*THIS INFORMATION BASED ON SEMI-OFFICIAL RETURNS REPORTED BY THE SACRAMENTO COUNTY REGISTRAR OF VOTERS.
Since 1992, no incumbent Sacramento City Councilmember has lost a re-election bid; on Tuesday night, that all changed.
The June 8 Primary Election was a defining moment in politics statewide: for the first time, the California Republican Party was running not one, but two women for statewide office, with Meg Whitman as the party’s gubernatorial nominee and Carly Fiorina as the GOP pick to run against Barbara Boxer in the U.S. senate race. Adding to this historic development was the local result – Sacramento City Councilmembers Ray Tretheway, from Natomas’ District 1, and Robbie Waters, representing Pocket-Greenhaven’s District 7, have apparently lost in their race to serve another four years at City Hall. It’s been 18 years since such an upset has occurred in Sacramento City politics.
According to semi-official results released June 9 at 1:48 a.m. by the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, both incumbents lost to political newcomers, Tretheway falling to Natomas grassroots campaigner Angelique Ashby, and Robbie Waters being edged out by Ryan Chin and Darrell Fong. Tretheway, who claims he was a target because he would not support Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s strong-mayor initiative, had been recently seen by political watchdogs as very vulnerable, especially as Ashby scored a number of major endorsements and political allies (Johnson being one of them). Waters, who ran twice unopposed (most recently in 2006), faced a tough fight of his own, desperately trying to fend off two candidates that were as equally funded and organized.
The District 7 Race
According to the semi-official results, Chin was the big winner Tuesday night, taking in 38.45 percent of the vote; Fong came in second with 31.41 percent; Waters, the four-term incumbent and only Republican on the City Council, garnered 27.44 percent; and college student Diedre Hobart came in a distant fourth place. With no candidate earning a clear majority, the results set up a likely run-off election this November between the first- and second-place winners, Chin and Fong, respectively.
Waters, who has served on the City Council since 1994 and raised more money and spent more money in this election than any other City Council candidate, was fighting a determined battle in his re-election bid. Challengers Chin, a strategic communications officer with Sacramento State, and Fong, a retired Sacramento Police captain, seized early on to the anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the U.S.
In their first public debate held last spring, the District 7 challengers came out swinging, saying that Waters was out of touch with the current needs of the district. Waters, for his part, pointed to a number of recent accomplishments, such as the building of a new library; however, the library issue had turned into a slight political misstep among some Pocket voters as the new building was named after Waters. Some screamed impropriety; Waters and his supporters have said the councilmember simply followed the wishes of library volunteers.
Also dampening Waters’ re-election momentum was news that his son, Dan, had been allegedly involved in a city scandal involving building permits in Natomas, an area off-limits to new construction due to persistent flood concerns. Although the councilman had no direct connection to the permit mess, Waters nonetheless appeared in a number of news reports discussing the situation and deflecting character attacks.
In a special interview prior to the election with Valley Community Newspaper reporter Celia Green, Waters had said that he hoped to serve one more four-year term and then retire from city politics. That retirement, it seems, will come early.
The District 3 Race
Although the Pocket-Greenhaven community saw quite the political upset, the District 3 race was anything but; Councilmember Steve Cohn, Midtown and East Sacramento’s longtime representative on the City Council, will remain in office for another term. The incumbent had faced a strong challenge from East Sacramento Chamber of Commerce President Chris Little and Midtown business owner Shawn Eldredge, but the incumbent persevered, winning his bid for a fifth term as the District 3 representative.
Cohn, who will now be one of Sacramento’s longest-serving councilmembers, garnered 53.95 of the vote, winning a clear majority and avoiding a run-off election in November. Little and Eldredge scored 37.73 percent and 5.52 percent, respectively, while candidate Jeff Rainforth garnered the remaining votes.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Race
A bruising primary election will likely turn into a bruising general election: candidates Scott Jones and Jim Cooper, both captains with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, did not win a clear majority of votes and will now face one another again in the November General Election.
In what has been one of Sacramento’s most hotly contested races, Jones and Cooper threw mud, hurled accusations, and laid charges of political impropriety and professional misconduct. The race has also come to represent a battle between two law enforcement legacies, as Cooper, endorsed by former Sheriff Lou Blanas, and Jones, endorsed by outgoing Sheriff John McGinness, attacked one another for their political connections as much as their administrative philosophies.
Jones came out on top in Tuesday’s race, but not by much, taking in 46.17 percent of the vote; Cooper came in second and garnered 41.37 percent of the vote; a third candidate, Bret Daniels, drew the remaining votes.
Sacramento County voters can expect the war of words to continue into the fall. The 2010 General Election is Nov. 2.
Sacramento Area Race Results listed as “semi-official” by the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters (winners listed in CAPS, % of vote listed in parentheses, incumbents listed as necessary):
Sacramento City Council, District 1
ANGELIQUE ASHBY (50.98%)
Ray Tretheway, incumbent (41.55%)
Efren M. Guttierrez (7.36%)
Sacramento City Council, District 3
STEVE COHN, incumbent (53.95%)
Chris Little (37.73%)
Shawn Eldredge (5.52%)
Jeff Rainforth (2.69%)
Sacramento City Council, District 5
JAY SCHENIRER* (47.04%)
Patrick Kennedy (34.32%)
Henry Harry (6.41%)
Terrence Johnson (6.04%)
Leticia Hilbert (6.00%)
*(As no candidate won a clear majority of 50-percent-plus-1-vote, Schenirer will likely face Kennedy in a run-off election in November, according to semi-official results)
Sacramento City Council, District 7
RYAN CHIN* (38.45%)
Darrell Fong (31.41%)
Robbie Waters, incumbent (27.44%)
Diedre Hobart (2.67%)
*(As no candidate won a clear majority of 50-percent-plus-1-vote, Chin will likely face Fong in a run-off election in November, according to semi-official results)
Sacramento County Board Of Supervisors, District 1
PHIL SERNA (71.60%)
Keith Weber (28.15%)
Sacramento County Board Of Supervisors, District 2
JIMMIE YEE, incumbent (78.05%)
Raymond Kemp (21.73%)
Sacramento County Board Of Supervisors, District 5
DON NOTTOLI, incumbent (70.01%)
Lovie Kirkland (29.75%)
Sacramento County Assessor
KATHLEEN E. KELLEHER (63.98%)
David A. Benson (21.60%)
Margaret Pennington (14.28%)
Sacramento County District Attorney
JAN SCULLY, incumbent (79.39%)
Julius M. Engel (20.44%)
Sacramento County Sheriff
SCOTT JONES* (46.17%)
Jim Cooper (41.37%)
Bret Daniels (11.77%)
*(As no candidate won a clear majority of 50-percent-plus-1-vote, Jones will face Cooper in a run-off election in November, according to semi-official results)
E-mail Ryan Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.