Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Race for the Third

news campaignInside the budding campaigns for the Third District seat

Bob Lamonica, a local tech marketer and, so far, politico Ryan Coonerty’s only active contender for Santa Cruz County’s Third District Supervisor seat, is running an almost gleeful campaign against what he calls “Santa Cruz’s progressive establishment.”

His campaign plan, while covering issues like public safety, the economy, and water security, is predominately about making a point. That point? That he views Coonerty’s well-backed campaign for the same seat that his father, Neal Coonerty, who is retiring, holds as an “unethical” and “insincere” lockdown on local government power.

“Perhaps it will be a sweep,” Lamonica says of the election—Coonerty has racked up a varied and lengthy list of endorsements and about $40,000 in contributions; Lamonica, meanwhile, has contributed to his own campaign fewer than $2,000—“but I’m in this to the end. I’m going to present things that need to be presented and abuse of power is key to this. If we cannot recognize and stand up to that, then we’ve lost everything.”

Professional surfer Ken “Skindog” Collins filed a statement of intent to run, but did not respond to Good Times’ request for comment by press time.

Lamonica's main accusation is that the progressive establishment—which he says includes Coonerty and, generally, the Democratic party—conducts government with such a degree of double standard that it constitutes an “abuse of power.” As an example, he cites the 2010 sentencing of Wes Modes, a former organizer of the unsanctioned “Do It Yourself Parade,” for participating in a different unpermitted event. Lamonica says other participants included former city officials but that they went uncharged.

Lamonica, whose civic background includes an unsuccessful run for East Palo Alto City Council in 1990 and advocating for a medical marijuana measure in the early ’90s‚ says he offers the Third District something new: “how to think; not what to think.” As an independent, he says he is not beholden to the People's Democratic Club or the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), while the progressive establishment carries allegiances to these groups that amount to “disingenuous baggage.”

The 63-year-old, who would like to bring “honest” discussions to the table about homelessness, poverty, and taxation of the wealthy, has worked for 30-plus years in the technical fields of medical plastics and manufacturing parts for military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

news1-2Candidate for Third District Supervisor Bob Lamonica speaks to students on the UC Santa Cruz campus about his campaign.Coonerty, a former Santa Cruz mayor and councilmember, co-founder of NextSpace, lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, and author, says he assesses the role as a supervisor through a more pragmatic lens and doesn’t worry too much about labels. He recalls his first bid for city council, when he regularly heard that he was either not a real progressive or that he was far too progressive for the city’s own good.

“I would hear those two comments almost on a daily basis,” he says. “I don’t think these labels matter much anymore. I think one of the best parts about local government is that it’s mostly just problem solving—the trash has to get picked up, there needs to be water available, the police and fire [departments] have to respond. So I see my job as a problem-solving one.”

Interestingly, aside from the differences in political vantage points and labels—the independent verses the progressive establishment’s golden boy, as Lamonica sees it—some of their views on mainstay policies do not differ greatly. Both would like to embrace the county’s place as an emerging tech hub and both view desalination as an unideal solution to water shortages but worth keeping around as an option.

Coonerty, 39,  believes Santa Cruz County has the potential to emerge as an economic engine for the place where technology and food production meet. With our position between Silicon Valley, the Salinas and Pajaro valleys’ agricultural production, and the Monterey Bay, Coonerty says “we have a tremendous opportunity to be the future of food here. There is big opportunity and we need to support the companies that are coming up here, from farms to processing to restaurants.”

Part of that support would be working to expand broadband Internet across the whole county, which he says is a vital resource for small businesses.

One of Coonerty’s previous tech contributions was his work as mayor in helping to facilitate the City of Santa Cruz’s program OpenCounter, which allows business owners to register, apply for permitting, and pay fees online. In the spirit of OpenCounter, Coonerty would like to help establish more user-friendly systems for the community on the county level, such as moving some services online.

“The county has been a little bit slower in adopting technology,” he says. “There’s a big opportunity to make it a better customer experience.”

In Lamonica’s version of the county’s tech future, he would like to see new business in the form of intelligent car prototyping for Google, agricultural drone research, and robots.

“We have an incredible advantage for stuff to be tested here,” he says. “Why don’t we get on the edge of that?”

On water security, Coonerty says the county must establish better regional agreements, determine the infrastructure for ongoing water supply from Soquel Creek Water District, conserve more, and secure an emergency water source. Only then, he adds, should desalination be allowed to re-enter the conversation.

