Levine joins Arbuckle, Swarthout on Grass Valley City Council | TheUnion.com
Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

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Levine joins Arbuckle, Swarthout on Grass Valley City Council

Some familiar faces will be sworn into the Grass Valley City Council, as voters re-elected the mayor and a former mayor, as well as the former leader of the Grass Valley Downtown Association who frequently addressed the governing body.

Mayor Jan Arbuckle, Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout and council newcomer Howard Levine finished as the top three in Tuesday's election with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

The trio beat challengers Jim Firth, Justin Gross and Patricia Tureaud.

While Arbuckle and Swarthout retained their current seats, Levine will take over Councilwoman Yolanda Cookson's seat, who is not seeking re-election.

Arbuckle, who was initially appointed to the council in January 2007 and elected in 2008 before becoming mayor in 2010, garnered 26 percent of the Grass Valley vote, the most among the winners.

"It's totally unexpected to me. I never would have thought I would have gotten the most votes," Arbuckle said. "I hope it's because I am doing a good job."

Swarthout, owner of Mill Street Clothing Co. in downtown Grass Valley, took second place with 23 percent of the votes. With 20 percent of votes cast, Levine topped the contending candidates.

"I'm humbled and honored," Levine said Tuesday evening. "After all these years, it is a strange feeling to be one of the five people who lead the city."

Most formidable among the contenders falling short was Firth, chairman of the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee with three decades of experience as a union negotiator, who garnered 17 percent of the votes. Firth had the largest war chest heading into Election Day. He brought in more than $5,500 in campaign contributions, which was $4,000 more than any other candidate, according to campaign finance disclosure documents filed with Grass Valley Oct. 29.

Levine raised the second most among the six candidates with $1,370 in total campaign contributions as of Oct. 20, according to his campaign finance documents.

Arbuckle, a retired Sacramento County deputy sheriff, brought in under $1,000, while Swarthout, Tureaud and Gross were not required to file campaign finances disclosures because they did not receive campaign contributions.

Gross, a voice actor, captured 8 percent of Grass Valley's votes, while Teruaud, a former manager at a rental car company, finished last with 5 percent of the votes, according to preliminary voting figures.

Levine will be sworn in, along with the two returning councilwomen, at the governing body's first meeting in December for their four-year terms. Sitting council members Dan Miller and Jason Fouyer will be up for re-election in 2014.

At its second meeting, the council will select a new mayor and vice mayor, Arbuckle said. Traditionally, the current vice mayor, Miller, ascends to top post, and the council elects a replacement vice mayor, she said.

The council members have no shortage of issues to deal with in the coming years.

Since 2007, Grass Valley's general fund budget has declined from $12.5 million to approximately $10 million today, resulting in the equivalent of reducing 39 full-time city employees, including nine police staff and 2.5 firefighters.

With Tuesday's passage of Measure N, the city's half-percent sales tax initiative, Grass Valley has the task of allocating the revenue it will raise.

Swarthout could not be reached by phone late Tuesday evening.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.