By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRA
Supervisor Shirlee Zane cruised past challenger Tim Smith on Tuesday night, securing a second term representing Sonoma County’s 3rd Supervisorial District.
The first-term incumbent received 63.2 percent of the vote versus Smith’s 36.8 percent.
“I think it reflects the fact that the 3rd District voters gave me a positive performance review and they feel like I’ve done a good job,” Zane said as she celebrated the results with supporters at Chevy’s restaurant in Santa Rosa.
The results were in line with what many political observers expected, given Zane’s popularity and strong fundraising advantage over Smith, an attorney and former Rohnert Park city councilman.
Zane, 52, beat out Smith for the central Sonoma County seat in 2008. She currently serves as chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors and has taken a leadership role on issues such as the countywide smoking ban and pension reform.
Smith, 57, spent most of his low-key campaign criticizing Zane’s pension overhaul efforts as inadequate given the scope of the crisis facing the county.
The county’s current pension costs, including payments on pension bond debt, have risen more than 300 percent since 2000, to $87 million, and are expected to double within the next decade without any changes.
Smith argued that Zane and her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors have been slow to act, contending their pension overhaul plan doesn’t go far enough because it mostly focuses on lower benefits for new workers.
“I hope they resolve this before the next transit of Venus,” Smith quipped.
He said he was pleased with his campaign and the election results, especially given he was “outspent 10 to 1.” The latest campaign reports showed Zane spent $49,100 to Smith’s $4,200.
Smith said he was convinced his candidacy pushed Zane to take the pension problem more seriously.
But Zane rejected that, noting she co-authored the county’s pension overhaul plan well before Smith joined the race.
“He didn’t move me because I’ve already been a leader on this issue,” Zane said.
Zane said she wasn’t surprised by the number of votes Smith received, asserting that “anything more than 20 percent is a landslide.”
“I think he was catering to some of the fears and anger of some of the voters,” Zane said.
Smith agreed that many of the voters he spoke with are angry and scared, especially many of the retired county employees who supported his campaign and who worry that the costs are unsustainable.
Smith said it would be “disappointing” if Zane truly doesn’t take the issue more seriously.
“If all they do is implement their plan, it’s not going to work,” Smith said.