WatchSonoma Watch

3 Sonoma County supervisor seats at stake Tuesday


Three of Sonoma County’s five supervisorial seats are at stake on Tuesday, with the race to replace retiring incumbent Valerie Brown shaping up as a geographic tug of war between Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley.

The three candidates for the 5th District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors debated last month. (Crista Jeremiason / PD)

Santa Rosa voters could play a decisive role in the contest that pits two Santa Rosa City Council members — Susan Gorin and John Sawyer — against four candidates from the valley.

And Santa Rosa’s influence also could shape the outcome of the contest between incumbent Efren Carrillo and former West County supervisor Ernie Carpenter.

In the third race in the heart of the city, incumbent Shirlee Zane is being challenged by Tim Smith of Rohnert Park, whom she defeated four years ago.

Oakmont, the retirement community on Santa Rosa’s eastern flank, is a prime battleground in Brown’s First District, with no incumbent running for the first time in decades.

Its residents are frequent voters, the type who dominate low-turnout primary elections like Tuesday’s, in which about half of registered voters are expected to cast ballots.

“I don’t think I can call anything,” said Brown, a former state assemblywoman who is stepping down after two terms as a supervisor. “There are lots of wild cards out there.”

Slightly more than half of the First District voters reside in Santa Rosa, which raises the possibility of Gorin and Sawyer emerging as the top two vote-getters on Tuesday and battling for the seat in November.

Both are known in the valley, whereas the four valley candidates — Mark Bramfitt, Gina Cuclis, Michael McClure and Joanne Sanders — are relatively unknown to Santa Rosa voters, said Brian Sobel, a Petaluma political consultant.

In any case, no one is expected to get the 50 percent plus one vote needed to sew up a victory in the primary.

In the West County race, the question is whether Carrillo, the county’s first Latino supervisor and a west Santa Rosa resident, can win outright on Tuesday against two challengers from the environmental camp, Carpenter of Sebastopol and Veronica Jacobi, a former Santa Rosa councilwoman.

The sprawling Fifth District, which runs from the west side of Santa Rosa to the coast and up to the Mendocino County line, has a strong green streak. Carpenter represented the district from 1980 to 1996.

But Carrillo, who shot from political obscurity to finish first in an eight-candidate primary at age 27 in 2008, is known for wearing out shoes walking door to door.

In the Third District, Zane is trying to fend off a challenge from Smith. The Third District covers central Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

7 Responses to “3 Sonoma County supervisor seats at stake Tuesday”

  1. Wilson says:

    @Accountable – great catch there!

    Wouldn’t it be amazing and wonderful if the PD did such investigating and reporting? But they never will because they played a major part of electing almost every member of the BoS over the past 25 years. And all those people elected to the BoS pushed their own agenda as well as the PD’s. And we the people have long suffered and unfortunately will continue to do so.

    I hope that I am proven wrong. Someday someway.

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  2. Accountable says:

    Kenwood Press has a great investigative article about how Sonoma County Supervisors are the best paid in the state for its size. They are paid significantly more than Sacramento, with 1 million more people. The claim that we have to pay well to attract good people is ridiculous, because the people we have are pretty worthless. Santa Rosa City Manager makes more than Governor Brown, and her job is a cake walk compared to his. Until voters demand the right to set public employees salaries, we will continue to have foxes in the henhouse and runaway pensions.

    Ballot initiative anyone?

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  3. Larry says:

    Before anyone votes for Carrillo, they need to take a drive out in the West County. I would guess that over 40 percent of the Elect Carrillo signs we saw this last weekend are on public property and should have been removed by county workers. If Carrillo wasn’t so busy collecting his $160,000 salary, maybe he could have seen to it that his signs were legally placed. Additionally, I think that there should be a penalty for the illegal placement of campaign signs and a time limit for their removal. There is already enough trash throughout the county now without having to look at what corruption can buy!

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  4. Thank you for Voting! The CA State Assembly should be about vision, goals and putting the people of Sonoma first above parties, money or groups.

    If anyone has any questions on the CA State Assembly race contact me at drgunderson@hotmail.com. Thank you


    We face tough challenges. I support: Shollenberger Park, pension reform, water rights for agriculture, and single-payer healthcare. My solutions include: certifying Canadian pharmaceutical websites for safety to save our people 50-80% of their medicine costs, have 25% of credit card fees go to our schools, decrease school districts to reduce overhead and require multinational banks to loan a percentage of deposits to local small businesses. I believe in a healthy environment that balances sustainability with job creation and business prosperity.

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  5. bill says:

    None of them are addressing the most important issues of our time. We need a drastic reduction of public safety expense. We need a total restructure of public pension benefits to resemble Social Security payouts that voters receive.

    We need to throw all of these people out.

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  6. 1st District Resident says:

    I’m sorry, but Brian Sobel has it completely wrong. To say that “the four valley candidates…are relatively unknown to Santa Rosa voters” only points out his astonishing ignorance of this race. Has he driven through Oakmont? Gina Cuclis signs predominate. It’s abundantly clear that the Santa Rosa candidates can’t even draw a majority of the support within a significant voter population in the city of Santa Rosa. To lump all of the Sonoma Valley candidates in one bundle, and write them off as insignificant, does a disservice to the intelligence of the electorate.

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  7. Billy C says:

    What this article failed to mention is the Susan is carpet bagging in District 1
    just for this election. You have to wonder if she moved in to Mike Allen’s place while
    he is doing the same in Marin.
    I would hope the voters are tired of the
    political alliance between the bike people,progressives and public employe unions. Time for a change indeed.
    Efren has done a good enough job to fend of Ernie I would think. We need a moderate not another environmentalist.
    Zane is in over her head in her new position but she has not done anything stupid ether. She will likely keep her job even though she is a supporter of
    the “SMART” train and other progressive
    agendas. No matter who makes up the new B.O.S. they will have a tough job ahead of them and a Constancy that will be watching every move.

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