While supervisorial hopefuls Carpenter, Jacobi earn green support, Carrillo touts broader stance

There are almost 50,000 voters in Sonoma County's 5th Supervisorial District, and Ernie Carpenter is betting that many of them won't vote in the June primary.

What's more, the 69-year-old candidate is banking that the lion's share of most likely voters — those over 50 years old — will cast their ballots for him.

"If everyone with a little gray and slightly balding votes for me, I'm in good shape," Carpenter quipped recently.

When he entered the race two months ago to challenge first-term incumbent Efren Carrillo, he both shocked the district and pleased one of its biggest constituencies — the conservation and environmental community.

Environmentalists had been concerned that Carrillo's opponent, former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi, was no match for Carrillo's four years in office and his ability to raise money, as evidenced by his current campaign war chest of about $80,000.

Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action, reiterated this week that Carpenter's entry instantly turned an "election" into a "race."

There will be a runoff in November of the top two finishers if no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

For his part, Carrillo, 31, rejects attempts to characterize him as pro-development at the expense of the environment. Carrillo, the first Latino elected to the board, says he balances his political views to also encourage jobs and says he's worked to represent all of the district. Rampant development, he said, is a "ghost of Sonoma past."

"They're tilting at windmills that aren't there anymore," Carrillo said, adding that growth in Sonoma County has been sluggish for more than a decade.

"I frame my decisions with a lot of consideration and thought," Carrillo said. "My job is to look at the realities before us, to recognize the need for jobs and the need to keep the community viable."

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