I wanted to take a moment to inform the ECA membership of the process we take to find, work with, interview, educate, and finally choose whether to endorse and/or donate money and resources to their campaign to get them elected. The Board of Directors listened to the recommendations by the Government Affairs Committee (Jeff Okrepkie, Art Deicke, Dale Mahoney, Dave Weller, and newest ECA member Ross Liscum). The Board voted unanimously on the slate of candidates, on whether to support or oppose or take no position on candidates/local ballot measures/State ballot measures, and the Board voted unanimously on the amounts of dollars to contribute and to which candidate. Since the PAC is funded by all of you, (the ECA PAC has over $23,000 in it now, and with all of the campaign checks approved by the Board on 9-15-20, we will spend $4,500 to candidates, and $7,500 to Measure DD, for a total of $12,000 which is about half of our existing balance in our PAC Account. I think it only fair to inform you of the process, what we are looking for in candidates, and to allow you. So, if you will indulge me—
The ECA asks no candidate to sign any sort of “pledge”. In fact, we have a policy that basically says if a candidate reveals that he/she has in fact pledged to support ANY special interest group by virtue of signing a pledge to vote on a future issue in any preconditioned way, the ECA will take that into account in considering to endorse that candidate. That’s a long-winded way of saying “pledging your vote is wrong”.
Also, the candidates we interview are from the County of Sonoma and from the nine cities in Sonoma County. I have, in the past, also interviewed candidates in Marin County and will continue to do so as time allows, but it is a time consuming proposition and the ECA would really like to find someone within the ECA that lives/works in Napa, Marin, and Mendocino Counties that would be willing to help me out and conduct the interviews. If we could do that, we could expand our Government Affairs impact dramatically. But, for now, we primarily focus on Sonoma County. We also do not take positions on school boards, Federal ballot measures or candidates, and rarely take a stance on State ballot measures (although we chose to take a position on the State Prop 15 which you will see).
The process: The ECA’s Government Affairs Committee works with several other Associations (all of which do campaign contributions) to discuss, coordinate, and jointly interview candidates each election cycle). The Associations that have participated in the past were NORBAR, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, North Coast Builders Exchange, North Bay Leadership Council, Sonoma County Alliance, and the Farm Bureau. This year, only four of those participated jointly (ECA, NORBAR, NCBE, to a very minor degree the North Bay Leadership Council, and as an observer only, the Sonoma County Alliance).
A Questionnaire (the ECA Government Affairs Committee has an opportunity to shape and ask questions that are important to our members on this questionnaire, as are the other groups participating), and invitation to interview is sent out to each City/Town Council candidate once the filing deadline is closed (usually early August for a November ballot date). The Questionnaire can be sent to you if you just ask Mary or me to do so.
The candidate chooses to fill out and accept the invitation to interview with the groups in one efficient session, or not. This year, invites and questionnaires were sent out to 52 candidates that filed, and 32 of them accepted the invitation and interviewed and filled out the questionnaire. The ECA GAC reviews the questionnaire before the interview schedule (interviews were scheduled for two days August 19th and 20th, and each interview is 30 minutes long. One of the Executive Directors of the four groups acts as the mediator for the interviews and each of our groups have between 1-4 of our members that participate in the process. We inform the candidate that each group is acting individually to determine whether to endorse or not, and that we are not recording the interviews so they can feel free to speak without reservation. We introduce all the participants on the Zoom call so the candidate knows who they are speaking to, then we give the candidate 2 minutes to express why they are running, then we go into Q & A that generally centers on their questionnaire responses and allows for some education about issues that seems to be needed based upon their answers. We stress that we are there as resources not just now, but throughout the campaign and if they are successful, we encourage them to contact us and ask us questions while they are in office so they can better understand the issues they are asked to vote on. It is a really effective process to establish a relationship with new candidates, and it is an effective way to recognize when the candidates have zero clue about certain issues (like inclusionary housing fees, project labor agreements, public pension liabilities, homelessness, etc.). The four groups work well and respectfully, and the candidates generally appreciate how civil and respectful the process is.
What the ECA looked for in a candidate this year:
- Will they do the work, read up on the issues, and vote to support the majority of their constituents regardless of special interest pressure?
- Do they support continued funding of transportation and utility infrastructure work?
- Do they believe in funding for homeless that primarily focuses on the more recent “homeless by circumstance” population rather than the group that is “homeless by choice”?
- Do they believe in working with private businesses and association groups to collaborate on true public/private projects that streamline projects that benefit the community?
- Are they in favor of fair and open competition for all qualified workers/contractors/suppliers that are funded by public monies?
- Do they have a clear grasp of what is important to their constituents?
- Are they supportive of removing obstacles to building more housing in all categories, not just subsidized (affordable) housing?
- Do they support and believe that landlords have the right to evict tenants for valid reasons?
- Do they support rent control?
- IS their City attracting enough business and quality jobs?
- Do they support either of the County tax measures (Mental Health or the Transportation Measure DD)?
There are other issues, but these are the main ones that seem to get the most attention. Based on their positions and answers to these issues (and again, we will provide you with their questionnaire if you simply ask us-we can email them to you), here are the summaries of who we endorsed:
Cotati: ECA Endorses Ben Ford (new candidate, Planning Commission background), Laura Sparks (new candidate, no experience in public office at all), Susan Harvey (incumbent Cotati Council Person, she is endorsed by the entire Cotati City Council, and although she does not score on all ECA issues, she is a backer of transportation and utility infrastructure work and has a history of supporting ECA type projects).
ECA did not vote to give any of these endorsed candidates any money.
Petaluma: ECA Endorses Kathy Miller (incumbent, big backer of transportation initiatives, and a friend to ECA), Mike Healy (incumbent, backer of transportation initiatives and utility work initiatives, and a backer of the ECA). Gabe Kearney declined to fill out the questionnaire and interview with us, so we chose to not endorse him.
ECA did vote to donate $200 each to Kathy Miller and Mike Healy
Rohnert Park: ECA Endorses Jake Mackenzie in District 4. ECA chose no candidate in the other two District races District 1 and District 3 (District 3 has Gerard Guidice running against incumbent Joe Callinan-ECA declined to endorse a candidate in this race because we could not agree).
ECA did not vote to give Jake any dollars as he stated he did not want any money contributions.
Sonoma: ECA did not endorse any candidate in Sonoma. This is due to the poor quality of candidates as relates to ECA important issues.
Sebastopol: ECA Endorses Diana Rich (new candidate, no political experience, but endorsed by all three incumbents whose terms are not up-that was very impressive to us), and Evert Fernandez (Planning Commission veteran and well known to several of our Engineers and Contractors with a good reputation for being a problem solver).
ECA voted to donate $300 each to Diana and Evert’s campaign.
Santa Rosa: ECA Endorses Jack Tibbetts (incumbent District 3, although Jack has a different view on Homeless issues than the ECA, he backs us up on infrastructure issues so we decided to endorse, no dollars), Chris Rogers District 5 (incumbent-Chris was not endorsed by ECA 4 years ago, but has sat down with me several times and we work well together on many important issues-his competition was impressive, Azmina Hanna, but the Committee and I were convinced by Chris reversing his positions from 4 years ago on PLA’s and funding infrastructure), Jorge Inocencio District 1 (Jorge is a new candidate and his questionnaire shows he sees most issues as does the ECA, and he was willing to take my call on Monday and discuss issues for about an hour on the phone, Jorge is new to politics, an electrical engineer, smart as heck, and willing to listen and knows he needs to learn a bunch-my kind of candidate!), Eric Christensen District 7 (new candidate, owns the building ECA is in, and I actually reached out to Eric about 3-4 years ago to try and get him interested in running, the homeless RV park in front of our building convinced him to finally run and he needs our help as his opponent has backing of organized labor, teachers, and SEIU as well as well known “left leaning” electeds).
ECA voted to donate $500 each to Chris Rogers, Jorge Inocencio, and Eric Christensen, no $’s to Jack Tibbetts.
