By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If you’re looking for a way to tell blue from red this November among candidates for local, non-partisan offices, the first key to party preferences came in a list of endorsements issued this week.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party threw its support behind more than 20 candidates in races for local office and announced the party’s stance on some local ballot measures.
Among the local races, the top-of-the-ballot endorsement — for the 1st District county supervisor’s seat — went to Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin. She is facing off against rival Santa Rosa councilmember John Sawyer in a closely watched contest for the seat held by retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown.
The endorsement means Gorin’s campaign will get $1,000 from the party, be able to use the party logo in her mailers and posters and be able to take advantage of canvassing and logistical support from the party headquarters in Santa Rosa.
The same support extends to those endorsed in city government races, though party contributions to their campaigns top out at $100.
The party reported endorsements in six cities, excluding Rohnert Park, Windsor and Petaluma. Democratic officials said they expect to make endorsements for the Petaluma City Council later this month, after completion of candidate interviews. Races in Rohnert Park and Windsor were uncontested, so the cities canceled those elections.
For Santa Rosa City Council, the party backed incumbent Gary Wysocky and newcomers Caroline Banuelos, Erin Carlstrom and Julie Combs.
In Cotati, endorsements went to incumbents John Dell’Osso and Susan Harvey and challenger Wendy Skillman.
In Sebastopol, the party endorsed Councilwoman Kathleen Schaffer and Robert Jacob, a medical marijuana dispensary operator making his first bid for elected office.
In Sonoma, the party backed Councilwoman Laurie Gallian and candidate Madolyn Agrimonti. In Healdsburg it endorsed Councilman Tom Chambers and in Cloverdale it backed Mary Ann Brigham, a former councilwoman.
Party leaders also handed out endorsements for Democratic incumbents in four state races and backed frontrunners in the two congressional races, although those moves only mirror decisions made by the state party.
The endorsements went to state Assembly incumbents Michael Allen, Wes Chesbro and Mariko Yamada and to state Sen. Lois Wolk.
In one congressional race, the party backed Rep. Mike Thompson for re-election. In the other, to replace retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, it supported Jared Huffman, the state assemblyman making a bid to represent a newly formed North Coast district.
The party backed incumbents Laura Gonzalez and Larry Haenel and candidate Jenni Klose for board seats overseeing Santa Rosa City Schools.
Other school district endorsements included: incumbents Yvone Kennedy and Debra Mills (Bellevue Union School District); incumbent Ed Gilardi (Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District); Matt O’Donnell (Oak Grove Union School District); and Cheryl Scholar (Sonoma County Board of Education).
The party backed three local ballot measures: Measure Q, the Santa Rosa initiative in favor of district elections; Measure V, the Healdsburg sales tax increase; and Measure X, the Petaluma parcel tax proposal to support park and recreation projects.
It recommended a no vote on Measure U, the Cotati initiative to ban traffic roundabouts.
The Sonoma County Republican Party is set to issue its endorsements next week.