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Endorsement Watch: 2nd Senate District

Clockwise, from upper left: Noreen Evans, Joanne Sanders, Tom Lynch and David Rosas

Four Democrats are on the ballot for the 2nd Senate District, which stretches from Vallejo nearly to the Oregon border. The candidates: Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, Sonoma County Planning Commissioner Tom Lynch, Roseland school board member David Rosas and Sonoma City Councilwoman Joanne Sanders.

The Press Democrat Editorial Board declined to endorse any of the candidates on May 23. A copy of the editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right decision? Disagree with the choice? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.

Want to know more about each candidate?

CLICK HERE to watch a video of the candidates’ May 6 debate.

CLICK HERE for Noreen Evans’ campaign website.

CLICK HERE for Tom Lynch’s campaign website.

CLICK HERE for Joanne Sanders’ campaign website.

David Rosas is not running a public campaign and does not have a website.

PD EDITORIAL: None of the above
In race for 2nd Senate District, we support an idea, not a candidate

On June 8, voters will begin the process of deciding who should go to Sacramento to right the ship known as California.

This vessel is listing badly, weighed down by budget deficits, long-term pension obligations and an intractable political system that seems destined to produce little more than enmity and self-destruction.

Not long ago California was considered something of a Shangri-La. Now, it’s considered Greece.

One contest will determine a successor for Pat Wiggins, representative of the 2nd Senate District, which stretches from Vallejo nearly to the Oregon border. The race for the Democratic nomination features Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, Sonoma County Planning Commissioner Tom Lynch, Sonoma City Councilwoman Joanne Sanders and Roseland School Board member David Rosas.

Let’s be upfront. There’s little doubt in our minds that Evans will win this contest and will go on to win the election in November. She has the name recognition, having served in the Assembly for six years and having served as a Santa Rosa City Council member for eight years before that. She has the political support, having picked up the endorsements of most of the Democratic clubs and committees, labor unions, environmental organizations and fellow elected Democrats.

And Evans has the money. As of the most recent reporting period, Evans had raised more than $260,000, 2½ times the amount of Sanders, her next closest opponent.

But while Evans has all of those things, she has not earned our endorsement this time.

As we’ve stated in previous editorials, we believe this election is about fiscal responsibility, economic development and jobs. On all three levels, California is failing. The deficit stands at $19 billion. Statewide unemployment remains at 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, every new state employee hired is assured of retirement benefits that further drive the state into the red. Yet lawmakers refuse to do anything about it.

Although Evans served as Assembly budget committee chairwoman last year and was recently appointed majority whip, we do not believe she shares our sense of urgency in confronting these problems. We were particularly disappointed in her response to our queries about the state’s shortfall for meeting retiree benefits, now estimated to be upwards of $500 billion —six times the state’s general fund.

Evans argues that the state should not try to address the problem during an economic crisis but should wait “a year or so” and see at that time where the state’s finances are and what should be done to fix the problem. To us, the waiting time has long since passed.

Evans has not shown much eagerness to deal with the state’s pension crisis up to now. If anything, she has been more inclined the other way, sponsoring a bill in 2005 that would have allowed firefighters and police officers to retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final pay. Public safety workers may already receive up to 90 percent of their final salary, which is unsustainable as is.

More recently, Evans again came to the defense of public employee unions by supporting AB 155, a horrendous bill that would make it more difficult for California cities and counties to do what Vallejo did and seek protection in federal bankruptcy court to confront insurmountable budget deficits and, possibly, nullify existing labor contracts.

Evans’ main opponents in this race, Sanders and Lynch, both are more inclined to deal with these issues directly. But few understand the particulars as well as Lynch, a Guerneville general contractor, who speaks with passion about how the state is squandering the financial future of our children.

A self-described “New Deal Democrat,” Lynch calls for replacing furloughs with graduated pay cuts for public employees and supports pension reform at all levels. He is unapologetic in defense of the idea that a progressive political agenda and a desire for fiscal responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, Lynch has no background in elected office and, in our view, lacks the broader experience and vision to make him a legitimate contender for state office.

Likewise, Sanders, founder of Sonoma-based Bolt Staffing Service, is a champion of creating jobs and getting Sacramento off the backs of local governments. But we question whether Sanders truly represents the interests of Democrats, given that she only recently changed her registration from Republican.

David Rosas is a bright, clear-thinking local activist who speaks with particular authority about the needs of the Roseland area. Unfortunately, his current position as a U.S. Census worker has prevented him from running a meaningful public campaign.

During Evans’ time in the Assembly, we have praised her for championing causes such as promoting greater transparency in government, expanding foster care and protecting the environment and the interests of children and women. She has fought nobly to block the governor from closing state parks and making deep cuts in many valuable state programs, including CalWorks. But Evans says she sees her job “is to push back against the governor.” We see it as more than that. The job is also about setting aside personal agendas and rivalries and committing to help the state move forward by, among other things, addressing the root causes of California’s fiscal crisis — including the fact that it has made retirement promises it can’t afford to keep.

Those who want someone who has experience with the interworkings of the Capitol should support Evans. As we’ve noted, we believe she is likely to win this race anyway, but she will do it without our endorsement.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Senate district, we suggest none of the above.

22 Responses to “Endorsement Watch: 2nd Senate District”

  1. Major Anthro says:

    I would rather die than to vote for Tom Lynch. Ever.

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  2. ProgressiveDEM says:

    I met Joanne Sanders recently at one of her campaign stops. Not only was she smart and personable, she actually sounded like she know what she was talking about with the budget.

    Sanders has my vote.

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  3. New Poll says:

    The Evans machine is on the attack for a reason. Last week a poll was taken which showed Sanders gaining on Evans.

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  4. Beef King says:

    Maybe one of the regular ‘Progressive’ posters could answer this simple question…
    Why do you not have your own party?
    Just as the extreme christian right bullied their way past moderates to gain control of the Republican party, ‘Progressives’ have swarmed the Democrat party.
    As a moderate, I would feel better about your participation in local affairs if you were honest enough to create your own party without running over the established ideals of another.
    I believe moderate Democrats are the rule rather than the exception, and are best served by Sanders.
    So why not have your own party? If your ideas are so great, we will vote for you.

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  5. Beef King says:

    After more research of the candidates and their positions on the issues, I must throw my hat in the ring for Sanders.
    Her moderate views emphasize the correct approach to fixing our broken government.
    Extreme views like progressivism aren’t new locally, and have failed the test of meeting the needs of citizens.
    If ‘Progressives’ had done anything to improve our local conditions, Noreen Evans would have no competition for the job.

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  6. Beef King says:

    So I have received a challenge to my claim that FDRs’ ‘New Deal’ was a failure of gigantic proportion, and to supply a reputable source, well here is your link:


    Furthermore, the very sincere Tom Lynch offers us good ideas that are premised on his hard work (what else can he offer? Sac Dems are in no mood to compromise), and then concludes his statement by slipping in his pitch for, you got it, ‘Progressivism’.
    While some supporters say ‘progressive’ politics are new and should be tried experimentally on the unwitting populace, I maintain the principles of ‘progressive’ politics are seen throughout history and today in the form of communist and socialist movements and governments, and is based on a centralized government that controls information and thus the populace.
    This is as un-American as any philosophy can be.
    It didn’t work for extremist Christians in the 50′s and 60′s, and it won’t work for communists, socialists, or progressivists today or in the future.
    My vote is no on Tom and Noreen, and yes on personal freedoms.

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  7. Jim Sansi says:

    Noreen confounds me. She rails against cutting anything while increasing spending but hasn’t proposed one concrete way to raise funds to pay for it other than with bonds.

    This wait and see folly is just a way to hope things rebound and tax revenue increases to forestall the inevitable. As the church lady said “How Conveeeenient.”

    @Tom Lynch The government cannot spend it’s way to prosperity with any “new” new FDR/Hoover deals. If that where the case then why is there any economic disparity in the world?

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  8. Nasir says:

    Evans is the only North Bay politician to take money from Station Casinos of Las Vegas, the company backing the Rohnert Park casino. This information can be found on the Secretary of State’s web site and in Station Casinos’ bankruptcy filings, where Evans is listed. She is a schill for labor that wants to egt the RP casinos and maybe others built in our county. She doesn’t care about you, she doesn’t care about me or my children. I have neighbors who have already moved because they don’t want to live in a casino county. Why won’t she put her position on casinos on the Stop the Casino website? Because she supports them.

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  9. Valerie says:

    Rosas is a great guy. He should be elected to something.

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  10. Ron says:

    Excellent choice Press Democrat. Evans should not get an endorsement when she has nothing to offer on one of the most important problems facing the state. She says she wants to go to the Senate to fight with the Governor but he is termed out. Evans only represents labor interests because those groups pay for her campaigns..

