Vote-Counting Continues at 701 Ocean Street
There is relative quiet for now in Room 310, the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office and official place of ballot counting. Unlike Florida’s Broward County’s embattled clerk, our clerk Gail Pellerin, is calm, efficient, on-task, and appears determined to get this vote count right even if her staff has to work 11 and 12-hour days. I’ve made repeated visits this past week to Room 310, including Sunday, and early this morning, Monday. They are just wrapping up the “vote by mail” count and will soon begin opening the first-ever general election CVR’s, or “conditional voting registration” counting. This last category was created by the California state legislature to extend voting opportunities right through the 8pm hour of poll closures on Nov. 6th. It was done so that as many California voters who wished to vote could indeed cast a ballot. Over 2000 “same day voters” did indeed take the legislature up on their latest drive to elicit input into the political system, and according to one county clerk employee, Santa Cruz ranked Sixth among the state’s 58 counties where same day registration took place. Los Angeles, being the largest county, is tops, but percentage-wise, Santa Cruz county may be the largest same day voting participant. Counting the same day ballots, as well as the 50% of vote by mails that come in during the last days of the campaign, is the reason why it takes weeks to come up with a final tally.
I am proud of the hundreds who participated in the Justin Cummings, Drew Glover, Yes on M and Yes on Prop. 10 campaigns. It was a team effort. Win or lose I must say that the blood, sweat, and tears that began last February–gathering over 10,000 petition signatures–and continuing up until the polls closed at 8p on election day was nothing short of Herculean. The engagement, debate, meeting stamina, and walking endurance places many of you in the civic-activist hall of fame. When over 100 show up on a sunny Sunday to knock on doors…well, that’s the kind of community I want to live in. When the votes are certified on December 6th by our County Clerk, all of you who participated in gathering signatures, walking and talking, and working on the amazing get out the vote effort that took place in the final frenetic days of the election have little to regret. When some volunteers could not show up, others did. When Lower Ocean was covered, volunteers would head over to Seabright or South of Laurel or up to campus. People were committed and flexible. Many moving parts yielded many moving people, cars, bikes, skateboards, and feet. Wow, is it really over? Who among us has not woken up recently wondering what neighborhood you would cover that day? Or wondered what happened to all those yard signs we put up? Did anyone dream of forgetting to vote and wake up in a cold sweat of at first regret, and then relief that the election is actually over? Onward to victory!
Next UCSC Chancellor?
I was kind of blown away when I arrived at the UCSC campus’ Tierra Fresca restaurant last Friday. I thought I was coming to sit with a group of campus insiders to discuss what criteria might be used in selecting the next Chancellor. I passed several armed police before descending the stairway to an eatery that sits right above the College 9 and 10 student dining hall. I breezed into the room and casually passed a woman whose head was buried into her podium notes. As I strode past she looked up. It was former Homeland Security chief, former Arizona governor, and current UC President Janet Napolitano. I introduced myself, welcomed her to Santa Cruz, snapped a selfie and headed for table 8, which was already bedecked with plates of salmon sitting atop top an arugula salad. Clearly, this was not going to be provincial affair. We were immediately welcomed by Janet and asked to discuss two questions:
1) What qualities would you want in the next Chancellor of UCSC? (Napolitano’s question) (btw, George Blumenthal is retiring)
2) If we (the table, there were 9 tables of 6-8 participants each) were getting together in five years, how would you measure the success of the choice that was made? (consultant’s question)
We were then told to get to work in our table groups and assign someone to report back out to the entire nine tables what the group discussed. It was 12:10p, we had until 1p to chat. This all had to end by 1:30p.
Political and Local Glitterati
It was a conversation that included County Supe John Leopold, state resources chief John Laird, Assemblymember Mark Stone, County Supe Bruce McPherson, SC city councilmember Cynthia Chase, former mayor Don Lane, and many others with great amounts of city and county experience. I noticed no current students were present and I would hope a separate set of these meetings could be arranged to hear their input…Here are my notes, which I presented to the larger group. Seems to me they pretty much sum up what other tables discussed and presented as well. At my table were McPherson, Chamber of Commerce exec. Casey Byers, former Asssemblymember and current UC Regent Charlene Zettel (first Republican Latina in state Assembly), search firm consultant David Bellshaw, and Donna Mekis former Pres. of UCSC alumni Council. It was a healthy, albeit polite discussion in which I tried to hammer home the messages I’ve received from the SC electorate and my experience from my day job on campus: 1) there’s some pretty ugly labor conditions on campus that have been going unaddressed, 2) UCSC students are at the root of housing crisis in town, 3) respect and stewardship for a healthy and thriving natural environment on-campus and off-campus is essential for the next chancellor to grasp, 4) the city council and UCSC have a long and inextricable bond and must figure out how to live together, and 5) campus growth affects almost every aspect of local government.
The Criteria Discussed in Selecting Next Chancellor
—Build a strong campus-community, which means engaging in a city-county-UCSC dialogue;
—Next Chancellor should be aware that they are coming into a heated atmosphere around the issue of campus growth and have something to add to the discussion;
—This person should expect a certain culture of intimacy, and with that a culture that speaks up. In other words, guarded and thin-skinned chancellors need not apply!
—Must possess a commitment (and track record?) to first generation students;
—The perfect candidate should have a handle on the tech community and be willing to conduct outreach;
—Next Chancellor should be someone who embraces the natural environment and understands how important that is to the UCSC and city community;
—He or she should possess experience with labor relations and negotiating with unions;
—We need someone who is “transparent” and “authentic,” meaning if the chancellor and faculty have a different viewpoint the faculty knows that the chancellor is being transparent and authentic with them and trust can be built that way;
—Housing, housing, housing…we are in a community-wide housing crisis and the next Chancellor’s skillset ought to reflect some experience elsewhere in this regard;
—She or he must be “fundraiser-in-chief;”
—Chancellor candidate has to be experienced in dialogue with students…be “culturally competent” as well;
—The Next head of this university has to be willing to live on campus (the outgoing Chancellor did not live in Santa Cruz);
—There is a culture here that is sober, serious and questioning…it is perhaps characterized by the idea that “we are going to change the world,” and the ultimate candidate must embrace, or at least understand this concept;
—Lots of people in Santa Cruz county go over the hill each day–33,000–the next Chancellor must be a leader on-campus, off-campus, and be willing to meet with the business community.