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Election Wrap Up: Voters Ban Fracking, Approve Taxes

Krista Almanzan

Update: As of Wednesday afternoon, Monterey County Election Officials say they still have nearly 34,000 ballots left to count.   Leaving many race still up for grabs.  56% of total ballots have been counted.

A full count is not expected until Friday.  

This puts voter turnout in Monterey County at roughly 46%.   

Original Story Now Reflecting Update: 

Even before polls closed  candidates and election watchers started coming into the Press Club at the Monterey County Weekly.  It’s a new juice bar and a café just steps from the paper’s news operation.

Democratic Congressman Sam Farr, on his way to winning re-election, stopped by the party shortly after it became clear that the GOP would take control of the Senate, while retaining control of the House.

“They have not been able to govern as the majority in the House because they are not interested in fixing problems, they’re just interested in criticizing the President. And I think if that mood continues, that’s bad news for the country.  We’ve got to find compromise,” said Congressman Farr.

Another election being watched closely at this party: the races for Seaside City Council and Mayor.   They may sound hyper local, but could have a big impact on the region because the winners will have a say in the Monterey Downs Project , a proposal slated for open space on the former Fort Ord.

“ It’s a mixed use proposal, which means that in addition to a horse racetrack, a 5000 seat sports arena, a 115 acre horse park and some other amenities there would be more than 1500 homes,” said Kera Abraham, Monterey County Weekly Assistant Editor. She’s been following both races.    

“The Seaside City Council will make all the major decisions about approving the project and setting about all the conditions as it moves forward,” said Abraham.

The preliminary numbers show newcomer Jason Campbell in the lead for one of two contested City Council seats.  He’s a small business owner and environmental activist who has fought development on open space on the former Fort Ord.

Victory also appears in store for the cash strapped City of Salinas where voters are well on their way to passing Measure G.  It’s a one-cent sales tax lasting 15 years.  It’s estimated to bring in $20-million a year into the City’s general fund, some of which will go to the Police Department.

In an interview before Election Day, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin said more funding will help the police department not only restore basic services.

“That includes community oriented policing services. Bringing school resource officers back permanently, getting a facility, a police building that actually serves an law enforcement need, which this facility currently does not.  Lots of needs here,” said Chief McMillin.

In Santa Cruz County where ballots are also still being counted.  Voters in the City of Santa Cruz and County are on the way to approving a tax on medicinal marijuana businesses.  It’s a 7% tax on revenue with the option to go up to 10%.  The tax will bring in an estimated $900,000 a year for the county.

Reached by phone, Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold said, the Board of Supervisors will talk about how they’ll spend that money at their meeting on the 18th.  But part will  go for code enforcement to address rogue growers.

“We have over 80 different complaints that have to be resolved over illegal cultivation of medical cannabis primarily in the San Lorenzo Valley and the Aptos Hills.   We don’t see our response to our medical cannabis as a law enforcement, we see this as a land use piece,” said Supervisor Leopold.

And over in San Benito County , voters approved Measure J which bans fracking.  The race for Monterey County Sheriff is still too close to call.  Preliminary numbers show Deputy Steve Bernal leading over Incumbent Sheriff Scott Miller by roughly 1100 votes with nearly 34,000 ballots left to be counted.