Monday, November 08, 2004


Blue voters, red officials--no problem

The Press Democrat interviewed red voters and blue voters, and reported today why Sonoma County is so liberal and votes for Democrats (11/7, "Political divide"). It's because hippies and yuppies moved here in the '60s and '70s, and environmentalists organized to defeat the proposed PG&E atomic plant on Bodega Head.

The story traces the local liberal tradition back about 40 years, which would be to 1964--the same year that Barry Goldwater's candidacy kicked off the neoconservative movement that just re-elected President George W. Bush. The PD said,

"The movement was largely inspired by newcomers who recognized Sonoma County's beauty and fought to protect it, said Bill Kortum, a former county supervisor and longtime environmental activist. 'That was a huge transformation,' Kortum said. 'It really took the outsiders coming here to tell us, "You've got a great place. What can we do to set some aside and keep it that way?"

We were faced with another San Jose phenomenon. But we stopped it because the public had a value system that saw sprawl as the end of a very nice county."

The story points to voter adoption of urban growth boundaries to contain sprawl, and the 1990 sales tax measure that created the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. And then it talks about the growth that made us liberal Democrats:

"But the political landscape began to shift after World War II, and the transformation was most pronounced in the 1970s, a decade during which Sonoma County experienced its greatest population boom, growing by 50 percent from 200,000 to 300,000. Commuters replaced farmers and ranchers.

They were escapees from San Francisco and Berkeley, some hippies returning to nature and some Yuppies leaving the hustle and bustle of city life.They formed the framework for the county's liberal viewpoint that exists today, one that looks skeptically at a president with a background in the oil industry who led the country to war in Iraq."

It's a darn good thing all those liberal Democrats and environmentalists moved here and stopped us from sprawling like San Jose. Today the population of Sonoma County is over 466,000, and Santa Rosa almost 155,000. Santa Rosa had about 50,000 residents in 1970, and about 113,000 when the City Council adopted the 1991 General Plan.

But seriously, folks, I'm glad Sonoma County votes Democrat. Local Democrats voted against George Bush, and so did I. We elected Barbara Boxer to the Senate, Lynne Woolsey to the House, and Noreen Evans to the Assembly.

So what I want to know, is who the hell voted for Jane Bender, Mike Martini, John Sawyer, and Lee Pierce for Santa Rosa City Council?

Do any of those liberal Democrat environmentalist voters live in Santa Rosa? And if they do, don't they take the time to learn about the candidates in the non-partisan Council race?

The Sonoma County Alliance, the countywide lobby for growth and development, supported all four as a slate for the four Council seats. Veronica Jacobi--the only avowed environmentalist in the race--finished fifth, at least until all the absentee votes have been counted.

I want somebody to explain to me why all those blue voters elect red candidates to the Council and Board of Supervisors.

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