Editorial: No endorsement in District 2 supervisor race

Incumbent David Rabbitt has done much for District 2, but Hooper’s fresh perspective also has merit.|

About the advisory board

The Argus-Courier Advisory Board features five community members. They provide insights and perspective about Petaluma and southern Sonoma County. Their views, voices and experiences help inform our reporting and editorial positions, but they do not have a say in the final stories or editorials we publish. We thank them for their participation:

Lyndi Brown, community member

Dylan Chambers, community member

Eric Lybeck, community member

Zahyra Garcia, community member

Richard Marzo, community member

Three-term Sonoma County Supervisor Rabbitt is running for reelection against Petaluma Planning Commissioner Blake Hooper.

Kevin Hayenga, a freelance video editor and Uber driver, the third candidate running for the seat, isn’t raising money, but has raised some valuable points in multiple public forum appearances. Hayenga’s vision for the district and his understanding of the role was not as sharp as his opponents, but we commend his engagement.

We hope to see Hayenga’s name on another ballot (possibly in Petaluma) in the future.

To be clear, this race comes down to two very solid choices: Rabbitt and Hooper. The former has a proven 12-year record, and the latter is an eager newcomer to elected office who has fresh ideas.

In seeking a fourth term, Rabbitt, an architect by trade, points to a litany of accomplishments – from his efforts to rebuild the county’s crumbling roadways to his role in guiding the county through an unprecedented pandemic.

Through it all, Rabbitt has been a consummate statesman, a fiscal steward and the rare county supervisor focused on the good of the entire county rather than exclusively his own particular district. He has strong ideas related to regional homelessness and housing affordability issues, and is actively involved in regional transportation issues. Addressing climate change and broader environmental issues are at the forefront of his vision for a new term.

For this run of respectable service to south Sonoma County, we say thank you, Supervisor Rabbitt.

As a current staffer for California Senate Democrats, and with nearly a decade of public service experience, including as a field representative for Rep. Jared Huffman, Hooper is no stranger to the levers of government power. No, he has not pursued public office or been elected to a seat, but the 31-year-old offers a fresh approach, creativity and a demonstrated ability to build relationships.

Sonoma County voters, too, could benefit from Hooper’s valuable perspective, including his status as a renter, very few of whom ever rise to the rank of county supervisor. That experience would prove invaluable for the Board of Supervisors, which must take a leading role in facilitating the creation of housing – particularly affordable, workforce housing that ensures a future for new and long-term residents of District 2.

The majority of Petaluma’s City Council members support him, as do the majority of Sonoma County mayors who have offered endorsements in the race. Those relationships have already given him great insight into the problems facing District 2, whether that be the existential threat of climate change or traffic concerns in Penngrove.

Our newly appointed advisory board was split on who offered the better vision for District 2 over the next four years, and it’s clear voters will have a difficult choice come June 7. That’s why we’re abstaining from an endorsement in this primary race.

Our instinct is there will be a run-off in November, and we’ll be tracking the campaign even more closely throughout the summer and fall.

In endorsing Rabbitt, The Press Democrat Editorial Board rightfully cited his performance under withering circumstances – fire, flooding, drought and pandemic. Rabbitt helped make the SMART train a reality and Highway 101 widening is nearly under Rabbitt’s watchful eye.

The three-term incumbent supervisor has by all accounts done a fine job stewarding this seat for the past 12 years. He’s done wonders for the county at large.

It’s also true that in Petaluma, and beyond, voters have sought change, bringing in more progressive voices while ramping up expectations on elected leaders to be more responsive, more present and more creative in addressing many of the problems laid bare during the pandemic.

From the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 to the inequitable impact of pandemic-era sickness and response, equity, diversity and inclusion must be a central focus for our next county supervisor, particularly in the wake of the high-profile exits of key women of color leadership at the county.

Hooper and Rabbitt are both white men, a point Rabbitt circled during the recent Argus-Courier forum. Hooper has demonstrated a commitment to Spanish language access in community meetings and on his website, and important effort in a district that includes the city of Petaluma and its 22% Latinx population.

Rabbitt, meanwhile, voted to establish the county’s first Office of Equity, an important step in the county’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. He’s equally committed to this important topic.

It’s clear both candidates have strong support from large swaths of District 2 voters.

But we also believe either candidate would work hard to serve all voters.

About the advisory board

The Argus-Courier Advisory Board features five community members. They provide insights and perspective about Petaluma and southern Sonoma County. Their views, voices and experiences help inform our reporting and editorial positions, but they do not have a say in the final stories or editorials we publish. We thank them for their participation:

Lyndi Brown, community member

Dylan Chambers, community member

Eric Lybeck, community member

Zahyra Garcia, community member

Richard Marzo, community member

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor