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Gullixson: Major changes ahead among North Coast legislators

  • Noreen Evans (COURTESY PHOTO)

Next year's legislative elections have suddenly become much more interesting.

Last year, Sonoma County completed a wholesale and relatively rapid turnover on its Board of Supervisors, a board that had seen little change over the previous two decades.

Now the North Coast is about to see a similar turnover within its legislative corps.

Several key events have played into this. Foremost was the announcement Monday by state Sen. Noreen Evans that she will not be running for a second term in 2014. Although it's no secret that Evans has long desired a judicial appointment — one that so far has eluded her — the news still came as a surprise to many in her district and leaves open a seat that wasn't expected to be vacant until 2018. But Evans, 58, who served two terms on the Santa Rosa City Council before being elected to the Assembly in 2004, noted that next year will mark 20 years in public office for her, and she's ready to return to her private practice as a lawyer. “(P)olitics (is) not how I planned to spend my life,” she noted.

Since her announcement, the rumor mill has been churning as to who might take a run at the sprawling 2nd Senate District. Thanks to redistricting, the district now stretches from Marin County through Humboldt County. While many of the names that have come up as possible candidates are familiar to those in the southern part of the district, including Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire, former Assembymembers Michael Allen and Patty Berg and Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, the vacancy opens the possibility of someone from Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt or Napa county picking up the seat.

The same is true of the race to succeed Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, who is being term-limited out next year. The contest for his 2nd District Assembly seat has suddenly opened up a bit.

Although he had not committed to running, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was considered to be a front-runner for that seat. But given that the 32-year-old politician remains in rehab as he battles for his political future — thanks to an alcohol-laced evening in which he allegedly tried to break into a neighbor's apartment — a run at Chesbro's seat now appears unlikely.

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