As campaign-weary North Coast voters head to the polls Nov. 6 — at least, those who didn’t cast their ballots early — some may feel area races have been extraordinarily quiet, especially compared to the contentious 2012 Presidential and Congressional races and previous local elections.
Based on candidate statements and literature, no matter who wins, no major changes are expected in the local board-majority opinions or directions, not even in cases where three of five seats are on the ballot.
So, what difference will local votes make?
Some candidates might represent minority opinions on some topics — for instance, Amanda Rice for the Cambria Community Services District and write-in candidate Steve Kniffen for CCSD or the Coast Unified School District. Both Rice and Kniffen are younger than most previous CCSD directors, and Rice could be the second woman on the board, if Gail Robinette also is elected to the post to which she was appointed in December.
Throughout the low-key campaign, various candidates have been visible at community events. Most have attended and spoken out at meetings of the boards they hope to join. At least one candidate has gone door to door, talking to constituents.
But aside from campaign signs and private events, there’s been little interaction among the contenders or with the public, a situation that has been noted, especially by some who’ve experienced personally the local election process.
Former county supervisor Shirley Bianchi said, “It’s been very calm this time — I have no idea how these elections will go. There hasn’t been any of the usual invective that seems to go along with, for instance, previous CCSD elections.” She mused that the relative calm might be because current candidates don’t seem aligned with “any long-term group with a perceived agenda that some voters might not agree with.”
So, voters may have to base their decisions on differences in the candidates’ personalities, experiences and philosophies, as defined during conversations, campaign literature and informal events
There’s been only one formal debate or forum held (for Coast Unified School Board candidates), and it was notable for the strong level of agreement expressed between most of the candidates.
Rice said she tried to get an official, sanctioned forum scheduled for the services-district race, but couldn’t get consensus from other candidates on a date or even on agreeing to attend. So, she sent out invitations to a “meet the candidate” event Oct. 23.
CCSD candidate Mike McLaughlin and director/candidates Gail Robinette and Mike Thompson attended, as did write-in candidate Kniffen. Muril Clift, a director who’s seeking re-election, and candidates Tom Gray and Kim McDaniel did not make it to the impromptu forum.
And, as of Wednesay, Oct. 31, Rice sent a notice that she’ll host a kind of cyber-forum at her website, aboutcambria.com.
Two other local races have been equally quiet.
• Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees has three four-year seats on the ballot. Candidates are Board President Cindy Fratto and educators Judith A. Hillen, Jack Mettier and Sue Nash. Most say they support the district’s current direction on such issues as looming funding cuts by the state, providing iPads for students’ textbooks, studying and homework, improving communication with community members and the importance of liberal-arts classes.
Current Trustee Robert Gong, who’s served on the board for eight years, didn’t run again.
• San Simeon Community Services District has one two-year seat open and two candidates seeking it, current Vice Chairman Ralph McAdams and Mary Power Giacoletti, a wood-smoke opponent who serves as environmental representative on the North Coast Advisory Council. While neither has done much active campaigning, according to district staff, Giacoletti’s ability to solicit votes was restricted Oct. 21 after a nighttime bicycle accident when a deer ran into her bike. Giacoletti’s pelvis was broken.
Cambria Community Healthcare District isn’t on the ballot this year. Board of Trustees President Kristi Jenkins and Trustee Barbara Bronson-Gray ran for election to fill two four-year seats and are exptected to be appointed in lieu of election at the December meeting. Diane Civiello, who applied to fill a two-year vacancy left when former trustee John Headding moved out of town, was to have been considered for the post by county supervisors Oct. 30.
Current Trustee Greg Bates didn’t seek another term.
A review of the required campaign contribution filings through Thursday, Oct. 25, show only candidates for the Cambria services district filed any reports of contributions.
Robinette, to date, reports raising $6,039.34 and spending $6,007.05. Her donors, in amounts ranging from $100 to $500, are James T. Clarke, Jeffrey and Dianna Fabbri, Michael and Sally Thompson, Dennis Zadell, Janice Newkirk, John and Lynn Carter, Shanny Covey, James and Pat Hopper, and Lynn Bowness. Karen and Timothy Chrismen have donated $1,000.
McLaughlin shows a total of $6,043 raised (including a $1,580 loan from Nancy McLaughlin) and $4,294.71 spent. His donors, in amounts ranging from $50 to $300, are Anna Mullin, Bruce Howard, Frank DePasquale, John Mullen, Dennis O’Brien, William Brown, Maureen Casper, Igor Fedoroff, Joseph Zenk, Cynthia Nakane, Carl Coffelt, Shirley Bianchi and Joseph Martinelli.
Rice reported a total of $3,267 in contributions (including a $1,172 loan from Kathy Seaman, her campaign treasurer), of which $1,907 has been spent. Contributors, in amounts ranging from $100 to $250, are listed as Dolores Meira, Mahala Burton, Mary Webb, Lorie McGuiness, James Barhinger and Diane DeMarco.