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Candidate endorsements rolling out



If the campaign signs springing up around town are the most visible sign of the current election season, and the robo-calls and mailers its constant drumbeat, then the routine roll call of endorsements is the background noise.

While rarely revelatory, they are a signal to voters and thus a required part of any bid for public office, political experts say.

John Sawyer and Susan Gorin

“It is incumbent that you have them,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. “Do they sway voters? No. But they point voters in a direction.”

In announcing their latest endorsements last week, Susan Gorin and John Sawyer did some more pointing to voters.

The rival Santa Rosa City councilmembers are seeking the open 1st District seat representing Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and some of eastern Santa Rosa on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, Gorin rolled out an endorsement from Shirlee Zane, the Board of Supervisors chairwoman and the only continuing supervisor to endorse so far. (Supervisor Valerie Brown, the retiring 1st District incumbent, backed Sawyer last month.)

Zane called Gorin an ally in support of robust county health and human service programs, smart fiscal oversight and environmental protection.

“I think Susan is much better equipped in terms of her background, beliefs and decision-making,” Zane said in an interview. “I think she’ll be bold.”

Gorin said Zane’s support showed the backing her campaign has among county leaders and in the community. “I know I will work very well with her,” she said of Zane.

Sawyer, meanwhile, rolled out endorsements Friday from a trio of current and former Sonoma councilmembers, including Mayor Joanne Sanders.

Sanders made an unsuccessful bid for the 1st District seat in the June primary. She cited Sawyer’s platform on economic development, pension reform and road repair as reasons for her support.

Sonoma Councilman Tom Rouse joined her in supporting Sawyer, as did former Sonoma mayor Doug McKesson, who had previously backed Mark Bramfitt in the primary.

Sawyer, who like Gorin is a Santa Rosa resident, said the endorsements reflected “a growing base of support in the Sonoma Valley.”

By now, less than 40 days before the election and two weeks before mail-in voting begins, the list of high-profile backers for both sides — it is pages long for each — is likely almost complete, political observers said.

Among the names added this week, Zane’s could carry the most sway in eastern Santa Rosa, where many of the critical 1st District voters live, McCuan said.

“Zane is on the board,” McCuan said. “Her endorsement says that if Susan gets on the board there will be a strong working relationship.”

Sanders’ endorsement of Sawyer could pay off in a smaller pool of Sonoma voters, McCuan said. The three-term councilwoman is stepping down at the end of this year.

The larger list of endorsements in the two corners have few if any surprises, McCuan added.

Gorin has landed key endorsements from the county’s largest labor group, SEIU Local 1021, as well as its largest environmental groups, nearly all of the county’s elected state and federal officials and the Democratic Party.

Sawyer has support from the largest business and agriculture organizations, including the Sonoma County Alliance and Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Sheriff Steve Freitas, groups representing county law enforcement, and real estate and building associations.

The same battle lines developed in the last election for an open county seat, notably in the race to replace south county Supervisor Mike Kerns. David Rabbitt, supported by many of the same interests backing Sawyer, prevailed over Pam Torliatt, who had many of those now in Gorin’s camp.

“Past battles will continue to color this race,” McCuan said. That includes divisions between Gorin and Sawyer on the Santa Rosa City Council and standoffs between the opposing interests on the county board.

Key issues include the strength of land use regulations, county spending on roads, open space and economic development, and fiscal oversight, including looming board debates about possible tax increases.

In the coming weeks, voters will likely see the campaigns — and independent committees backing each — square off and go negative along those lines, observers predicted.

Several candidate events will ensure some of that tussle happens live. They include an Oct. 10 forum, sponsored by the Kenwood Press and the Valley of the Moon Alliance, at 6:30 p.m. at Kenwood School; and an Oct. 18 forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, at 7 p.m. at the Sonoma City Council community room, 177 W. First St.

In the meantime, any remaining endorsements rolled out by the campaigns may prove the only reprieve amid the onslaught of mud, McCuan said.

“Since so many people are voting by mail, it’s happening earlier and earlier,” he said.

15 Responses to “Candidate endorsements rolling out”

  1. Dan J Drummond says:

    I can tell you where some of John Sawyer’s campaign contributions were wasted. Last week someone left three large John Sawyer lawn signs on my door step. And yesterday my wife saw some of the same John Sawyer lawn signs in the recycle bin of a house down the road. My wife and I are voting for Gorin, so I’m going to also recycle my three signs. The John Sawyer supporter who left the signs was not very fiscally responsible of his campaign contributions.

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  2. Dan J Drummond says:

    There are only about 55,500 registered Republicans in Sonoma County verses almost 128,000registered Democrats, according to the June 5, 2012 election results on the Sonoma County web site. In that election, 70,000 Democrats voted (54.9%) verses 30,000 Republicans (54.2%). It doesn’t surprise me that Gorin has more individual donors, because she was endorsed by the Democratic Party. I don’t think the Republican Party has endorsed anyone yet, per their web site http://sonomagop.org/voter-guide-2012/. Based on these numbers, I think Gorin will win.

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I can tell you that the county safety unions are rubbing their hands in glee at the idea of Sawyer being a supervisor while the rest of the oounty unions support Gorin.
    Why, you ask? Because Sawyer gave the city safety unions a 9% raise and the rest of the city workers got a cut of 3%. Gorin tried to be fair to all employees in this and the unions respect her for it. Sawyer bought his backing from the city safety unions and he’s getting the support of the county safety unions too. What does that tell you?

