Editorial: It’s time to cast your ballot
There are 20 boxes to check, which means 20 reasons to vote in California’s June primary election, from who will serve as our state’s governor, to deciding our next Sheriff. Even the lesser-known political positions, like Insurance Commissioner and State Board of Equalization, are worth brushing up on. Voting is the most Democratic thing we can do, especially for the rare, well-informed resident who takes the time to understand the benefits and pitfalls of each candidate and measure.
Primaries are the red-headed stepchild of America’s elections. They always receive less attention, fewer votes, despite being Ground Zero for our political structure. It’s where it all starts, where the field is narrowed and the first round of choices are often determined.
“Primary election participation in the United States is consistently lower than general election turnout,” according to a 2016 Yale study on primary elections. “Despite this well-documented voting gap, our knowledge is limited as to the individual-level factors that explain why some general election voters do not show up for primary contests.”
So consider this a call to action -- you have until June 7 to let your voice be heard. The results of Tuesday’s election will have long lasting consequences on the local, county and state level, so it’s worth taking the time to do the research. Especially on these four local races.
2nd District Supervisor
Seemingly, no one politician has more influence on the county dollars that flow to our city than the Supervisor, who coordinates with the local officials, along with county and state offices, on everything from roads to climate change. They are our voice as the county divvies up its $2 billion annual budget. Incumbent David Rabbitt is seeking his fourth term, with political career highlights like helping to finalize the widening of Highway 101. Challenger Blake Hooper, a longtime staffer for Congressman Jared Huffman, brings a unique perspective as a renter and promises a slew of state connections. Kevin Hayenga, a longtime television journalist, is running as an outsider, accepting no contributions in this big-money race.
Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner
Here in Petaluma, the Sheriff’s Department oversees our unincorporated areas, like Two Rock and Penngrove. Decisions about our law enforcement’s $211 million budget, staffing of 625 people and community protocols all flow through this office. Eddie Engram touts his decades of law enforcement experience, including 20 years in Sonoma County. Former sergeant Carl Tennenbaum’s established himself as a darling of the progressives, focused on law enforcement reform and citizen oversight. Dave Edmonds has 28 years with the department before he left in 2013 to write about law enforcement.
Superintendent of Schools
Overseeing Sonoma County’s 40 school district is no small feat. Especially in the wake of the learning loss suffered in the pandemic, when many teachers burned out, administrators became frazzled and students failed classes at higher rates. Whoever steps into this role will have a tall order to fill, and that will take patience, creativity and ingenuity. The candidates are Ron Calloway, superintendent of the Mark West Union School District; Amie Carter, assistant superintendent in Marin County’s Office of Education; and Brad Coscarelli, principal of Hidden Valley elementary in Santa Rosa.
Superior Court Judge
It is rare we get to help select a new judge. The vast majority of judicial vacancies are filled by the governor, and sitting judges are rarely challenged for reelection, at least in Sonoma County. When they run unopposed, Superior Court judges’ names don’t even appear on the ballot. This is an opportunity you don’t want to waste. Glen Ellen attorney John LemMon and court Commissioner Laura Passaglia McCarthy are vying for Office No. 6, while Santa Rosa attorney Oscar Pardo and Healdsburg attorney Joe Passalacqua are running for one of the open seats, labeled Office No. 9.
Who you vote for does matter, especially in a primary when fewer votes are cast. If you don’t want to mail your ballot in, head to the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. W., which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until June 7, Election Day, when center hours will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additional voting places will open closer June 3, find the full list at sonomacounty.ca.gov.