Windsor: ECA Endorses Dominic Foppoli for Mayor (incumbent, current Mayor, and a decent friend to the ECA issues in the past and seemingly in the future-endorsing Dominic is a lot about not endorsing his main competition-Sam Salmon, who is definitely no friend to ECA issues), the ECA declined to endorse either Jeff Leasure or Deb Fudge because there was not agreement.
ECA voted to donate $500 to Dominic Foppoli’s campaign.
Healdsburg: ECA Endorses David Hagele (incumbent, and the highest rated candidate of all of them in my estimation as he sides with the ECA on every important issue, is a veteran on the Council with several other incumbents leaving the Council and not running we need a steady “friend” on that Council), Ariel Kelly (new candidate, head of a nonprofit called Corizon in Healdsburg, very left leaning but absolutely brilliant, energetic, and should side with us on the more important issues facing Healdsburg such as housing and infrastructure), and David Jones (new candidate, from the Planning Commission, and he seems a very steady and moderate candidate who sides with the ECA on most issues).
ECA voted to donate $500 each to David Hagele, David Jones, and Ariel Kelley.
Cloverdale: ECA decided to sit out the Cloverdale race due to candidates that were not aligned with our values.
State Ballot Measures:
ECA voted to take no position on all State Ballot Measures but one. Prop 15 INCREASES FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES BY CHANGING TAX ASSESSMENT OF COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
ECA voted to Oppose State Prop 15.
Local Ballot Measures:
ECA previously voted previously to support and endorse Sonoma County Measure DD, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, Go Sonoma Act.
This is the Measure that would continue Measure M and the ¼ cent sales tax from 2025 to 2045.
ECA voted to contribute $7,500 to this Measure.
There is a lot of misleading and outright false narrative coming from opponents to the Measure DD but the ECA is convinced we are on the correct side on this one. Not only does this tax not hit anybody’s wallet until April of 2025, Measure M has a 16 year track record of being managed by Sonoma County Transportation Authority who has secured matching funds from other funding agencies to the tune of 5:1 thereby making this the best deal going! The estimated $16-18 million dollars this would generate for road repairs, bike paths, and pedestrian paths would employ a lot of ECA people! Because of the wildfires of 2020, Measure DD is also very timely in helping to find alternative means of transportation that will reduce GHG’s and negate transportation impacts to global warming.
ECA voted to oppose the Sonoma County Measure O, County of Sonoma, Mental Health, Addiction and Homeless Services Measure Transactions and Use Tax Ordinance
ECA voted to take no position on any other local ballot measure except the City of Santa Rosa’s Measure Q, City of Santa Rosa, Sales Tax Extension. ECA opposes City of Santa Rosa Measure Q because the City continues to spend money without conscience and whenever they find themselves in a pinch, they default to asking for another tax measure to bail themselves out. The ECA believes the City of Santa Rosa needs to live within their means.
Bits and Pieces:
The website for Measure DD is up and running and we would appreciate you visiting the site, endorsing the Measure, and sharing the messaging on social media. www.gosonomaact.com
Thumbs Down Award: The group that includes NCBE, Santa Rosa Metro, the Farm Bureau, and North Bay Leadership Council, wrote a Rebuttal to the Ballot Measure DD and had to correct their false statements. Because of campaign laws that govern when Rebuttal arguments have to be submitted and how one can change them, a lawsuit needed to be filed in order to correct their Rebuttal argument for the ballot.
Sign locations: The Yes on DD Campaign, needs sign locations to mount “Yes on DD, Keep Us Moving” on private property. Specifically, frontages along Highway 101, Highway 12, and Lakeville Highway are desired. I know some of you have property along these roads. Can you please contact me with permission to have a crew mount a sign where you approve, and we will also take the sign down after November 3.
Finally, the ECA urges you to help Eric Christensen out by going to his webpage and endorsing him. If you can see fit to contribute some dollars, please do so. Eric would be a much-needed addition to the Santa Rosa City Council as he would be the ONLY ONE that is an actual businessman/woman on that Council. He knows what you go through and he needs support. Please go to www.ericforsantarosa.com and learn more on how to help an actual business man to good for the City of Santa Rosa!
That’s All Folks!