Voter guide: A look at the key Sonoma County elections appearing on Tuesday’s ballot
When they cast ballots on Tuesday, Sonoma County voters will decide the outcome of contested races for several key county leadership positions, including sheriff, county supervisor, district attorney and county schools superintendent.
(Press Democrat voting guide for the June 7 election)
Vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For vote center and drop box locations go here.
The heated race for Sonoma County sheriff has dominated the election in recent months, both because it’s only the second contested sheriff’s race in the county since 1990 and because years of political controversy at the Sheriff’s Office and the national Black Lives Matter movement have sharpened the spotlight on local law enforcement.
Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram, former Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Edmonds and former San Francisco police Sgt. Carl Tennenbaum are jockeying for the county’s top policing job.
Community relationships; transparency and oversight; diversity; and a concerted response to homelessness and opioid overdoses have emerged as the expected key issues for voters.
Touting his years of experience at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Engram has positioned himself as the candidate with the most in-depth understanding of the department’s responsibilities and community needs. Engram has largely shied away from directly criticizing the department and outgoing Sheriff Mark Essick, saying the agency has made positive changes over the last decade.
Edmonds has used his 2013 retirement to distance himself from the current office and cast himself as an outsider able to bring change, but has referred to his years working for the department as evidence of his understanding of the sheriff’s job.
Throughout his campaign, Edmonds has repeatedly called for leadership changes at the top of the department.
Tennenbaum has made police reform a cornerstone of his platform. As the only candidate who has not worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Tennenbaum has also cast himself as a change-maker.
To avoid a runoff election in November, the winning candidate must receive more than 50% of ballots cast.
The race for 2nd District supervisor in south Sonoma County also has been a hotly contested election.
Incumbent David Rabbitt is seeking reelection for a fourth term against Petaluma Planning Commissioner Blake Hooper and Kevin Hayenga, a freelance video editor and Uber driver.
In recent weeks, the candidates have sparred over leadership experience and endorsements, but quality of life issues like housing, transportation and drought have dominated the discourse among voters.
All three candidates are registered Democrats, but Hooper and Hayenga have positioned themselves as progressive alternatives to Rabbitt, who has a more centrist political identity.
Hooper and Hayenga are running for elected office for the first time, and Hayenga’s low-profile bid and commitment to run without campaign donations has made him the longer shot of the two rivals.
Hooper, a former staffer for Rep. Jared Huffman, has painted Rabbitt as out of touch and inaccessible to constituents, while emphasizing the need for stronger partnership between county and city governments. He has garnered support from several city councilors in District 2 and progressive interest groups, including the Sonoma County Democratic Party, the North Bay Labor Council and Sonoma County Conservation Action.
Rabbitt in turn has pointed to his record pushing for extra county spending on road repairs, as well as the county’s bid to modernize and consolidate its expansive network of rural fire districts. He has also picked up endorsements from the county’s state lawmakers, unions representing sheriff’s deputies and firefighters; trade groups for builders and real estate interests; and support from the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Santa Rosa Metro Chamber.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party, Sonoma County Conservation Action and North Bay Labor Council recently accused a local interest committee, called the Budget Priorities Committee in Support of Rabbitt for District 2 Supervisor 2022, of violating state and local campaign disclosure requirements.
The complaint, filed with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission and Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, claims the committee did not properly disclose its top donors or display a disclaimer on its political mailings.
“These rules are set for a reason and that reason is so there is full transparency,” representatives of the Sonoma County Democratic Party, Sonoma County Conservation Action and North Bay Labor Council said in a press release.
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