He believes that the job of the supervisor for the Third District—which includes the North Coast, UCSC and most of the City of Santa Cruz—is to both “traditionally” and “morally” protect the Monterey Bay and the North Coast, up to the San Mateo County line.

“Before we move forward, I have to know that [desal] doesn’t have any impact on the bay and that we’re able to offset the considerable carbon footprint,” he says. “The initial studies say that you can do that, but I think that there is a long way to go and a lot of other measures that we need to take first.” Short of taking a firm stand one way or the other, Coonerty defers to voters: “At the end of the day, elected officials won’t make this decision; members of the public will.”

His campaign agenda offers ideas on the public safety front, such as having various entities collaborate to deal with chronic offenders, and homelessness, for which he would like to see a variety of approaches, like the housing-first model and “Homeward Bound” programs, come together to lower numbers.

“We’re a small community with a big problem, so it’s probably not going to take just one solution but 15 different ones being constantly evaluated to see what works best,” he says.

Lamonica’s key issues include a re-allocation of funds on the county level, landowners' rights to logging, and instigating a conversation about topics such as homelessness, poverty and public safety, which he accuses “the progressive establishment” of tiptoeing around. He says that if he wins the election, it would be the end of this group—which he says is predominately represented on the Board of Supervisors in the form of John Leopold. Though he says local politics seem to be trending closer to his view of “center.”  

“I do not like the progressive establishment,” he says disdainfully. “I think they play duck and cover too often and they think that they ought to be taken seriously—for what? For looking the other way, time after time?”

Both Coonerty and Lamonica say they are looking forward to forthcoming public forums where they can openly discuss their stances on various policies. This is where Lamonica says he will truly shine. For his part, Coonerty says that the challenge from Lamonica is good for the democratic process and helps to broaden the territory of discussion for both candidates.

As Lamonica tells it, Coonerty’s bid for supervisor 10 months in advance was a political move to prevent other candidates from running and his election would be a father-son handoff.            

“Whatever the outcome of this is,” Lamonica says, “I think that aspect will always have the appearance of impropriety.”

Coonerty says that, while he shares many core values with his father, it will not be himself or his dad who determines the outcome of the June 3 Gubernatorial Primary Election. It will be the voters.

“And that’s how it should be,” he says. “I see no handoff. I have to go out and knock on doors and listen to people and try to run the best campaign I can.”

A lot can be said about a person, and political candidates, in particular, based on who they draw inspiration from.

In Coonerty’s office at NextSpace, there is a large framed photo of Robert Kennedy, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 before being assassinated that same year. Coonerty thinks of Kennedy as his hero.

“He’s always really resonated for me,” he says. “I admire his determination and his way of articulating the values of our country.”

During a meeting with Lamonica at the De Anza Manufactured Home community on Saturday, Feb. 22, he was reading a biography of Andrew Jackson while waiting for potential supporters to show up. He said he normally reads the Bible or fiction, such as William Shakespeare, but that Jackson is intriguing to him. He believes Jackson, who became the seventh president of the United States in 1829, is too often dismissed for his campaigns against the Native Americans, such as the “Trail of Tears”—“he was a product of his times,” Lamonica says—but that the man was especially compelling as an underdog. Jackson was an orphan by age 14, a frontiersman, and ultimately became a very powerful, self-made man—“the guy just came outta’ nothin’.”

Comments (5)Add Comment
Time for change
written by santa cruz news net, April 28, 2014
Bob is the man if you want change, same cadre in power all these years, like what your town has become? Vote for change, remove and replace the group and the lawyers that do these things in this community, do it now! Santa Cruz news net, owner, operator Patrick D Lancelin
Re: Jim Jones
written by Good Times, March 10, 2014
Hi Jim.
For whatever reason, when you first attempted to comment, no text appeared, other than the subject line. If you don't mind reposting the original comment, we will happily approve it for you.
Thank you for your patience,
GT Staff
Why do I even bother writing comments when you delete everything except the title?
written by Jim Jones, March 07, 2014
C'mon, my last comment was just questioning Coonerty's judgment -- and presenting a cynical picture of what power wants, here in and Washington.

And that was too much for Greg Archer.
Not just solving problems, but picking which problems to solve
written by Jim Jones, March 07, 2014
Lomonica?
written by Steven D Hartman, March 05, 2014
Why not? Bob's been speaking out on various issues for decades. And who knows? He just may have a point on the progressive lockdown of Santa Cruz society. As the old saying goes: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And after 40 years, there are many who are tired of the good ol' progressive network.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.