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Voting Memories. Congressional Candidate Interviews. Local Alum Featured On NPR’s World Cafe.

Erika Mahoney
Bridget Stennes of Santa Cruz voted this week. She shared her memories about voting for the first time in 1960.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 10/23/20. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

Bridget Stennes cast her ballot on Wednesday in Santa Cruz. Voting is something she’s been doing for the last six decades. As an Irish immigrant in the 1960s, she cast her first vote for the country’s first Irish-Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. 

“It was exciting. It was in Massachusetts and I had two little kids then. And I remember my husband was still finishing his degree,” Stennes said. “There was no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

This year, Stennes voted via Santa Cruz County’s new VoteMobile, a mobile voting center. It stopped in front of the retirement community she lives at. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney will have more on the VoteMobile next week, and how it’s also helping fire survivors. 

Up until November 3, we’re answering election questions:

Q: How do I know my mail-in ballot will be counted? 

A: You can track your ballot like you track online packages. Signing up only takes a few minutes and you can choose whether to receive a text, email or call alert to find out when your ballot is received and counted. Pictured below is an example of a notice.

Credit Doug McKnight
A text alert from BallotTrax alerting the voter that their ballot has been received.

Q: I received a mail-in ballot but I’m planning to vote in-person. What should I do? 

A: You must bring your unused mail-in ballot with you. You will “surrender” or give your mail-in ballot to a poll worker who will then give you a different ballot you can use instead. If you forget to bring your mail-in ballot to the polls, you can still vote. You will be given a provisional ballot, which does require more paperwork. Don’t forget, you can also fill out your mail-in ballot and walk it into an elections office or voting center and hand it to a poll worker. Or, you can mail it back or drop it in a drop box. 

Q: What if I haven’t received a mail-in ballot?

A: Local election officials recommend calling your county election office immediately if you haven’t received yours in the mail yet. 

This week, KAZU aired interviews with the two candidates running for California’s 20th Congressional District, which spans much of the Central Coast. Democratic Congressman Jimmy Panetta is undefeated and running for the third time for the U.S. House of Representatives. This is Republican Jeff Gorman’s first run for the House. The candidates differ in what they think are the most important issues to local residents. Panetta said climate, housing and immigration. Gorman said liberty, independence and federalism. 

Census counting has ended across the country. Despite the numerous challenges local census officials faced, a pandemic and keeping up with various court battles to name just two, the response rate locally has improved, compared to the 2010 Census.

Santa Cruz County      2020 = 71.7%                          2010 = 67.8%

Monterey County         2020 = 65.5%                          2010 = 64.4%

San Benito County      2020 = 70.7%                          2010 = 67.5%

The final push on the last day of counting was particularly successful for Monterey County. According to the county, census officials collected approximately 240 questionnaires, which represented 1,400 people. They say that equates to about $2.8 million in federal funding for the community each year. 

The California Department of Public Health loosened restrictions for several businesses this week. Personal care services, such as skin care, tattoo parlors and massage therapy may now operate indoors with some restrictions. For example, workers who must be within six feet of customers or co-workers must wear a secondary barrier (face shield or safety goggles) in addition to a face covering. The change applies to all California counties, including Monterey.

Live, outdoor professional sports events can resume in Santa Cruz County. The events are limited to 20 percent of the stadium’s capacity. Smaller theme parks can also reopen. The parks are limited to 25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. (Outdoor sporting events and theme parks are still not allowed in Monterey and San Benito Counties.)

But, Monterey County is opening most playgrounds, including playground equipment, in unincorporated areas this weekend. The playgrounds include five in East Garrison, three in Toro Parks Estates and one in Oak Tree Views. 

COVID-19 Updates as of Friday morning:

Flu season is almost upon us and hospitals in Monterey County have come together to talk about how to prepare for influenza during a pandemic. Doctors say it could be hard to know if you have influenza or COVID-19 with a test being your only option to know for certain. As KAZU’s Michelle Loxton reported, medical experts are urging the public to go get a flu vaccine now. The article includes a link to vaccination clinics happening around the county over the next week or so.


Credit Michelle Loxton
A drive-through flu shot clinic was held this week in a parking lot at California State University Monterey Bay. Participants remained in their vehicles and vaccines were administered through the vehicle’s windows.

Another wildfire is burning in southern Monterey County. The Coleman Fire broke out on Sunday, just north of Fort Hunter Liggett and very close to the eastern boundary of the Dolan Fire. It’s about 570 acres in size, as of Friday morning, and 20% contained. The Dolan fire remains at 98% containment. There are no mandatory evacuations in place for either fire. 

In national and international news, Pope Francis broke with long standing Catholic doctrine by calling for legislation to protect same-sex couples. The Pope made the comments in a documentary that premiered in Rome this week. 

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in their second and final debate Thursday night. KAZU carried the debate live along with a way to watch it at NPR wrote about five takeaways from the debate. Election Day is 12 days away.

Looking for some new tunes this weekend? Seaside High School alum Tekla Waterfield's song “Let There Be” was featured on NPR’s World Cafe Monday. World Cafe is NPR’s live performance and interview podcast from WXPN. Stream Waterfield’s song on the second hour of the playlist here.

Until next week,

The KAZU Team

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