A Big Win for Marin County

A Big Win for Marin County

The June 3rd Marin County election resulted in Damon Connolly crushing a 12 year incumbent Supervisor Susan Adams – an immense achievement over adversity. Meanwhile Toni Shroyer came out of nowhere against a 20 year incumbent Judy Arnold and almost pipped her at the post (and in one erroneous TV report actually won).

The Higher Level Takeaway of the Election Result

As important as the individual win, and of this incredibly tight race in Novato, is the higher level takeaway:

if you’re an elected then you promote high density housing in Marin at your peril, opponents vastly outnumber a small number of loud proponents.

A Conversation with Congressmen Jared Huffman

Congressman Jared HuffmanI also enjoyed an excellent conversation with Congressman Jared Huffman last night. Huffman shared with me that he thought the debate about Plan Bay Area and high density was irrelevant and people were missing the point – the relevant debate is about water – and there isn’t any. He correctly pointed out that WinCup replaced an industrial building that used more water, but foresaw that Larkspur Landing would not go through. To hear this from a senior Democrat was a very significant signal to me.

I asked Huffman if he agreed with the concept that a given area had a “carrying capacity” – he agreed questioning ABAG’s population projections.

Finally I asked Jared about California High Speed Rail – he is a supporter. Well there’s a reality check for me – the world isn’t perfect. But I’ll take his support of the water issues, carrying capacity and his foresight into the outcome of Larkspur Landing.

A City and District Finally United

Damon WinsMayor Phillips of San Rafael actually predicted the result of Connolly’s win – 60/40 (if you round to the nearest whole number I believe he is spot on!) . A secondary takeaway that will be of immense benefit to both San Rafael and District 1 is that now after over a decade both are united and supportive of each other. We (as of January when Damon’s term commences) will have a supervisor, a mayor and the entire city council supportive of each other instead of having an antagonizing relationship.

In so many conversations I had with Adams she would try to redirect me to point the heat away from her and back at the city. When pushing on the county’s Housing Element which fixated on rezoning for high density housing she would repeatedly ask why didn’t I put the same pressure on the city of San Rafael which had a much higher housing unit quota. The answer is that the city had the quota covered already without rezoning high density.

It helped too that the city, led by the terrific Paul Jensen, demonstrated true transparency and responsiveness. When questions were asked of San Rafael the responses were thorough and quickly delivered. The city went out of its way to help build understanding. By comparison questions submitted to the county were either not responded to, responded to with bluster and spin or came 3 months later without answering the question.

What’s Next?

Today is a great day for transparency and accountability in Marin. All of us should celebrate this great victory for our wonderful county.

It will be interesting to watch the supervisors who surely received a jolt last night that if they continue to over-represent special interests – such as developers or a tiny minority holding fervent beliefs in high density – then they will find their support becoming anaemic at the election booth. Time to re-engage, re-evaluate, and restore Marin to a course away from destructive high density housing.

Other Links:

Damon’s victory speech – Gaspares, June 3rd – moving words from the new supervisor elect: