Election is on, council decides
The election process will go on, Grass Valley City Council members decided Thursday.
The special meeting was called to decide whether to simply appoint the only three candidates who filed for the council’s three open positions or to take the decision to the voters. The candidates are Planning Commissioner Lisa Swarthout, businessman Dean Williams, and former Mayor Mark Johnson.
The City Council voted 5-0 in favor of doing nothing at all. This means that, by default, the election will be held in November. The decision creates a chance for more residents to enter the race as write-in candidates.
“The window for write-in candidates is from Sept. 7 to Oct. 19. The process is similar to the filing process for regular candidates,” said City Clerk Bobbi Poznik-Coover at the meeting. If there are no write-in candidates, the City Council could still decide not to hold the election at the end of the write-in candidate filing period.
Johnson said that he plans to campaign regardless of whether there are write-in candidates.
“I want to reach out. I am working on a flier and signs. That is the way you become an effective leader,” he said.
Williams also said he will begin going door-to-door to neighborhoods in Grass Valley this weekend. Campaigning is important because “we need every opportunity we can have to discuss the growth issue,” he said.
The decision to continue the election process was made Thursday after hearing public opinion. Both sides were expressed, with some urging the City Council to consider the lack of interest by residents to be part of city government. Others said they felt they had a right to vote even if the candidate list was slim.
Nevada County Supervisor Sue Horne urged the City Council to let the election go forward, explaining how she had won her seat as a write-in candidate. Former Supervisor Drew Bedwell was also at the podium expressing the need to continue the process.
The benefit of saving the city money did not seem to play a significant role in swaying council members to consider the option of not holding an election. Poznik-Coover said an election would cost the city at least $6,300 – the amount of the last election – if not more.
“I don’t think you can put a dollar amount on democracy,” said Mayor Patti Ingram.
Councilwoman Dee Mautino agreed, saying, “I think the people should have a right to vote, and if it is the money that people are concerned about, we will have some bake sales.”
Council members Gerard Tassone and Steve Enos were both dismayed at the lack of interest in the job and expressed concerns about a loss of interest in holding public office.
“The tragic part is that it is not unique to Grass Valley,” said Enos, who himself chose not to run for another term this year. “Politics, it seems, is becoming like a blood sport.”
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