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The Contenders (City Council)

The Contenders (City Council)


Did you know there are 12 people
running for Santa Cruz City
Council? Ever wonder who they
are? We thought you might have.

By Sarah Phelan

HERE AT Metro Santa Cruz, we see it as our
job to inform you about candidates in upcoming
elections. But we have to say the surprisingly
low-impact campaigns being run by more than a
few of the dozen candidates running for Santa
Cruz City Council ain’t making our job, or
yours, any easier.
Now, let’s be fair, unlike their national
counterparts, most local candidates run their
campaigns on shoestring budgets. So far this
fall, Cynthia Mathews is the city candidate with
the mostest, having raised $22, 000, ($5,000 of
which was used for legal defense funds),
proving perhaps that her “Yes, Cynthia, you can
count on my support” fliers really do work.
But with four candidates declaring less that
$1,000 in contributions, it’s clear that they won’t
be able to afford fancy fliers and signs, not to
mention a bilingual candidate statement in the
county election guide. Getting into the county
guide costs $635 per language, or $1,270 in
total, and only if you’ve agreed to campaign
spending limits. Which basically means that only
the richest candidates can reach the county’s
poorest voters, just in case you didn’t believe us
that irony’s not dead.
At the city level, candidates get a page in the
election guide free, providing they agree to
voluntary campaign and expenditure and
contribution limitations, an arrangement to
which 11 out of the 12 candidates have agreed.
And that, of course, is just the bare minimum.
With all the effort candidates have to put into
getting their names out there, perhaps the
biggest irony of all is that the local politician with
the biggest media profile in recent weeks isn’t
even running for re-election, Mayor Chris
Krohn has been both on CNN and in the pages
of The New York Times saying yes to medical
marijuana, and no to a war on Iraq!
The problem for our current crop of council
wannabees is twofold. First, 12 of them are
running for only three seats, and second, three
of them, Cynthia Mathews, Mike Rotkin and
incumbent Tim Fitzmaurice, have a leg up on
the competition in that they have name
recognition and a record by which they can be
judged, with all three having served as mayors
of Santa Cruz.
Even some first-timers, though, know how to
get noticed. Aldo Giacchino got plenty of press
earlier this fall when he launched a lawsuit
against fellow contenders Mathews and Rotkin,
claiming they were ineligible to run. The suit
was dismissed, but Giacchino got his first taste
of name recognition in the process. Thomas
Leavitt made his mark by being the only
contender to get the Green Party’s endorsement,
and, until recently, being the only candidate to
oppose Measure Q, the city’s hotel tax.
Meanwhile, Steve Argue, who recently also
came out against the hotel tax, is championing
rent control, and Phil Baer says he’s all about
getting heroin off the streets.
So, do you know what your favorite and least
favorite council candidates are up to? Chances
are, probably not, even though the election is
only two weeks away. In light of that, we
thought we’d give you a little help by letting you
know where they stand, and give them a little
help, too, by letting them know how high their
profile is around town with our handy Sign
Visibility Rating, which works on a scale of 1 to
5, thusly:

4 = We have their sign, or someone not too far
away does.
3 = We’ve seen ‘em around.
2 = We saw one on the back of an SUV once.
1 = Dude, where’s your sign?

Got it? OK, here we go. The candidates are
organized in alphabetical order; their information
comes from their own campaign materials and
public statements and from interviews. Watch
for our endorsements Oct. 30, and don’t forget
that October 21 is the last day to register to
vote. ‘Cause, man, if you blow off this election
after we went through all this trouble, we are
gonna be so pissed.


Steve Argue

Platform: A habitat restorationist and a DJ for
Free Radio Santa Cruz, Argue is for rent control
and a stronger living wage ordinance, ending the
sleeping ban and police abuses, a stronger living
wage, unions, free speech, fewer downtown
allowances and fewer regressive taxes. He’s also
for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries now
closed by city zoning, more bike paths and an
improved bus system.
He is against Measure Q, also known as the
hotel tax, the repeal of the utility tax, logging on
city owned reservoir land, and is the use of
pesticides and herbicides, wherever possible.
Handy quote: “A vote for Steve Argue is a vote
for change.”
Funds Raised: $1,525
Endorsements: The California Rifle and Pistol
Contact Info: 457.9754, ext. 1169, or email
Steveorchid (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Phil Baer

