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Sonoma County Voting Guide

Check local election results here

Enthusiastic voters Tuesday embraced Election Day, ready for the long campaign season to be done and cast votes in landmark decisions including a new president, legalizing adult recreational marijuana use and local issues involving county parks, schools and elected officials.

Here's the latest:

10:40 p.m.

There's a bittersweetness to the campaign party that Lynda Hopkins hosts at La Fondita, the bustling Mexican restaurant on Sebastopol Road in the Roseland neighborhood.

Supporters of Hopkins' Fifth District supervisor race against Noreen Evans are buoyed by Hopkins' lead, but share a sinking feeling over Donald Trump's outpacing of Hillary Clinton.

Shirlee Zane said from the sidewalk outside La Fondita the pendulum has swung from the hope of 2008 to what she sees as the current national sense of fear.

Zane, who supported Evans, said a bright spot of the night is that victory by Hopkins still will create the first three-woman majority on the Board of Supervisors.

"Lynda will do a good job," Zane said.

10:30 p.m.

The mood at the Sonoma County Democratic Party election night gathering at the Flamingo Hotel was somber, with many people in shock at Donald Trump's performance throughout the night.

Jesus Guzman, a local Latino organizer who has works closely with the North Bay immigrant community, said he felt deep sadness.

Guzman is an undocumentd immigrant who has benefitted from a President Obama federal policy that gives a temporary reprieve from deportation to those brought to the country illegally as children. The policy has allowed him to work and stay in the country without fear of deportation.

"This is reminiscent of BREXIT, where all the polls said it wouldn't pass," he said. "And here we are again, where the nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment is more virulent than we thought."

Guzman said Trump started his campaign with a promise to build a wall with the Mexican border and bolster immigration enforcement, "there's reason to be alarmed."

Kathleen McCallum of Santa Rosa, who was also at the local Democratic Party event, said she simply could not believe that so many Americans would vote for someone with "no experience, someone who is clearly a racist, who is very demeaning toward women and has had a long succession of business failures could possibly be voted in to kead our nation."

"It's a sad day," she said. "I have children."

Therese Horsting, president and chairwoman of the Democratic Club of Southern Sonoma County, said she feared Trump would roll back many of President Obama's landmark accomplishments, including the Affordable Care Act.

"I cried with Gore; this is worse," she said.

9.40 p.m.

Santa Rosa City Councilman Chris Coursey said he was pleased with the results of the city council race, which appears it will add newcomers Jack Tibbetts and Chris Rogers.

"Both Chris and Jack are smart, they work hard, they care a lot about Santa Rosa and that's all you can ask for," Coursey said.

Santa Rosa City councilwoman Julie Combs, who is also ahead in early voting, regarded her early success as sign she's doing the right thing.

"It shows that I've been going in the right direction on rent stabilization , " Combs said.

About Tibbetts and Rogers, she said, " I'm looking forward to working closely with them."

She said Rogers has a depth of knowledge and experience that's "remarkable for his years." While Tibbetts, she said, will take to heart the council's work toward "housing for all."

Sonoma County Voting Guide

Check local election results here

"Jack will be able to facilitate the balance of developers and community benefit," Combs said.

9 p.m.






The chant burst from the glassed-in patio at east Santa Rosa's Union Hotel restaurant after the Fox newscast on the TV screens broadcast that Donald Trump's lead over Hillary Clinton was growing.

A well-groomed young man smiled at the Electoral tally: 254 for Trump, 209 for Clinton.

"To the generic eye," he said, "both of the candidates are flawed. One carried the voice of the people."

The Republican asked to be identified only as James, "a Millennial, college-educate Iraqi War veteran."

Above the animated din of the patio he added, "Through the voice of liberty, freedom will ring."

8.30 p.m.

The atmosphere is jubilant at the Union Hotel Restaurant in Santa Rosa, where the Sonoma County Republican Party is holding it's election night bash. The crowd cheered as their candidate Donald Trump racked up states like Ohio and Florida, key swing states.

"Come on Pan Handle!" cried Chuck Sberna of Petaluma, referring to the section of Florida that is heavily Republican. "It's going to cost me a couple grand if she gets elected.

Sberna said his employer does not offer health insurance so he has to buy it in the individual market and he does nit qualify for subsidies.

"I would have to go on public assistance to get coverage," he said, adding that if Trump is elected he'll do away with Obamacare and bring real competition to the health insurance industry.

James Abrao, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Windsor, said for him the election boils down to three key issues, "borders, language and culture." Abrao said Trump has defied many obstacles to get where he is. These include a "gauntlet of 17 Republican candidates," a biased media and the government establishment of both parties.

"To make it this close, it just shows it's the American people wanting their voices heard," he said.

Abrao said the election is not about Republicans vs. Democrats.

"This is centralized government vs local leadership and local control," he said.

8 p.m.

Even taking into account the early hour, shortly before 8 p.m. the Sonoma County Democrats' party at the Flamingo Hotel isn't much of a party.

Asked to characterize the mood, Stephen Gale, the former county Democratic Central Committee chair, offered, "I would call it glum."

Though Virginia has been called for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump continues to show well, apparently winning Florida.

The crowd gathering in the Flamingo ballroom watched the large TV screen, almost silently.

"There's something going on nationally," said Gale, "that here in California we haven't entirely tuned into."

6:00 p.m.

Election night volunteers at the Sonoma County Democratic Party headquarters focused their phone-banking efforts early Tuesday night on those county Democrats who had yet to vote, even as early results for the presidential election started coming in.

Party chairman Bleys Rose said some 80 percent of county Democrats have voted by mail. Phone bank efforts are focused on those who would be going to the polls Tuesday, he said.

