Local elections go down to the wire

So far, Sue Frost and Measure L are the only clear local winners

As every piece of post-election data is analyzed nationwide, Sacramento area voters are also seeing just how divided they are on local issues.

Perhaps no race better illustrates the region’s political gulf than the clash between scandal-strapped Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Rep. Ami Bera, whose contest for the 7th Congressional District seat turned into a fierce fight at the ballot box. With ballots still being counted, Bera was leading Jones by a slim margin as of Tuesday.

If Jones ultimately loses, it means the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will not be appointing a new sheriff to helm the region’s law enforcement between now and the 2018 election, as Jones will hold onto his current position.

Jones is vying for one of the nation’s most competitive seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. His campaign found itself up against a deluge of attack ads rooted in the sheriff’s department’s documented issues with sexual harassment, alleged deputy misconduct and perceptions of a so-called “good old boys” network of management. Despite these narratives, many in the district’s Republican party are firmly behind Jones.

Bera’s been defending his seat under a different shadow, with his father recently sentenced to prison after pleading guilty for orchestrating an illegal funding scheme for Bera’s campaign.

On November 9, after the first wave of ballot-counting, Bera lead Jones by some 2,000 votes. Jones issued a statement saying the race was too close to call because of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots that remain to be counted. On November 14, after an additional 36,000 votes had been tallied, Bera’s lead increased by about 500 votes. As of press time, there were still roughly 100,000 votes to be counted.

Bera told SN&R that he was confident of a victory. “In the last two elections I’ve come back from behind the morning after voting day. So this is different in a good way,” Bera said.

If Jones does pull off an upset, newly elected District 4 County Supervisor Sue Frost will be on the hunt for his replacement. Frost, a Citrus Heights councilwoman who’s been linked to the tea party, beat Folsom architect and energy consultant Mike Kozlowski by more than 7,000 votes to replace outgoing Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan. Kozlowski had been officially backed by MacGlashan in the contest, along with the Sacramento Deputy Sheriff’s Association and Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

Tab Berg, who is currently heading up the transition team for Frost, said his candidate overcame a fundraising disadvantage.

“A lot of the big corporations were lining up on the other side, but she focused on local partnerships,” Berg told SN&R. “Her priorities for the first few months are tackling homelessness and mental illness.”

Sacramento’s disabled residents had little to cheer for, meanwhile, after the county’s transportation tax failed to grab the required two-thirds majority vote. Measure B would have raised local sales tax by a half-cent in order to repair local roads and highways and re-invest in public transportation. It would have also reportedly doubled the number of mobility devices on public buses and trains for the disabled.

The city of Sacramento’s Measure L was a different story. Measure L needed only a simple majority to pass and made it across the finish line by grabbing 53 over 46 percent of the vote. Measure L creates an independent political redistricting commission for deciding which neighborhoods are represented by which city council seats. The push to forge the commission was spurred by years of feuding between former and current council members about whether certain voting districts were gerrymandered to protect politicians or dilute the organizing power of marginalized communities. In July, the city council attempted to end the acrimony by unanimously passing a resolution to put an independent redistricting commission in front of voters. Billed as Measure L, the initiative to finalize the commission enjoyed almost as much direct support from the public as it did from elected officials.

Sacramento District 6 Councilman Steven Hansen praised Measure L’s passing.

“Measure L is another step toward better governance in Sacramento, where the voters chose their elected officials rather than the other way around,” Hansen said this week. “It’s an innovation a lot of other cities are doing and it was time for Sacramento to join the crowd.”