As I described in my Sunday column, we began interviewing election candidates this week. (To see my column, click here.) We’re starting with the six candidates in the three run-offs for Sonoma County supervisor. Today, we have Rue Furch coming in at 11 a.m. followed by Will Pier at 11:30 a.m. Valerie Brown will come in at 12:30 p.m. followed by Shirlee Zane at 2 p.m. We interviewed Efren Carrillo and Sharon Wright on Monday.
Unfortunately, we’re only able to spend 30 minutes with each candidate because of the sheer number of candidates in this race.
As I noted Sunday, economics has been the major topic of discussion so far, particular concerning the county’s budgetary issues and the need to reduce health benefits for employees and retirees. Each year, the county is short some $15 million in what it needs to set aside to meet its obligations for retirement benefits. The Board of Supervisors has decided to cut health benefits for current employees and retirees, which has become a major issue in this campaign. It boils down to this: Was it more important for the supervisors keep the county’s promises to retirees or to meet their financial responsibilities and balance the county’s books? Or, was there some other alternative that wasn’t adequately explored?
In the June primary, we endorsed Brown, Sharon Wright (Zane’s opponent in the 3rd District seat being vacated by Tim Smith) and Efren Carrillo (Furch’s opponent in the 5th District seat being vacated by Mike Reilly). But with run-offs, we traditionally do a second round of interviews, to give candidates a chance to tell us what we got wrong or what we missed. Sometimes we have changed our minds. It’s also true that sometimes the candidate we endorse doesn’t make the runoff.
On Wednesday, we will begin meeting with candidates for the Santa Rosa City Council. What questions would you like us to ask of the candidates?
– Paul Gullixson