Local and Statewide Elections
The success of the democratic process depends on the active participation of eligible, well-informed voters to ensure the selection of the best possible candidates for government offices. The most crucial positions currently pending are those of US senator and representative of California, and, more locally, mayor of Pacific Grove. The democratic candidate in the California US senate election, former President Pro-Tempore Kevin de Leon, proves about equally as experienced as the also democratic Dianne Feinstein, a US Senator re-running for the same position. Democratic representative Jimmy Panetta and non-partisan public accountant Ronald Paul Kabat are competing for the position of US representative of California. Does the lack of party affiliation and lesser political experience on Kabat’s part render him the weaker candidate? The question remains a matter of controversy.
Locally, the three candidates vying for the mayoral position are PG City Council members Rudy Fischer and Bill Peake, along with local resident Dionne Ybarra. Some but not all of the issues the candidates are focusing on diverge significantly. Fischer is focusing mainly on the improvement of Pacific Grove’s infrastructure, while Peake is focusing on matters of finance and economic stability in the town. Ybarra, however, wishes to focus more on environmental conservation and protection.
Controversial Measures – Yes or No?
In about a month, the city of Pacific Grove will be voting on two local measures in the election, Measure M ( http://www.montereycountyelections.us/a_measures_NOVEMBER_2018_EN_MM.html ) and Measure U ( http://www.montereycountyelections.us/a_measures_NOVEMBER_2018_EN_MU.html ) , both requiring a majority approval to pass. Measure U asks voters whether or not the Transient Occupancy Tax, a tax on short-term rentals, should be raised from 10% to 12%. This increase is projected to raise $1,135,000 per year, but some businesses oppose the additional financial strain, although it is a small increase. Also addressing rentals, Measure M will prohibit short-term rentals in residential areas outside the Coastal Zone in order to protect residents of Pacific Grove and bolster the local economy. Opponents of the measure, however, argue that the regulation is unnecessary and will hurt the economy.
Another controversial measure, the countywide Measure J ( http://www.montereycountyelections.us/a_measures_NOVEMBER_2018_EN_MJ.html ) , addresses public water. Under the ownership and management of the California American Water Company, Monterey Peninsula’s water has become the most expensive water in the nation. Cal Am is actively campaigning against the measure, citing the risk and expense of a takeover or buyout as well as the fears of increasing rates or poor management, although their claims have been shown to be faulty. However, a public takeover of the water system could easily slow the rate at which the prices are rising, improve the quality of infrastructure, and remove the inefficiencies and ulterior motives associated with private companies. While both sides of each issue have their benefits and weaknesses, the final decision will be made by the voters on election day.