Platform: A carpenter-sculptor who lives in
Beach Flats, Baer opposes what he calls “the
heroin mercado,” which he says has thrived on
the streets of Beach Flats for 20 years. Baer
says that since the San Lorenzo Estuary and
Main Beach are the focal point of beautiful
Santa Cruz, residents should object to “the
desecration of this historic community and
environmentally sensitive area by the hard drugs
sold there.”
Funds Raised: $1,065
Endorsements: Neighbors Opposed to Beach
Area Drug Dealing
Contact Info: 423.0170 or email
GyngeB (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Dave Eselius

Platform: An engineer and Navy veteran,
Eselius believes that population growth is the
most important issue at hand. With county
figures projected to increase 45 percent by
2020, Eselius predicts a crisis in transportation,
housing, water, jobs, schools, health services
and quality of life. He promises to produce a
20-year growth plan within the year, and says
he sees no viable alternative to traffic other than
highway widening, the cost of which, he says,
would by law be shared by the local community.
He accuses local government of only wanting to
build roads for bicycles instead of “correcting
city traffic jams.”
Funds Raised: $800 in self-loans
Contact Info: 423.0170 or email
electdave (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Tim Fitzmaurice

Platform: A councilmember and university
lecturer, Fitzmaurice supports campaign finance
reform, the living wage, the skatepark and teen
center, Gault Street senior housing, medical
marijuana, granny units, Beach Flats family
housing, Del Mar restoration, bike lanes, gay
youth, the Metro Base project, the saving of
Harvey West Pool, river restoration and
pesticide limits. Asked about transportation,
Fitzmaurice, who has served on the Regional
Transportation Commission and the
Metropolitan Transit District Board, says he
thinks the Highway 1 issue will be decided by
the people as a ballot issue. In the meantime,
he’d like to see the bus schedule expanded and
more bike lanes added. Describing himself as
“something of a maverick, not always pleasing
to political factions,” Fitzmaurice reaffirms his
commitment to seniors, youth, affordable
housing, shelter for homeless children and
families, and his fight “against hate and abusive
behavior in the city.”
Funds Raised: $6,991
Endorsements: Mardi Wormhoudt, Emily
Reilly, Ed Porter, Celia Scott and San Francisco
supe Aaron Peskin
Contact Info: timfitz (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 3


Aldo Giacchino

Platform: A management consultant, Giacchino
says the budget crisis shows we need “a new
balanced approach.” He also says that “If we are
known as a drug city, then tourists won’t come.”
Aldo has produced a flier which stresses that
housing density must be placed along traffic
corridors and downtown, “not in low density
neighborhoods.” Noting that he is dedicated to
serve full time, Giacchino supports getting
railway right of way to use for bike trails or
electric vehicles, and pursuing strong economic
activity “to generate increased sales tax and
hotel tax revenues.” He also supports “persistent
enforcement of basic laws to remove those who
insist on disruptive behavior downtown and in
our neighborhoods.”
Regarding the utility tax repeal threat, Giacchino
says, ‘Let the community decide.” But if it is
repealed, he proposes “a smaller utility tax,
backed by a clear spending plan, renewable by
voters every 4 years.”
Funds Raised: $11,584, most in self- loans
Contact Info:, email
Agsantaacruz (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 2


Thomas Leavitt

Platform: A self-described entrepreneur,
Leavitt is the only City Council candidate with
the endorsement of the Green Party, and the
first candidate to come out against the city’s
proposed hotel tax, Measure Q, which he says
was triggered by fear the utility tax will get
repealed, thereby wiping out the Santa Cruz
County Conference and Visitors Council’s
budget. Leavitt says he wants to “establish
neighborhood improvement districts, fix the
bottom rungs of the housing ladder, and restore
downtown as a center of community and culture
through establishing a pedestrian plaza
downtown.” He also supports safe sleeping
zones, a permanent multiblock downtown plaza,
affordable housing and the living wage, and
opposes the downtown ordinances, the
privatization of public space and massive
buildings downtown.
“We need new leadership and an authentic
progressive voice to broaden the dialogue
beyond downtown, thereby linking it to the
beach front,” says Leavitt, who believes our
traffic woes are a product of “our imbalance
between low-paying jobs and high-costing
homes,” and supports the creation of “high
quality jobs and alternative transit.”
Funds Raised: $2,059, most in self -loans
Contact Info:
Sign visibility rating: 1


