Ballots for November election just about on way to Sonoma County voters
Sonoma County election officials are busy preparing to send mail ballots to more than 300,000 registered voters in advance of the Nov. 8 election.
Contests for California governor, Congress, state legislative and elected posts will top local ballots, followed by a bevy of races for city council, school boards and bonds and local tax measures.
Ballots will start going out to local voters on Monday, Oct. 10.
Deva Proto, Sonoma County’s registrar of voters, said there are 303,357 active, registered voters, and under the state’s shift last year to universal by-mail voting, all registered voters are set to receive a mail ballot.
Proto called the current period “the calm before the storm,” when the office is busy proofing ballots and voter guides, checking vote center equipment and finalizing training sessions for election workers.
There are 161 variations of ballots and voter information guides for Sonoma County, Proto said, taking in the range of state and local jurisdictions. The ballots vary by city and county district.
Locally, a majority of council seats are on the ballot in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Sonoma, Cloverdale and Sebastopol. Two seats are up in Healdsburg, and Petaluma and Windsor will be electing mayors.
Voters across the county are also set to decide on about a dozen elections for school district seats, as well as fire district posts and board leadership of the Valley of the Moon Water District.
The lone local countywide post, County Superintendent of Schools, remains on the ballot, but is no longer a race.
Amie Carter, assistant superintendent of education services for the Marin County Office of Education, is the lone candidate still running for the seat. Her opponent, Brad Coscarelli, a Santa Rosa elementary school principal, dropped out of the race in August citing health concerns. His name will still appear on the ballot.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, are running against lesser-known Republican candidates and are poised to win reelection in races where Democrats hold the overwhelming advantage in registered voters.
Matt Brock, a Solano County native and water treatment system worker, is running against Thompson for the newly redrawn 4th District seat, which adds much of Yolo County to his longtime base in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Douglas Brower, a Ferndale City Council member and a pastor, is challenging Huffman for the 2nd District seat, which stretches along the coast from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.
Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly and California Coastal Commission member Sara Aminzadeh, a Kentfield resident, are in a competitive race for the redrawn 12th District Assembly seat as incumbent Marc Levine exits the Legislature.
State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, is running for his third and final Senate term against Gene Yoon, a Lake County Republican who works in technology, finance and law. Assembly member Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, is running for his fifth two-year term against Republican Charlotte Svolos, a special-education teacher.
Santa Rosa voters also are set to decide on whether to extend a quarter-cent sales tax that generates about $10 million a year, about 80% of it earmarked for police and fire protection, with the remainder for violence prevention efforts.
Voter guides and information about all measures and races are available online through the registrar of voter’s website.
The statewide seats up for election this November include governor, secretary of state and attorney general.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking a second term and is running against state Sen. Brian Dahle, a Lassen County seed farmer who has served in the Legislature since 2013.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat, is running as an incumbent after Newsom appointed her in 2021. Robert Bernosky, a chief financial officer and Republican Party executive, is challenging Weber for the seat.
California’s Attorney General post is also up for election this November with Democrat Rob Bonta, a Newsom appointee and former Assembly member, running against attorney Nathan Hochman, a Republican who has never held public office. His resume includes past service as an assistant U.S. attorney based in California and assistant U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, and most recently, as an attorney in private practice, specializing criminal defense and tax cases.
Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed by Newsom to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ Senate seat, is running to retain his post against Republican attorney Mark Meuser.
How to vote in Sonoma County
The county will open ballot drop boxes Oct. 10, the same day it mails out ballots, Proto said.
To be counted toward final results, ballots sent through the mail need to be postmarked on or before Election Day. Proto urged voters to keep that date in mind.
“The closer it gets to Election Day, the more people have to be careful that they’re actually taking it into the post office,” Proto said.
She added that anyone dropping a ballot in a mailbox or having it picked up by their postal carrier should be mindful of pickup times and that ballots are not postmarked until they delivered to the post office and processed.
Ballots brought to the county’s drop-boxes do not need a postmark because they are delivered straight to the voter registrar’s office, Proto said.
For those who want to vote in person, seven voting centers will open throughout the county on Oct. 29 for early voting and an additional 24 will open on Nov. 5.
The primary election in June marked the first full-scale rollout of the county’s new Voters Choice Act election model, which allowed voters to cast ballots at any voting center in the county instead of assigning them to a specific polling station.
“It seemed to go pretty well,” Proto said of the roll out in June. “We definitely had more people utilize them on Election Day than on early voting days, which we expected.”
The last day to register for a mail-in-ballot is Oct. 24, but Sonoma County residents can register to vote in-person, day-of at any of the voting centers, Proto said.
Proto also encouraged voters to sign up to track their ballot so they can get notified as it is processed. Voters can sign up via the California Secretary of State’s website.
“People should consider signing up for tracking their ballot, so they will know when it’s on its way,” Proto said.
You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MurphReports.
County government, politics reporter
The decisions of Sonoma County’s elected leaders and those running county government departments impact people’s lives in real, direct ways. Your local leaders are responsible for managing the county’s finances, advocating for support at the state and federal levels, adopting policies on public health, housing and business — to name a few — and leading emergency response and recovery.
As The Press Democrat’s county government and politics reporter, my job is to spotlight their work and track the outcomes.
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