Election Results 2007

The election is over and the results are in. I’ve put together a few colorful tables to show us not only who won and who lost–in terms of the candidates–but to show us who won and who lost–in terms of the interest groups and political philosophies of the coast.

In the election tables you can see the candidates’ names. These are ranked by the results of their vote. Blue background candidates have won their election, Green background candidates have failed.

In the next column you can see the results of the Montara Fog online poll and can easily compare those to the real results. More interestingly, I’ve displayed for easy reference stars to indicate endorsements from the variety of special interest groups and media sources here on the coast (Montara Fog does not endorse candidates for office).

In the text I’ll point out unusual or interesting results.

Midcoast Community Council

Of all the races on the coast this one was the quietest. There were no accusations of wrongdoing in the press, no over-the-hill labor organizations swooping in to support any of these candidates. And the Council which the candidates were running for was generally considered moribund: Council members focusing on minutia, Council members vanishing without a trace, council members boycotting meetings to prevent a quorum and thus any action by the Council.

But yet we had five candidates actively running for seats. They apparently see great potential for the Council.

Neil Merrilees is far and away the winner in this race. Neil is an unusual candidate for the coast in that he doesn’t fit neatly into one of the two polarized camps that dominate our local politics. He was endorsed by both the League for Coastside Protection and Put Community First (the political action committee philosophically if not legally related to Coastside Community First). He garnered nearly one third of the vote in this three-seat, five candidate election.

Endorsed by all sides? Won by a large margin? A candidate that ran on changing the way the Council functions, perhaps its very purpose? In politics that equals a seven-letter word: M-A-N-D-A-T-E. Congratulations to Neil.

Deborah Lardie, a newcomer to coastal politics (although not to the coast), came in a respectable second with just over one-fifth of the vote. There will be a few new faces at Council meetings.

Midcoast Water and Sanitary District

If you like dirty politics this was your race. We had two established incumbents pitted against a newcomer.

The newcomer, Richard Bulan, came with a lot of baggage. Chat boards and the Half Moon Bay Review highlighted his embarrassing financial gaffe where, after presenting himself as a wise financial steward of a fiscally mismanaged district, it was discovered that he hadn’t paid his taxes–or his water district assessment!–in several years. (His supporters shot back at Slater-Carter, not quite effectively, raising issues about residency and tax evasion (which turned out to be not true) to her own late tax payments–less than two weeks overdue.)

The Bulan campaign would have been better served by taking the hit and moving on rather than dwelling on tax issues.

Then there was a confusing issue about a business Bulan ran and a legal dispute over a URL in which the judge had harsh words for Richard.

Finally, there was the odd display of support (indeed, it appeared to be guidance) by political activists outside the district who are politically opposed to the incumbents and the so-called “slow-growth” or “no-growth” political philosophy that they represent. This in Montara and Moss Beach which just four years ago purchased its water system from a German industrial firm.

So the challenger, weighed down by all of this, and added to it the fact that he has lived on the coast only two years and this was his first foray into politics…he was utterly destroyed at the polls, right?

Out of over fifteen hundred votes cast he lost by only forty-five. Twenty-three votes shifted from Kathryn Slater-Cater to Bulan would have given him the victory.

That should give both incumbents pause and food for thought. I’ve met many people from all over the political spectrum who have strong feelings about MWSD. Most people seem to have mixed views: recognizing that it s a difficult, thankless task, in a general way agreeable to a slow growth philosophy, but at the same time frustrated by what seems to them to be abrasive personalities on the Board, and frustrated about inaction in areas where the way forward seems clear.

I was surprised to hear again and again about the Moss Beach Park toilets. This is becoming something of a lightning rod for water issues. I bet if Richard Bulan had run on a platform of Moss Beach Park/Moss Beach Park/Moss Beach Park then he would be in the victor’s seat now.

Fire Boards

The Montara Fog online polls did a great job predicting the MCC and MWSD races but were worthless as predictors of the Fire Board races.

The real winner here is the firefighter’s union, IAFF Local 2400. They put their time, their phone bank, their money and their organization into this race in the hope of stopping the erosion of their base by the rival union that represents the firefighters under CalFire (CDF Firefighters). The IAFF 2400 is feeling under threat from the expanding CalFire and has already been successful in pushing them back in Belmont and San Carlos. We’ll see what the future holds for Half Moon Bay.

Oh, what? Didn’t realize it was union vs. union? Did you think it was about “local control”? Firefighters keeping their jobs? Maybe about having a paramedic on every truck?

Who did you think was paying for all those fancy signs and mailers?


Charts by Darin Boville

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