As of early Tuesday evening, the party had made 5,500 phone calls within the past two weeks, said Val Hinshaw, the party’s second vice chairwoman.

The party had reached another 5,400 Democrats through precinct walking.

Liliana Keith-Reid of Santa Rosa was among the more than a dozen volunteers working the phone early Tuesday evening. The Clinton campaign has a separate election night volunteer office in Petaluma.

Keith-Reid, who immigrated to the United States from Fiji in 2012, said technology and digital software has made phone-banking a lot easier and more efficient. In Fiji, Keith-Reid was a member of the Fiji Labour Party, and she served as a supervisor of the city of Nadi on Fiji’s main island.

“I’m just so impressed how technology and digital software has enhanced and made this work more user friendly,” she said.

Rose said the response to this year’s election has been enthusiastic and he expected as much as an 85 percent voter participation.

“An 80 percent turnout is pretty good,” he said.


3:30 p.m.

While most electoral campaigns have focused on likely voters, members of the North Bay Organizing Project are doing a full-court press today on unlikely voters, which they have been “engaging” through ongoing in-person dialogue since January.

Annie Dobbs-Kramer, who heads NBOP’s voter engagement campaign said the group has knocked on 4,600 doors, focusing on “disenfranchised neighborhoods,” such as southwest Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood.

Kramer said that in the county’s precinct 5102, which is in Roseland, out of the 124 targeted homes where NBOP organizers have had multiple contacts with residents throughout the year, only 29 had not voted as of 2 p.m.

“That’s so different from what we’ve seen in the past in terms of the number of folks coming out but also in terms of voter engagement,” Kramer said. NBOP began its voter engagement program during the primary of 2014. Organizers identify unlikely voters through voter a database.

“Every door that we hit this year was someone who had sat out an election either in 2012 or 2014. These are folks that no one else is talking to. Every other campaign targets likely voters, and these tend to be wealthier, whiter and homeowners.”


2:30 p.m.

At the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters, a continuous stream of local residents walked in to log their votes. Some dropped off their ballots in ballot boxes while others insisted they hand their ballot to an elections employee.

Others filled out their ballots in the lobby, while some sought a provisional ballot for the one they had lost. When that happens, elections staff void the original ballot. Still others asked for voter information guides so they could make more informed decisions.

Sonoma County elections manager Deena Thompson-Stalder reported there have been no voter irregularities or problems at local polling stations. She also said she hasn’t heard any reports about extremely long voter lines.

The registrar’s office, she said, has been busy but “could be busier.”

“A lot of people are just dropping off their ballot,” she said. “They don’t want to put it in the mail. They want to make sure it gets here. Some people want to hand it to a real person.”

Thompson-Stalder said the county will report unofficial results throughout the night, but the official count should be completed by Dec. 8.

“Of course, we’d like to be done earlier,” she said.

Lori Tuttle, a Santa Rosa stay at home mom, was among those who voted Tuesday at the registrar’s office. Tuttle, who said she supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, said voter transparency was among her key issues this election.

Tuttle said she cast her ballot for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, a decision she said was “hard to come to” given her strong opposition to the GOP’s Donald Trump.

Stein said she was turned off by the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic Primary, which she said was marred by voter suppression and irregularities that favored Clinton.

She said she realizes her vote is not likely to hurt Clinton’s chances of being elected given that California is a blue state. Even so, she said she would have voted for Stein if she lived in a swing state such as Florida or Pennsylvania.

She insisted her vote is not a protest vote.

“I’m hoping (Stein) can get 5 percent of this vote so that in the next presidential election the party can qualify for campaign funds,” she said.


6:50 a.m.

“Lordy, there’s a line!” said a poll worker who poked her head out of the Oak Grove Elementary School library in Graton to check on things prior to opening. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a line here.”

“We’re anxious!” responded Tom Schissler, who was standing fifth of 11 people gathered prior to the 7 a.m. opening.

For several waiting to vote it is an Election Day that seemed like it would never arrive.

(Angela Hart is reporting live in Sebastopol. View the Facebook Live video here.)

“I am thrilled,” said Joe Horak. He expected a massive, collective “sigh of relief it’s going to be over with. I think we know enough. We know probably too much about our candidates.”

Jennifer Butler also was beyond ready for Election Day.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Butler said. “We’ve behaved so poorly.”

After voting, Butler came outside and put both fists in the air and issued a quiet but vehement “Yes! I’m so relieved it’s over.”

The voters at the west county site were motivated by a mixture of races, with stand outs being the presidential and 5th District race for a seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Most carried a cheat sheet to help them remember their voting plan.

“I feel really proud and honored to vote ‘nasty,’” said Sean O’Leary, referring to Donald Trump’s label of Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman.” The former Bernie Sanders supporter had pivoted quickly to Clinton, wanting to help “create the world I want my daughter to grow up in. I admire and respect Hillary and her civil service.”

Former history and government teacher Matt O’Donnell said he always looks forward to Election Day but this one holds a special meaning.

“It’s the first time to elect a female president of the United States. It’s historic,” said O’Donnell, who felt quite confident of a Clinton victory.

Butler said Republican co-workers have been offering up their opinions throughout the election season. “Today I get to celebrate,” she said.

Horak said he was mostly motivated by local issues and had left his presidential decision until the final moment. “I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for, for president, as I walk in here.”

As he left the library he said he’d marked the box for Clinton. “In the end I would trust Hillary more to lead the country.”

In the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors race for 5th District, five Graton voters all named Lynda Hopkins as their choice.

“I like that she is honest, she has good intentions,” Butler said. “She’s not playing the mean political game.”

Tom and Cindy Schissler said they’d met Hopkins early in the campaign, while at a fire house pancake breakfast. The first impression stuck. “We like her,” Cindy Schissler said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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