For the first time in more than 50 years, a Mendocino County 5th District supervisor is running for re-election without a challenge.
"I have been here 50 years, I have never seen the 5th District seat being unchallenged," said Norman de Vall, a former four-term 5th District supervisor.
Dan Hamburg, a former congressman, is the current incumbent 5th District supervisor.
The lack of candidates for the seat is particularly surprising because the district is known for divergent views that have led to hotly contested races in the past.
The vast district contains a politically diverse population that lends itself to policy disagreements, de Vall said. Its coastal section runs from just north of the town of Mendocino to the border with Sonoma County. Its inland portions include Boonville, Hopland and the outskirts of Ukiah.
"It leans primarily, with many different opinions, from progressive to slightly left of center," de Vall said. Its supervisors have ranged from conservative to liberal.
"It's not an easy district to run in," Hamburg said.
De Vall blamed the dearth of candidates on several factors he says have caused people to become apathetic about local politics. Younger people — those under 45 — seem to have little interest in local politics, and county officials have not done enough to draw the public into the decision-making process, he said. De Vall said the way to make a difference on environmental and land issues these days is to file lawsuits.
The cost of running a campaign against an incumbent also is discouraging to potential candidates, de Vall said.
Hamburg said his district's residents are not apathetic. He said the more likely reason no one has stepped forward to challenge him is because of his efforts to consider the needs of all of his constituents.