The latest solution to Sonoma County’s garbage situation is a 20-year contract worth more than half a billion dollars that would outsource operations of the solid waste system.
It would give control of the county’s troubled 42-year-old central landfill west of Cotati to an Arizona company with $8 billion in annual revenue. But it would keep the site, and the county’s five waste transfer stations, in public ownership.
The proposal is being called the largest public-private business deal in county history and is headed to the Board of Supervisors for the first time Tuesday.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane held a comfortable lead over challenger Tim Smith on Tuesday night in her bid to secure a second term representing Sonoma County’s 3rd Supervisorial District. With mail-in ballots counted, the first-term incumbent received 62 percent of the vote versus Smith’s 37 percent. Though only a portion of the total vote, absentee ballots are often a reliable barometer of the final outcome of a race.
Look at the numbers. These early results represent 24.6 percent of the turnout. That’s nearly half of the votes that are expected to be cast in this election. Opponents of these candidates have some catching up to do if there’s going to be a change in these supervisorial races.
County-employee pensions have taken center stage in the race for the Sonoma County’s 3rd supervisorial district, with incumbent Shirlee Zane touting her leadership on the issue as her opponent accuses her and the board of foot-dragging and proposing “cosmetic” changes that won’t solve the problem.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo has raised far more money than his two challengers and all other candidates vying for local elected office, newly disclosed campaign finance records show. Facing the surprise challenge of a former supervisor, Carrillo, 31 and nearing his first full term in office, gunned his campaign into action, raising in just two months $92,322 and spending $95,406. He still has $73,566 in the bank, records covering March 18 through May 19 show. The activity dwarfs that of his that two opponents, former 5th District Supervisor Ernie Carpenter and former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi.
Tim Smith knows his campaign to unseat 3rd District Supervisor Shirlee Zane is a long shot. He got into the race late. He doesn’t have much money or major endorsements. And his track record isn’t great — he was one of the candidates Zane beat out for the seat in 2008. Despite these challenges, Smith hopes his modest campaign and will fuel further public debate about whether Sonoma County is doing enough to control its ballooning pension costs.
The first debate in the 3rd District supervisorial race Tuesday night featured incumbent Shirlee Zane confidently defending her leadership record against accusations from challenger Tim Smith that she hasn’t done enough to solve the county’s pension crisis. The spirited but civil debate touched on a range of issues, from funding for roads, transparency in government contracts, the SMART train and economic development.
Gary Wysocky says he won’t be running against Shirlee Zane in the race for the Board of Supervisors. For the moment, that leaves the race between just two people. The filing deadline is Friday.
Former Rohnert Park Councilman Tim Smith plans to challenge Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane for her Santa Rosa-centered seat in the June election. Smith, 57, ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd District supervisor’s seat in 2008, placing third in a June primary, behind Sharon Wright and Zane, who went on to claim the seat in November.
In 2002, at the urging of labor and with the endorsement of management, the county Board of Supervisors approved a more generous set of pension benefits for all current workers. The change, fueled by salary increases and combined with other workforce trends, is now seen as driving the upward spiral in pension costs.