Sonoma County voters head to polls in recall election
Voters in Sonoma County and across California went to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on the political fate of Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch.
Here’s a look at voting around the county:
At the Petaluma Christian Church, a polling station, election volunteers expressed surprise at the steady flow of in-person voters. More than 30 people had voted by 8 a.m., after the station opened for civic business at 7 a.m., Carol Ellis, a poll worker, said.
A stream of voters continued from 8:00-8:45 a.m.
“I wanted to exercise my right to vote in person,” Courtney Peterson, 33, said. "I’m part of a society that allows us to vote and express ourselves and I strongly believe in that.“
Peterson declined to share how she had voted on the recall questions.
The election is the second contest in which California election officials have mailed ballots to the state’s more than 22 million registered voters, according to the Los Angeles Times. More than 40% of registered voters had already cast their ballot by mail, that newspaper reported. Political analysts expect a larger in-person turnout from Republicans than Democrats today.
Janet, a 59-year-old woman who has lived in Petaluma for more than 20 years, said she voted to recall the governor. Newsom was “hypocritical,” she said, “giving us rules and not following them himself.” She cited Newsom’s infamous dinner at the French Laundry, in which he was photographed violating COVID-19 rules he had imposed on the state.
Janet, who declined to share her last name because she said expressing a politically conservative view had in the past cost her friendships, said she had selected talk radio host Larry Elder to replace Newsom as governor. She did not vote on the question of whether to recall Ravitch because she hadn’t done enough research into the choice, she said.
Michelle Kralovec, who flagged down a Press Democrat reporter to express her strong disapproval of Newsom, said she voted to recall both him and the district attorney.
“He’s really kind of ruined California,” she said of Newsom. Kralovec also voted for Elder, she said.
Ravitch had given preferential treatment to family members who committed crimes while pursuing harsh sentences for others, Kralovec said. She cited a story about Ravitch’s brother getting light treatment in a criminal prosecution over a fatal car crash that has circulated in campaign mailers paid for by Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher.
Ravitch has called the insinuation she influenced her brother’s treatment by the criminal justice system “immoral” and unfounded, as the case was prosecuted in Napa County, outside her jurisdiction.
Gallaher launched the campaign after Ravitch’s office sued one of his companies for abandoning elderly residents at two Santa Rosa senior homes during the 2017 Tubbs fire.
Outside the Rohnert Park Community Center, 23-year-old Arianna Williamson said she voted against recalling Ravitch. New to Sonoma County, Williamson said she knew little about the district attorney but found it troubling no candidates were listed to take Ravitch’s place if she was recalled.
Williamson voted to keep Newsom in office.
“Do I think Gavin Newsom has done best job? No,” she said. But Williamson had lost loved ones who died from COVID-19, she said, and found the candidates for the governor’s mansion who vocally opposed measures to slow the virus’s spread to be “deeply upsetting.”
Despite polls suggesting Newsom had an edge in the race to keep his seat, Williamson said she was worried about the election’s outcome. “Everything in our world right now feels like one big toss up,” she said.
In Sebastopol, Brad Snell, 47, called Ravitch “ a fine attorney,” and said that like the gubernatorial recall, the campaign against her was a “witchhunt.”
In Ravitch’s case, it’s “one particular fellow throwing a lot of money at her demise,” Snell said, casting the vote as “a personal vendetta between (Gallaher) and her.”
“In my opinion this whole thing is just a big farce,” he said, “and a big giant waste of taxpayer money.”