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Sonoma County Gazette
Measures on Ballot.Image:
Measures on Ballot.Image:

Election Time
for Sonoma County

Feb 3, 2020
by Lynda Hopkins, 5th District Supervisor - Sonoma County


It’s election season! District 5 voters will be deciding on measures  addressing schools, fire prevention, and transit. After so many months of digging out from one emergency after another, it is refreshing and exciting to look forward to building solutions for our communities’ future. Here is a bit of background on the measures on the ballot for March, plus one measure that will be on the ballot in November that could use your feedback now. 

Fire/Emergency measure

We get a lot of calls in my office requesting fire prevention assistance. Residents want more vegetation management; fire districts are looking for better emergency warning sirens and alerting systems; and across the board our fire departments, especially those that are rural and/or volunteer-based, need additional funds to support recruitment and retention of local firefighters and emergency personnel. Fire stations also need updated equipment and facilities. In fact, none of our fire stations in the lower river are earthquake safe. In the case of an earthquake, it would be a real problem should our emergency personnel be unable to get out from under the rubble of a fire station that did not have seismic retrofitting done. 

These are the reasons why I served on the County’s Fire Ad Hoc Committee and worked with Fire Chiefs from all over Sonoma County to develop a plan to improve fire services, which led to the Board of Supervisors putting Measure G on the ballot. Measure G will allow voters countywide to decide whether or not to support this plan, and is a ½ cent sales tax to improve fire services, response, prevention, and emergency alert and warning.

Transportation measures

Two ballot measures are coming up that pertain to transportation infrastructure: one in March, and one in November (that needs your input now).

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) District relies on having reliable funding mechanisms that match their long term strategic development. On the March ballot, Measure I asks for an extension for an additional 30 years of the existing ¼ cent voter sales tax. While the current voter-approved sales tax does not expire until 2029, SMART is seeking confirmed funding in order to be able to apply for grants and other funding mechanisms that will supplement local funding. The SMART system’s stated goals are to relieve traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase transportation equity. 

We also have a great opportunity right now to look ahead and proactively guide a measure that will be coming down the pipeline on the November ballot.

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) is planning a reauthorization of Measure M, a 1⁄4 cent sales tax that has funded transportation projects in Sonoma County since 2004. Measure M generates $22-25 million per year, or over $450 million when you add up twenty years. Since Measure M’s passage in 2004, 40% of the funds have been dedicated to widening the 101 freeway—a project which is now complete. 2020 is our chance to update the measure to respond to the imminent threat of climate change and unleash the many public benefits of bicycling, walking, and public transit.  But the SCTA board needs to hear from you right now.

On February 10th, the SCTA board will be considering how to allocate these funds. You can attend (Feb 10, 2:30pm, 411 King St, Santa Rosa) or email the SCTA board members ( to tell them what kind of transportation system you support.  What is your vision? Bicycle boulevards? Free, reliable transit? Electric shuttles? Personally, I think the updated measure should include:

1. At least 60% of its funds dedicated to alternative transportation

 (transit, bike, pedestrian);

2. A free county-wide transit system;

3. Transit frequency that makes public transit feasible for workers,

 students, seniors, disabled and other vulnerable users;

4. Support for quick-build projects that support safe and efficient

 bicycle and pedestrian routes;

5. Continued funding for maintaining our roads (which are used

 by cars, buses, and bicycles alike.)

Some reasons why you might care about improving our public transit and active transportation options:

• Climate Change – We can better steward the Earth and leave

 a livable planet for our children, avoiding more catastrophic wildfires and floods.

• Fairness – By investing in better public transit, we can help

 our families, friends, and neighbors who cannot afford to own a car, or share one car between two working adults, and are struggling to make ends meet. 

• Health – Supporting more active transportation options (walking,

 biking) supports a more healthy population and lower health care costs.

• Community – Cultures around the country and world that prioritize

 walking, biking and transit often have lively, vibrant streets that support rich community.

• Economy – Walkable, bikable streets are good for our local

 businesses, as they struggle to compete with online retail. Strong public transit also helps workers commute efficiently and affordably.

Local Sonoma County initiatives include:

Measure B West Sonoma County Union High School District: $79 parcel tax to renew and provide stable funding that the State cannot take away; maintain and improve the schools’ woodshop, culinary, media and other career technical education programs; keep school libraries open; and maintain/improve the schools’ art, music and drama programs.

Measure C Bellevue Union School District:  bond measure to improve the quality of local schools without increasing estimated tax rates; replace deteriorating plumbing systems; improve student access to computers and modern technology; and modernize/renovate classrooms, restrooms and school facilities.

Measure D Roseland School District: bond measure to modernize and renovate outdated classrooms, restrooms and school facilities; repair or replace roofs; acquire land; and make health and safety improvements.

Measure E Sebastopol Union School District: bond measure to improve the quality of local schools; increase energy-efficiency by installing solar panels; make health and safety improvements; and modernize outdated classrooms, restrooms and school facilities.

March 3rd Sonoma County Election Dates to Remember

1.   February 3, 2020

First day to vote-by-mail

2.   February 18, 2020

Last day to register to vote

3.   February 25, 2020

Last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by mail

4.   March 3, 2020

Election Day: Polls are open 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Become a Poll Worker!

• Being a poll worker is a great way to serve your community, take an active role in democracy, and become part of the dedicated team working to make the election process easy and accessible to everyone.

• Poll workers who work at a polling place are volunteers who are provided a stipend of $135 (for Inspectors) and $100 (for Clerks) for the day. Each polling place has a Precinct Board comprised of one Inspector and two to four Clerks.

Who Can be a Poll Worker?

To Be a Poll Worker, you must meet the following criteria:

•   Be a registered voter in Sonoma County or a permanent

 legal resident of the United States (permanent legal residents may work as clerks only)

•  Be a high school student who is at least 16 years old

 (see Student Precinct Officer Program)

•   Be able to follow written and verbal instruction

•   Be available to serve Election Day from approximately

 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM ("split shifts" may be arranged; contact the Registrar of Voters Office for details)

•  Be able to complete the tasks as described in the Inspector

 or Clerk job duties (see below)

Are You Bilingual?

The County of Sonoma is actively recruiting bilingual poll workers

 to serve their communities. We need your help if you are fluent in English and any of the following languages:

•  Khmer

•  Spanish

•  Tagalog

•  Vietnamese


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