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Our Favorite Martin
Modern-day populist and/or cantankerous political Luddite Harry Martin ( March 2) lost his second bid to become Napa's mayor on March 3. City Councilwoman Jill Techel soundly defeated Martin in the special election, receiving 9,015 votes to the Napa Sentinel publisher's 4,740 votes. "To win, Harry needed the gray-haired clan to get out to the polls," says Bohemian correspondent Gary Brady-Herndon. "That didn't happen. Voter turnout for the county was only 38 percent." Not that Martin's going away--he still has two years left on his current city council term. Planning commissioner Mark van Gorder and community relations consultant Jim Krider won the two open Napa City Council seats, negating logistics specialist Chris Edwards' bid to become Napa's first openly gay city councilman.
Voter turnout was similarly low in Sonoma County for the special election, where nine out of the 10 parcel tax measures designed to shore up the counties' financially strapped school districts went down in defeat, unable to muster the two-thirds supermajority required for passage. Sebastopol Union School District's Measure B was the only parcel tax approved by voters--but just barely, with approximately 68 percent of the vote. Other races were equally close, with Rohnert Park and Cotati's Measure A losing by just 27 votes. All of the measures received simple majority (more than 50 percent) support, renewing calls to support a state constitutional amendment to lower the supermajority requirement currently being proposed by Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael.
Meanwhile, in Marin County, where parcel taxes for schools were already among the highest in the state, schools faired much better in the special election, with four out of five school-related measures on the ballot being approved by voters. The Ross School District's $19 million facilities bond--an issue that became contentious in the late stages of the campaign--was the only measure defeated. Perhaps the most interesting victory of the election came in Novato, where Measure A, an increase in the parcel tax similar to a measure that was defeated by voters in November, received a healthy 75 percent of the vote. The victory came despite the fact that that out of the 13 parcel tax measures on the Marin and Sonoma County ballot, Measure A was the only one to receive significant organized opposition.
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From the March 16-22, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.