    Sanders is great. How many years of registration does it take? Few people care about party affiliation anymore. Moderates or Centrists can be found in both parties and registering Declined to State. Who gets support should be determined on capability and solutions. Sanders is capable and has solutions to offer. She and candidates like her are why we really need to move to open primaries. She would appeal to a broad spectrum of voters in a general election.

    Lynch is also a refreshing candidate with substance.

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  11. Dirty Campaigns? Follow the Money says:

    Is this laundering or just a coincidence? Is Noreen Evans indirectly funding hit pieces in local supervisorial races? Since the disclosure forms are filed months after the elections, the donors are easy to obscure.

    A financial disclosure form 450 from the Young Democrats filed 7/31/2009 with the County Registrar shows a number of small donations made at a fundraiser held 3/6/2008 and two large donations made by Noreen Evans ($2,000) and Rick Theis ($3,000).

    The Young Dems according to this report paid Nick Caston an $800.50 fee and Valerie Sherron a $975 fee for organizing the fundraiser.

    Then the Young Dems gave the money raised to two organizations that appear to be Independent Expenditure Committees: Sonoma Young Democrats for Sustainable Environment $2,500 on 5/14/08 which has an address of 555 Capitol Mall suite 1425 in Sacramento CA 95814 reported on the disclosure form and the West County Labor Environmentalists PAC FPPC # 1311468 which received $5,000 on 9/25/08 and 10/14/08. The West County Labor ,Environmentalists and Democrats for Change is a “527″ organization which was established on 9/16/2008 http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/527/west-county-labor-environmentalists-democrats-for-change.asp and which has a legal firm in Sacramento with the same address as its contact (Olson Hagel and Fishburn LLP of 555 Capitol Mall Suite 1425, Sacramento Ca 95814) .http://www.olsonhagel.com

    Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP serves a variety of clients, advising and representing:

    Elected and Appointed Officials
    Local Public Agencies including Cities and School Districts
    State Agencies
    Labor Organizations
    Non-Profit Organizations
    Ballot Measure, Candidate and Independent Expenditure Committees
    Political Parties and Candidates
    Major Donors and Lobbyists

    Google the West County Labor Environmentalists and Democrats for Change IE and you’ll find Concerned Citizens also contributed $800 to this organization which was established on September 16, 2008. Between 10-1-2008 and 10-18-2008 Concerned Citizens donated to it but they listed a different address in their disclosure report to the City of Santa Rosa. They said the organization with ID #1311468 was located at 1708 Corby Avenue in Santa Rosa, CA 95401. See link below.


    So it appears Evans and Theis are largely funding hit pieces in local races through the use of the new Young Dems PAC. Who were the targets of the organizations formed about a month before the election? Carrillo and Wright.

    Evans former paid staffer Nick Caston is on the Young Dems Board of Directors and he accepted a fee for his involvement in the fundraising. Caston left Evans staff in January 2008 to become a political consultant working for John Whitehurst (who is a campaign manager for both Evans and Michael Allen.)

    Michael Allen reported he was working for SEIU UHW on the 450 disclosure form and SEIU UHW’s shares an address with the two IE’s that both the Young Dems and Concerned Citizens contributed to but the disclosure reports were completed by a legal firm that represents labor interests in Sacramento.

    Confused? Find this a bit circular? That’s the goal.

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  12. Shameful says:

    That’s just shameful, Tom.

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  13. D says:

    Did you not see that Evans is all about herself and her cronies! She doesn’t care about the people! She cares about every special interest groups. How could you vote her back in?

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  14. Dwimby says:

    Great. In this 2nd District race we have one full time political hack in the lead and three more political hack wannabes grasping at the detritus. And the incumbent crossed over to Looney Toon Land while in office and stubbornly clung to her desk. Is it any wonder California is a total disaster? We’d be better off just picking a name from an Iowa telephone book! Every one of these candidates has an agenda and it pretty much focuses on the self. Lynch might be the only one running who has a logical position on what must be done. But these are all self serving people. I say just leave the office empty. It won’t make a whit of difference. Not a whit.

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  15. Tom Lynch says:

    The New Deal I’m referring to is a New New Deal…though I think Roosevelt and the Greatest Generation did a hell of a job with the New Deal of the Thirties.

    It grieves me to see friends losing their jobs at the County, schools closing, services cut, and nonprofits being gutted when fiscally responsible solutions could help reduce the cuts. I don’t know how this works but I will try to attach my ballot statement below.

