Election Wrap Up
Sonoma County residents approved new taxes for their library and upped the tax on tourists staying overnight, but stopped just short of passing new funds for the county’s park system. A whopping 81 percent approved extending and expanding the county’s Community Separators that provide greenbelts around cities and encourage vertical growth rather than sprawl.
School bonds enjoyed a high level of support this year, with all seven on the ballot passing. The Sonoma Valley Unified School District Bond passed with 68.8 percent of the vote. It will provide $120 million specifically targeted to physical improvements at the District’s high school, two middle schools, four elementary and two charter schools. Glen Ellen’s Dunbar Elementary School is included in the district.
Sonoma County’s Registrar of Voters, William Rousseau, (also the county’s Clerk-Recorder-Assessor), said that when the remaining 68,000 last-minute votes and provisional votes are counted, the total voting rate will be about 85 percent. Forty people are working every day, including holidays and weekends, to finish the count by the Dec. 6 deadline to certify the statewide results.
Locally, Gina Cuclis handily won a second term on the county Board of Education, while west county voters picked newcomer Lynda Hopkins to sit on the Board of Supervisors representing District 5.
Sonoma County voters pretty much voted with their fellow Californians on national issues, solidly Democrat, electing Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate and supporting Mike Thompson (5th District) and Jared Huffman (2nd District) for Congress. Locally, they are sending political veterans Bill Dodd (Senate, 3rd District), Jim Wood (Assembly, 2nd District) and Mark Levine (Assembly, 10th District) back to Sacramento.
Local voters didn’t agree with the majority on all of the state propositions. They supported indexing drug costs (Prop. 61) and repealing the death penalty (Prop. 62), but didn’t support fiddling with the death penalty procedures (Prop. 66). Otherwise, they voted with the rest of the state on the propositions.
The Transient Occupancy Tax rate increases from nine percent to 12 percent, and applies only in the unincorporated areas of the county. It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. This is expected to bring in an additional $4 million a year in funds that are supposed to address tourism related issues, such as road repair. Much of it goes to advertising Sonoma County as a tourism destination.
The 10-year library tax adds of a percent to local sales taxes and could bring in as much as $12 million a year, which will go a long way toward restoring full hours throughout the library system and performing long-deferred maintenance on buildings and infrastructure. While tax measures are seldom popular, this one passed with a 71 percent majority, with two-thirds support necessary to pass. It also goes into effect Jan. 1 next year.
How We Voted