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Windsor endorsements make waves in north county supervisorial race


James Gore, a candidate for Sonoma County supervisor, has landed an opening jab by getting three Windsor Town Council members to endorse him instead of Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge.

Gore, a Sonoma County native who spent three years in a senior position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced this week that a majority of the council is backing him for 4th District supervisor. Some observers interpreted the endorsement as a snub for Fudge, who is also seeking the seat.

Deb Fudge, James Gore.

Deb Fudge, James Gore.

In prepared statements, Mayor Bruce Okrepkie, Vice-mayor Steve Allen and Councilwoman Robin Goble touted Gore for his enthusiasm, passion, energy and fresh perspective, saying he will listen to the needs of constituents in the North County and be a voice for Windsor on the board of supervisors.

“I’m honored and excited they have the confidence in our campaign and me,” Gore said Friday. “It bodes well for our campaign.”

Fudge reacted with a statement of her own that blamed ideological differences between her and some of her colleagues.

“I am proud of my role in building a new downtown and Town Green for Windsor. But the consensus that brought those accomplishments has been fractured by politics and ideology,” she said.

“My fight for more conservation and a greener town, including Sonoma Clean Power, isn’t supported by some of my colleagues whose vision for our town is less progressive,” she said.

Petaluma political consultant Brian Sobel gave Gore credit for scoring some early points in the race, which has five declared candidates and a June primary. If no one gets a majority of the vote in June, the two top vote-getters advance to a November run-off.

“He’s done a sensational job of picking off part of a town council,” Sobel said of Gore, 35, who is making his first run at elected office after seven years total in Washington, D.C. “What it says about him is: He is legitimate. He signs up people who serve with the competition,” he said.

On balance, Sobel said candidates prefer to have the endorsement of colleagues and peers “because in theory, they watch you closer than anyone else, know about the positions you take, and how you arrive at positions.”

But the endorsements may not mean as much, Sobel said if voters believe Fudge, 57, is more aligned with their thinking, or standing up for them.

“No doubt it’s a gut punch,” Sobel said. “In the bigger picture it’s something she can recover from quickly and counter with endorsements she’s got.”

That’s exactly what Fudge did, noting she has been endorsed by Sonoma County supervisors Shirlee Zane and Susan Gorin, along with state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa; former Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and former Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka.

“I’m sure my endorsements are unmatched in this race,” she said.

Okrepkie is a relative newcomer to the Windsor Council, having served just over a year, but he said he likes Gore’s “pro business” stance and involvement with agriculture.

“It’s not an assault against Debora,” he said.

But it isn’t the first time that Windsor council veterans Allen and Goble have endorsed an opponent of Fudge’s, who is making her third bid to be elected county supervisor.

Both backed Supervisor Mike McGuire when Fudge ran against him four years ago. Mcguire has decided not to seek re-election and is instead running for the state Senate seek being vacated by Evans.

Also in the supervisorial race are Healdsburg Councilman Tom Chambers, former Healdsburg councilman Pete Foppiano, and Keith Rhinehart, a former UPS supervisor and part-time teacher.

Gore, whose family is in the wine industry, returned to the area this year after leaving a senior post in the Obama administration, as assistant chief in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Allen said he likes Gore for a number of reasons, including that he is “closer to the moderate outlook on the issues.”

“I didn’t feel that he had that activist bent in politics. He had more of a nuts and bolts (approach) — how you’re going to make it work,” Allen said.

“He doesn’t come with a narrow personal agenda,” Goble said, asserting that Fudge has “marginalized people.”

Allen and Goble have sided against Fudge on a number of significant issues. For example Fudge supported the creation of Sonoma Clean Power, the start-up county public agency that will compete with PG&E.

Allen and Goble did not, and also were at odds with Fudge on a pay-as-you go water saving program.

Fudge supported resolutions on gun control and another on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit political spending by corporations. Allen and Goble either opposed or declined to vote on the matters, saying the issues were not local, nor deserving of the Town Council’s time.

(You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.)

5 Responses to “Windsor endorsements make waves in north county supervisorial race”

  1. Geoff Johnson says:

    Looks like little-known newcomer Gore (Ironic name, that!) may have a good chance of taking the conservative, wine-oriented 4th District vote, over “Progressive” Fudge.

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  2. Papa ESoCo says:

    Poor Deb, she just can’t get no respect. Guess I would vote for her if she were running to be “the chaser of canines”. Otherwise, “anyone but Deb”.

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  3. Steveguy says:

    Deb Fudge is a Bay Area oriented Progressive. The North County has historically voted a more locally oriented pragmatic person, like the West County has for the more hippy type folks, until the city boy that parades around in his undies late at night.

    McGuire has been an extreme disappointment. All smile. Can’t be worse than Noreen.

    Please help us up here, as Fudge will attract many dollars. From ” developers” even !

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  4. Don says:

    Deb is a perfect example of what is wrong with politics. It has been her way or else with everything that happens in Windsor. She has destroyed good people with great ideas and big hearts just because they are not extreme enough.

    Is this what we want for politicians in our community? She will be very controlling and will not work with folks that do not think just the way she wants things done! I would shutter to think what will happen on a county level if she makes it out of her little fiefdom in Windsor.

    Look at how she has split the community that she lives in now! Everyone that she mentions as a supporter is just as extreme in how they deal with the issues. Can we not elect someone that does not feel that everyone from the “business community” is evil.

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  5. Steveguy says:

    Deb Fudge has an agenda, and it isn’t in the public’s best interest. She is easily swayed and easily bought. She wants more than just a taste of what she has doled out to the ‘connected’.

    So far without knowing a lot about the whole field, Mr. Chambers is my vote for the job. I will actively work against Fudge, as she is just a rubber stamp for things like Plan Bay Area, etc, etc, etc.

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