    Best regards to Assemblywoman Evans, Councilwoman Sanders and School Board member Rosas…I am honored to be in a wonderful election experience with them and look forward to working with everyone in reinventing a sustainable future.

    Tom Lynch
    Ballot Statement

    We are in the worst economic period since the Great Depression. To prevent further layoffs of teachers, police and public servants, along with the loss of essential services, we need a New Deal. I will work to replace public furloughs with graduated, salary based pay cuts, phase out double dipping and pension spiking and reform massive unfunded pension obligations paid by taxpayers and government employees.
    We need broader levels of engagement, working together openly and honestly solving problems with sustainable solutions. No new taxes without fundamental and significant Sacramento reforms! We need open and transparent government with full disclosure of contracts, salaries, benefits, overtime, hours worked and pensions paid. California must reinvent itself by leveraging resources, including restoring cuts to nonprofits and volunteer organizations. We must put more resources into education and less into incarceration.

    Favor: Term Limits, Open Primary ballot measure. Oppose: AB2113 legislation enabling Counties to impose an income tax. AB155 legislation hamstringing bankruptcy protections for Cities and Counties.
    As a concerned citizen and parent in the Second Senate District for over thirty years, I have demonstrated strong leadership in social justice, protecting the environment, developing jobs, and advocating improved government services. Formerly Sonoma County Economic Development Board, reelected member Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee, currently Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s appointee to the Sonoma County Planning Commission. My goals include protecting working families, women’s health services, schools, public safety and our environment and infrastructure with fiscally responsible solutions.

    Join me with your friends toward progressive change. Thank you.

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  16. John M says:

    Has Evans ever actually accomplished anything??? Seems like she has a lot of talk, no results.

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  17. @Beefking says:

    “The new deal didn’t work. It is well documented that his economic policies lengthened the Depression”

    That is laughable. Find a reputable source and post it on here to try and justify that statement.

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  18. Patrick Band says:

    Noreen is a strong, progressive voice in the Assembly as our member from the 7th District (Napa, Vallejo, Santa Rosa). Her main opponent is Joanne Sanders, a councilwoman from the town of Sonoma. While Joanne has been successful in running a small temp agency, the 2nd Senate district is a large, diverse, and often conflicted region that includes nearly a third of our California costline, some of our most productive and fragile natural resource areas, and many remote communities in desperate need of jobs and affordable healthcare. You wouldn’t ask an accountant to set a broken leg, and we shouldn’t ask Joanne Sanders to be our State Senator. Noreen has been a strong advocate for many of our issues, and will receive my vote.

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  19. Beef King says:

    I disagree with the editors that it is a foregone conclusion that Evans will be elected.
    After reading the editorial, it would seem that Sanders is the best candidate for the job.
    Her background and abilities are an exact match for what the editors said we needed.
    I know that for the PD to not endorse Evans is an act of courage considering the local activism, but if they are going to show courage they may as well endorse the candidate who best reflects their views of what the area needs today.
    I don’t know Sanders, but I do know Evans. And Evans has demonstrated that she will put party politics above the needs of Sonomans.
    No on Evans.
    Yes on Sanders. No matter what party she claims allegiance to, she doesn’t carry baggage, yet.
    And as for Tom, well the new deal didn’t work. It is well documented that his economic policies lengthened the Depression.
    So, no on Tom.

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  20. Anthony says:

    Pd Is SO WRONG on this. Noreen Evans has been great for her district and is the only politician strong enought to stand up to the Goernor and his hare-brained schemes. The PD doesn’t like her because she’s a progressive enviro who cares about workers…and not one of their Bosco Good Old Boys…where they really show their foolishness and complete lack of political understanding is when they call David Rosas a “bright, clear thinker” (!)

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  21. New Headline says:

    Instead of “PD Editorial: None of the Above” this headlines should have read…

    “PD Editorial: Not Evans”

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  22. Jim V. says:

    I like that the PD doesn’t just pick the lesser evil. But I’m also glad Evans won’t make rash decisions during a crisis and will take the appropriate time to make decisions best for a long-term basis rather than make panicked decisions that others are demanding. I don’t think Rosas deserves an endorsement because he’s willing to throw his hat into any ring… He would have ran for supervisor, but blamed Carrillo for taking his place, ran for city council and didn’t make it, and now runs for Senate… pick a lane. Sanders, yeah, if I were running I’d quickly change my party to Democratic, too. Lynch is making quite a jump from planning commissioner to Senate. Evans it is.

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