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May 24-31, 2006

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Boutelle, Krohn and Coonerty

Going to the candidate's debate: Boutelle, Krohn and Coonerty state their cases.


Metro Santa Cruz endorses Neal Coonerty for District 3 county supervisor

It's tempting to liken Santa Cruz county supervisor candidates Jonathan Boutelle, Neal Coonerty and Chris Krohn to three generations of leftists: the old-school blue collar union man, the baby boomer whose '60s ideals face pragmatic realities, and more recently, the no-growth homeowner who embraces environmentalism as a synonym for "Not in My Backyard."

Obviously, these are broad characterizations, yet they can serve as a useful framework for viewing the differences between candidates who have all been characterized as Santa Cruz progressives.

Krohn, an environmental intern coordinator at UCSC, emphasizes "preserving our quality of life," but it's unclear how inclusive his particular vision is. While the would-be populist listed a Beach Flats address when filing his candidacy with the elections board (Krohn does own rental property in that neighborhood), he and his family actually reside in a West Side manor valued at closer to $2 million. Krohn expresses, often eloquently, Santa Cruz's highest ideals, but his political days seemed largely focused on national issues. Were he elected supervisor, at least Santa Cruz County would not take it upon itself to invade the Middle East.

Boutelle, the old-school leftist, comes from a carpentry and union background and is blessed with a particularly sharp wit. Unfortunately, apart from his experience as a labor activist, he's virtually untested in the realm of political leadership and negotiation at a time when such skills are essential. Still, Boutelle's views are refreshing and we hope to hear a good deal more from him in the future.

The best candidate for the job, we believe, is Coonerty. As a former councilmember and mayor, he was instrumental in the complex task of establishing a greenbelt around Santa Cruz as well as providing a much-needed emphasis on the city's financial health. Coonerty is also a conscientious businessman who kept Bookshop Santa Cruz alive through one earthquake and two Bush administrations. To this day, the store remains a vital institution, affectionately referred to as "Santa Cruz's living room," which continues to support dozens of struggling nonprofit programs while serving as a focal point in preserving the identity of downtown Santa Cruz.

During a debate last week, Krohn and Boutelle both played to type on the subject of tourist traffic. Krohn favored "fun ways to get around: the fire truck, the horse-drawn carriage," which he said would make Santa Cruz "just like going to Disneyland." Boutelle countered by suggesting "an old army bus and a pair of mules."

Coonerty's pragmatism may not steer the county toward Disneyland rides or mule trains, but it does contribute to his status as our most qualified candidate. Coonerty steadfastly conveys a personal sense of vision and trustworthiness, a sense of confidence that he has the ability to solve problems, to build consensus and to exercise leadership at a time when the stakes are too high to choose otherwise.

For these reasons, Metro Santa Cruz urges you to vote for Neal Coonerty in the race for District 3 county supervisor.

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