Greg Lopez

Platform: A construction manager, Lopez asks
why our most-visited area is one of the worst in
the city. Noting that Beach Flats is a constant
source of trouble for the Santa Cruz Police
Department, Lopez supports “the revitalization
of the Flats.” He suggests more “quality local
industries” as a way to reduce gridlock and does
not believe that “building affordable housing and
inviting the homeless from other areas” will
solve our housing crisis.
On top of the usual problems, Lopez lists
“downtown drug problems, violence and a
general lack of respect for police and elected
Funds Raised: $149
Contact Info: gregorye4cc (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Cynthia Mathews

Platform: Currently director of public affairs
for Planned Parenthood, Mathews has served
on the City Council for two previous terms,
experience which she says will help provide
“constructive leadership in protecting the
environment, promoting a strong economy,
meeting local housing needs, investing in youth
and families, and building trust in local
government.” Author of the successful ballot
measures C and D to ensure adequate funding
for schools, Mathews also supports the
completion of the Metro Base, “as the supply of
affordable housing moves South” and as a
safety net for those who can’t afford to buy a
car. She touts her endorsements, which include
the People’s Democratic Club, SEIU No. 415,
GLBT Alliance, American Federation of
Teachers No. 2199, Democratic Central
Committee and the Democratic Women’s Club.
Handy quote: “There are no simple answers. I
listen to concerns, especially in areas I’m not
familiar with. I look for solutions with broad
Funds Raised: $22,639, with $600 going to a
legal defense fund outside normal election limits
Contact Info: 423.8977 or
cynthia (at)
Sign Visibility Rating : 4


Jeromy McMillan

Platform: Restaurateur McMillan is the only
candidate not to have a statement in the city’s
election guide. He has been somewhat of a
mystery man, and did not show up at the
candidate forum we attended. We do know that
McMillan stresses a Beach Flats cleanup, more
police officers and “better education for our
children with a safe learning environment.”
Funds Raised: None have been filed
Contact Info: 426.7218 or email
Jeromym007 (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Mike Rotkin

Platform: A teacher in USCS’s community
studies department, Rotkin, who has served
almost 18 years on the City Council, believes
the city needs “experienced leadership” to deal
with its current economic, affordable housing
and transportation crisis. “We need people
prepared to face the reality of inviting business
investment, making downtown an enjoyable
place to shop and hang out, attracting small
businesses, and expanding tourism without
destroying the environment.” He supports the
living wage, strong unions, permanent jobs,
metering lights on Highway 1, affordable
housing, building public transit, and indoor
resources for the homeless. He is opposed to
safe sleeping zones, as he believes that would
“draw more homeless to our community and
overtax our social and homeless services.” He is
also against increased density in neighborhoods,
and supports greater density near urban
transportation routes, in Beach Flats and on the
UCSC campus. Endorsements include the
Central Labor Council, Democratic Central
Committee, Democratic Women’s Club, GLBT
Alliance, Labor Union Local 270, Operating
Engineers Local 3, People’s Democratic Club,
SEIU Local 415, UC-AFT Local 2199, UCSC
Democrats, UTU Local 23.
Funds Raised: $17,456, with $700 going into a
legal defense fund, outside normal election limits
Contact Info: 423.4209 or email
openup (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 4


Connie Thomasser

Platform: A business professional and a
homeowner, Thomasser says she’d like to see
more school buses on the roads, and supports
the introduction of metering lights on the
highway. She promises to be “a voice for family
neighborhoods, a conscientious committee
participant and representative who wants to
return Santa Cruz to the residents who live,
work and play here.” Says Thomasser, “I will
endeavor to increase communication among the
entire community and work closely with all City
Council members to address your needs and
concerns with renewed energy and excitement; I
believe I can be an integral participant and I
need your vote to make it happen.”
Funds Raised: $350, most in self-loans
Contact Info: vote4connie (at)
Sign Visibility Rating: 1


Karen Woblesky

Platform: A human resources analyst for the
Santa Clara County Fire Department, Woblesky
says we are not making meaningful progress
with solving the problems affecting our
community. “We’re at a crossroads. We’ve
inherited dismal financial health, and our city
has no plan for generating revenue,” says
Woblesky, who stresses that “highways are
major corridors for emergency vehicles” and
that we must maintain police and fire services as
well as repair potholes. “I’m for a balanced
approach to alternative transportation, but my
85-year-old grandma is not able to take a bus or
bike,” says Woblesky, who says she wants to
protect our environment and quality of life,
supporting children, families and seniors,
providing safe streets and public places and a
renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility.
Handy quote: “It’s time to start saying yes to
Funds Raised: $1,000 worth of self- loans
Contact Info:
Sign Visibility Rating: 3


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I Am Not Opposed To Allowances

The fact that the corporate media are no longer ignoring my campaign, and instead are attacking it with falsehoods and also focusing on positions on issues they feel will be unpopular is an indication that my campaign is a growing threat to the boss, landlord, police, and corporate pseudo-progressive establishment alliance in Santa Cruz.

