Voters small in numbers, big in opinion
November 4, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – South Lake Tahoe voters went to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on three local board races and a measure that would temporarily use bike trail maintenance funds to repair Little League fields.
Early results for El Dorado County reflected an 18 percent voter turnout, compared 30 percent in the 2007 special election, according to county recorder-clerk William Schultz.
“It’s a little low,” Schultz said.
On election day, Schultz said the South Lake Tahoe elections office had a steady flow of voters requesting a new ballot after losing or damaging their mail-in ballot. Because voter turnout was expected to be around 25 percent, only four polling places were open and 10,000 registered voters received the mail-in ballots.
Sally Proctor of South Lake Tahoe voted at the Lake Tahoe Community College Tuesday night since she forgot to mail in her ballot. Proctor said she voted for the incumbents for the LTCC and the South Tahoe Public Utility District boards.
“I’m just glad to vote,” Proctor said.
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Carry Loomis of South Lake Tahoe said there wasn’t a particular issue that drew her to the polls, but that voting is an important part of her civic duty.
“I’ve voted in every election since I was 18,” Loomis said.
For other voters, it was important to show local support.
“Well, to support the candidates is the big thing,” said Bob Rossi of South Lake Tahoe, who cast his ballot at the Lake Tahoe Airport. “I think it’s important to vote.”
Rossi said he was also in favor of Measure B.
“I think it’s important for the kids,” he said. “I think it’s something that needs to be fixed.”
Measure B sets out to amend Measure S, a property tax approved by voters in 2000 to fund an ice arena, athletic fields and Tahoe Paradise Park facilities. The special tax – $18 per year for single-family homes – also generates $125,000 per year to maintain 25 miles of bicycle trails to be built after the measure passed.
But only 7.7 miles of trail have been built since September of 2000, which leaves $86,000 in trail maintenance money unused each year. About $250,000 has already accumulated, and if Measure B passes, the funds will be used to repair Little League fields on Rufus Allen Boulevard at Lyons Avenue.
The measure was placed on the ballot by the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Facilities Joint Powers Authority, composed of representatives from the city, El Dorado County and the Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District, and formed to oversee spending of Measure S funds.
Michael Clark of Meyers, who voted at the airport, said he was in favor of Measure B.
“In my opinion, we should spend some money and make something in our community now,” he said.
Clark wasn’t bothered that local races dominated the ballot. He said the local focus increased the need to head to the polls.
“If you have an opinion, you should voice it,” Clark said.
Mike Domas of Meyers, who also voted at the airport, opposed Measure B. He said the cycling community should have been more involved in drafting of the measure.
“Keep the money where it belongs,” Domas said.
For the Lake Tahoe Community College Board, incumbents Roberta Mason, Molly Blann and board president Kerry David challenged former LTCC business instructor Mary Jane Sanchez-Fulton.
Voter Debbie Wilson said she felt strong about the college board race because of cutbacks due to the weakened economy.
“I felt it was important to read about each candidate and see what direction they would go,” Wilson said, adding that she voted for Mason, who has been on the board since the college opened in the 1970s.
For the school district, incumbent and board president Wendy David and incumbent Duane Wallace faced challenger Judy Cefalu.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District race had the largest field of candidates, with 10 players vying for three open seats. An additional candidate, Jim Martin, announced he was dropping out of the race on Oct. 16, citing health and personal issues. Still, his name remained on the ballot.
Seat 1 candidates included incumbent Ernie Claudio and challengers John Adamski and Chris Cefalu. Seat 2 candidates were incumbent Jim Jones and challengers Ken Curtzwiler, Tod Williamson and John Runnels. For seat 5, Scott Swift and Peggy Cocores challenged incumbent Eric Schafer.