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How to sabotage a supervisor campaign

Jeff Ackerman, Publisher
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Mark Twain reminded us to never let facts get in the way of a good story.

The same apparently holds true for opinions.

As expected, the letters have already started arriving accusing us of rigging the election.



“Congratulations,” one letter began. “Your sabotage of the Izzy Martin campaign proved very effective.”

Another suggested the “good old boys” have returned to The Union.




While it’s flattering to think we are capable of pulling the wool over the eyes of the more than 4,500 voters who chose Martin’s opponent, Robin Sutherland, we really can’t take the credit.

Perhaps there’s a slight chance those voters were smart enough to decide on their own who they wanted to represent them on the Board of Supervisors. I’ve met lots and lots of smart people down in District 4 and none of them asked me who they should vote for. Not a single one. Not even by e-mail. Not even at the supermarket.

But for the sake of argument, let’s just say we wanted to influence the election in Sutherland’s favor.

Where to begin….

I got it! We probably wouldn’t have run those three cartoons that made Robin look like a fat buffoon. That wasn’t really very smart of us, since we wanted Robin to win and all.

Then there were those nasty columns we published on the Opinion pages where Sutherland was called a financial moron and someone who was bought and paid for by “outside interests,” whatever that means. I thought all of the “outside interests” had already moved here.

Shoot. Why in the heck did we run those darned things?

The icing on the cake were those front page pieces we published wherein some group called the San Juan Ridge Homeowners Association accused contractors of “laundering money” to Sutherland. That one was so good Izzy even used it in a direct mail piece.

“Gosh darnit!” I told my newsroom the next day. “Can’t you guys ever act like good old boys? Where are those cigars? And get those suspenders up on your shoulders where they belong!”

Good help is tough to find these days. They wouldn’t even wear the SUTHERLAND ISN’T NH2020″ buttons I handed out with their paychecks a week before the election.

Bunch of independent thinkers.

According to one letter, we’re in the developers’ pockets.

In my dreams. We’ve been trying to get our lobby developed for five years now. It took a week for me to get a plumber over to look at my water heater, for cryin’ out loud.

I can fix an election, but I can’t seem to get hot water out of my shower.

Then there were all of those pro-Martin letters to the editor. There’s no law that said we had to publish them, and I could just kick myself for doing so.

“Didn’t you guys read the memo?” I scolded the editors. “It says right there, just under the paragraph about parking in my spot and leaving stinky food in the lunch room refrigerator: ‘NEVER, EVER RUN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR THAT SUPPORT IZZY!'”

I pay these guys to follow direction, for Pete’s sake. Unbelievable.

Finally, there were the allegations that Sutherland bought the election. “Highest bidder wins,” one read. “Why don’t we simply auction off political offices?”

Well…hate to spoil the accounting party, but last time I checked Izzy was out-spending Sutherland nearly two to one (somewhere around $52 per vote). In fact, by the time the calculators are unplugged, Izzy may have set a new record in campaign spending for a Nevada County Board of Supervisors race.

But those are mere facts.

There’s no doubt there are others out there waiting for the outcome of the Drew Bedwell/Bruce Conklin nailbiter to be settled so they can fire off their obligatory nasty notes. If Conklin wins we’ll be accused by Bedwell supporters of being in the pockets of Gray Davis. If Conklin wins we’ll be accused of the same things we’re being accused of now, only twice.

Maybe they’ll finish in a tie and we’ll get to start all over from scratch. That would be a hoot, eh? Or, maybe they’d even have to share the board seat for the next four years. Can you image how much fun that would be to watch?

“It’s my turn to vote, Drew.”

“Shut up, Bruce. You just voted.”

Meanwhile, let’s leave the facts alone. They just get in the way.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,


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