    Also, Gorin is NOT ANTIBUSINESS. People can’t have it all one way or the other. Everything should balance out. Businesses AND workers should have equal say.

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  4. Time for a Change says:

    There is only one choice if you want the Board of Stupidvisors to move on pension reform and deficit reduction, a vote for Sawyer.

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  5. Terry says:

    Vinyl Rules,

    I stand corrected about your comment. My apologies; however, I do not believe Gorin is a friend of the environment because in order to maintain our parks, health and public services and make allowance for our infrastructure to be developed and maintained in an environmentally sustainable way, you must have money. For our local governments to have money, you must have a solid tax base which includes business and development.

    Look at how our local city and county governments have had to slash budgets for all of these things since 2007. What ever the cause of the crisis, the fact still remains that we need a healthy and robust economy. Gorin, and apparently yourself, put “developers” and business interests associated with the Sonoma County Alliance as evil doers. Such a small world view gets us nowhere fast. Because Gorin shares this perspective should give people pause when they consider their vote.

    John Sawyer on the other hand does not share this perspective. He seems to understand that we need a healthy local economy built upon agriculture, development, and infrastructure improvements. He also seems to understand the importance of doing these things in an environmentally sustainable way. Balance is the key, not a goose-stepping belief in control of any one sector (business).

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  6. Vinyl Rules says:


    I’m aware that John Sawyer did not support the plan to build a Wal-Mart in Santa Rosa. That’s not what I said. I said he was “backed by the people who brought you Wal-Mart”. That was more a sarcastic rejoinder than a statement of fact. Excuse me for trying to inject some humor into this cynical and prickly forum. Moving on…It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Sonoma County Alliance supported Wal-Mart. In other words, the people who back Sawyer. How is someone who is endorsed by all the environmental organizations-Susan Gorin-not a friend of the environment? That would be like saying Sawyer is not a friend to big developers. Clearly he is based on his prominent supporters. And lastly, why would you want a Wal-Mart in Santa Rosa?

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  7. Steveguy says:

    We need some jobs here folks. I would rather someone was supported by business in this time of pending Sonoma County Bankruptcy.

    Gorin’s type has brought us to the precipice. Plus she ” moved” to Oakmont !!! Has anybody counted how many nights that she has actually slept there ?

    At least Sawyer LIVED in the District !!!

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  8. Sandra Mehan says:

    Sawyer made a back room deal with law enforcement who are recipients of the biggest pensions around. Just like the Mayor who spiked his own pension. That’s why Sawyer is supported big time by public safety. He has obviously made them promises they like. Sawyer is owned by these guys. Wake up and smell the coffee.

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  9. Danielle says:

    John Sawyer was also endorsed by the Sonoma County GOP. True story.

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  10. Don says:

    No one on the BOS is doing anything about the pensions that are taking us down! Sawyer is at least talking about it! WE NEED JOBS Susan is talking about the wrong things at a time the county needs to help the economy! Sawyer = JOBS

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  11. Terry says:

    Vinyl Rules, Sawyer did not support Wal-Mart. However, he should have. Get your facts straight. Gorin plays lip service to reduced GHG, etc. She is no friend of the environment, only to those she considers her base. Gorin is a carpetbagger politician who has never met a construction project she likes. She is also not a friend of the agricultural industry. How can we have public safety, public services, good roads, and money to protect our environment without a vibrant growing economy. You can’t. There is a disconnect between her words and her actions.

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  12. sue says:

    Sawyer has my family votes, no votes for Gorin here

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  13. Wilson says:

    I wonder if the Sonoma Alliance (of soul-less builders and developers) will fund malicious attack ads against Gorin like they did Torliatt two years ago.

    They and the rest of those endorsers want Sawyer in the BoS to maintain the detrimental status quo that has existed in Sonoma County for decades. He’ll keep the unencumbered development deals and insane pensions and lousy roads and soaring water costs and the slow destruction of the Russian River firmly in place for them.

    Give me a thumbs down if the truth hurts.

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  14. Lilly says:

    Susan Gorin is bought and paid for (much like Shirlee Zane) by SEIU. They spent $50K attacking Sawyer in the last election, at one point criticizing some of Sawyer’s votes, BUT the PD revealed Gorin voted for the same things. This proves she cannot be trusted.

    Want the big union bosses to be in her ear to continue Sonoma County’s failed pension policies? Vote for Gorin. Want Sonoma County’s economy to unwind and become a no-growth/no new jobs county? Vote for Gorin. Want a supervisor who says her “heart is in the Sonoma Valley” BUT moved into a rented home in Oakmont while retaining ownership of her Fountaingrove mansion so she can move home after she loses? Vote for Gorin.

    Want someone who cares for Sonoma County, has actually been around here his whole life, ran a business, attended local schools and knows the place in and out? Vote for Sawyer. When he came to my door earlier this summer, he was a kind, genuine man and showed me he is passionate on meeting our challenges.

    I won’t buy into Gorin’s supporters false notions. BTW, Sawyer opposed Wal-Mart. Nice try…

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  15. Vinyl Rules says:

    Translation: Gorin is supported by the people who brought you Spring Lake. Sawyer is backed by the people who brought you Wal-Mart.

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