I Am Not Opposed To Allowances!

Dear Editor,

Sarah Phelan’s article "The Contenders" in the last issue of the Metro made the incorrect statement that I am opposed downtown allowances. This has led to a
barrage of protests from school-aged kids living in the downtown area. Everywhere I go I am dogged by protests of angry children who chant things like “Hey, hey, Steven A., How Many Allowances Did You Steal Today!”

Obviously (to me) you were attempting to refer to my position on the downtown ordinances, but the general public would not know that and wonder what I
meant by opposing downtown allowances.

Don’t feel too bad though, much of the press has had a very hard time covering me on the issue of these new ordinances.

For instance in the Mercury News article "Santa Cruz Groups Pick Candidates" by Ken McLaughlin it falsely stated that the City Council imposed "tough new ordinances on aggressive panhandling and harassment of women and gay people downtown." Yet
there is in fact nothing in these new ordinances that targets stopping the harassment of women or gays. Nothing. Nor do the new laws prohibit aggressive panhandling, although there was already a law prohibiting such activity.

The new laws do, however, prohibit blowing bubbles and playing hackysack downtown and in other parts of the City. In addition the new laws make playing music and any other performance for donations, along with political tabling with donation cans, and panhandling in any manner (including with a silent sign), or leaving a backpack unattended illegal in most of the downtown area as well as in some other parts of the

Not only do these new laws not protect women and gays, they will be used by the police against any woman or gay that the police choose to deem in violation of these new laws. In fact the laws were drafted, not out of concern for these groups, but out of concern for a few downtown merchants who complain that certain groups of people that they consider riff-raff scare away their customers.

The new ordinances were passed for selective enforcement against the poor, political activists, and street musicians. And yes, opposing these new ordinances (not allowances) is an important part of my campaign for City Council.

The article also listed my only endorsement as the California Pistol and Rifle Association. For those who saw it, coverage on that issue was fair in the Metro
article "Nuz, Blanks Slate" (despite the name). But readers of only "The Contenders" would not know I have been endorsed by Mark Halfmoon (Chair of the Santa
Cruz Citizen’s Police Review Board), the California Peace & Freedom Party, Homeless United For Friendship & Freedom, the Santa Cruz Coalition To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Political Prisoners, and the Rosa Luxemburg Club.

In addition the article also made visibility ratings in advertising such as lawn signs a criteria. I was given a rating of 1, which is given the meaning, "Dude where's your sign?" This is an unfair consideration boosting those with money who have the backing of wealthy developers and landlords who can afford a bunch of lawn signs. Coca Cola style visibility in advertising should have nothing to do with how we pick our leaders in America. I am not Coca-Cola and I am not Pepsi. It is time for a change.

Sincerely, Steve Argue

Write your own letter to the editor of the Metro Santa
Cruz at: msc (at)

On Gun Control (An earlier letter to Metro editor Sarah Phalen)

The Bill of Rights was produced as a result of poor farmers rising up and demanding certain constitutional protections from the government. Those of course included things like the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The right to bear arms came within this context.

It is essential for the people to be able to defend ourselves, whether it be from pro-corporate Ku Klux Klan thugs that have kept unions from organizing most of the south or murderous cops who are capable, upon order, of kicking in doors and taking the lives of
political dissidents. FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover said we are going to show that "to be a black revolutionary will make you a dead revolutionary." Soon after 40 Black Panther Party members across the country were murdered by FBI agents and local police forces.

While the U.S. government succeeded in its violent suppression of the aspirations of the black community in the late 60s and early 70s, wider crackdowns of dissent are made difficult partly because of the fact that the American people are armed.

It is my opinion that the right to defend ourselves from the government is an important key to defending and broadening democracy in America.

Sincerely, Steve Argue

Subscribe: Liberation_News-subscribe (at)


Metro is Corporate Crap

Why is this corporate crap (article)posted on Indy-media? This article is a sladerous attack on Steve Argue, the only progressive City Council candidate besides Thomas Leavitt.


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