Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Harbor seats won by Marks, Wilson

Incumbents holding in school board, service district races

Charles Douglas, Humboldt Sentinel


The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District dominated an otherwise sleepy off-year election on the North Coast in 2009, and results appear to guarantee continued power-sharing between hardcore environmental advocates and pro-development forces on the commission.

Arcata environmental engineer and ex-independent Mike Wilson appears to be cruising towards a second term representing the third district, holding a 72% to 27% advantage over former Dem Assemblyman Dan Hauser with 75% of precincts reporting.

The fourth district, an open seat covering most of Eureka which is being vacated by five-time incumbent Dennis Hunter, appears to be maintaining its pro-jobs tilt, with union organizer Richard Marks topping 47% support with 85% of precincts reporting. His challengers, lacking partisan distinctions with him between each other, appear to have effectively divided the enviro vote; architect John Ash nabbed 36% of the vote, while boatowner Susan Penn wound up with 17% in preliminary results.

The established order in minor special districts and school boards appears to be holding in what looks to be a very low turn-out for Humboldt County. Exemplifying this trend was the Area One seat on the Eureka Unified School District, where accountant John Fullerton rallied over 60% of the vote to retain his seat against his challenger, retired budget analyst Gayle Gerdts.

In the somewhat contested race for three trustee seats on the McKinleyville Community Services District, incumbents Dennis Mayo and Bill Wennerholm retained their seats with 22.4% and 21.6% support, respectively -- but in first place was challenger David Couch with 23%. Challenger Dave Varshock was within striking distance with nearly 16% support posted, while Penny Elsebusch received 9% and mystery candidate Jake Pickering garnering 8% in last place.

The only upset of the night appears to be taking shape in the Northern Humboldt Union High School District, which covers Arcata, McKinleyville and surrounding areas. While longtime incumbents Sarie Toste and Mike Pigg retained their seats easily with 29.1% and 28% of the vote, appointed incumbent and notorious local developer Dan Johnson, who lost in the same race against a teenager four years ago, is in deep trouble as of press time. In the final report for the night by the Humboldt County Elections Office and with 64% of precincts reporting, Johnson tumbled from his slim lead earlier in the night to fall 442 votes behind Dana Silvernale, who holds 22.7% of the vote to his 19.6%. Silvernale -- the controversial leader of the Humboldt County Green Party, which has seen widespread desertion and decline under her control after being hand-picked by Democracy Unlimited operative David Cobb and his girlfriend Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, the only elected Green left in office -- received some surprise last-minute backing from Arcata city officials disgusted with Johnson’s attempt to shove through a housing subdivision over the unanimous objections of the City Council.