paid for by Amber Manfree for Supervisor 2020 FPPC ID# 1422133


Of Course there are many ways you can help Amber's Campaign for District Four Supervisor!
(Click here to Volunteer)
For the Event we need:
Wine to share (red and white)
Baked Goods for the Bake Sale

Requesting Volunteers before, during or after the event...
Set Up
Cleaning during the event
Managing the donations for the bake sale
Assist to set up art and silent auction
Check guests in
Post event breakdown

Any help is much appreciated!
(Click here to Volunteer)

Here are other ways to help:





Host Meet and Greet

Letters to the Editor

Post on Social Media
(Share, post, like)

Share Amber's Website

Copyright © 2020 Amber Manfree for Supervisor 2020, All rights reserved.

Buttigieg on the dark side

Bill Hocker - Dec 19, 2019 9:21AM  Share #2056

LAProgressive 12/25/19: Mayor Pete’s Favorite Wine-Maker Hasn’t Been A Good Napa Neighbor
HuffPost 12/20/19: Yes, It Is Plainly Wrong To Meet Donors In A Billionaire’s Crystal Wine Cave
NYT 12/20/19: Democrats Sparred Over a Wine Cave Fund-Raiser. Its Billionaire Owner Isn’t Pleased.
Vox 12/19/19: The Warren-Buttigieg wine cave controversy, explained
NVR 12/13/19: Pete Buttigieg to make fundraising stop in the Napa Valley

I've been quite partial to Mayor Pete. With a commanding and quick intellect he has seemed to be a political jujitsu master able to turn any attack back on his attacker with a cogent and convincing repost (as he did with Warren's attack). It is a necessary skill to take on a streetwise thug like Trump on the debate stage.

Unfortunately he has just dulled his allure, no matter how cogent his case for big money donors, by accepting the support of some of the more ostentatious plutocrats on the Napa development scene. The Hall's money and ambitions have pushed every wrong button here for those who have treasured the laid-back rural character of the county now spoiled by the greed, vanity and building projects of a generation of wealthy developers wanting to retire into a life of good-life entrepreneurship.

Without knowing our local politics, Ms. Warren has still managed, in challenging Buttigieg on his fundraising strategy, to voice exactly the resentment that many Napa residents have for a wealthy elite whose own interests, schemes and visions of a more profitable (and populous) future end up being imposed on us all.

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