Every year voters receive a small booklet of information that includes a list of candidates, descriptions of upcoming ballot measures and arguments for and against. Most of us give those arguments – 300 words each of pros, cons and one rebuttal apiece – little thought. But most of us aren’t Scotty McClure, a board trustee for the Southern Humboldt Unified School District, vocal Donald Trump supporter, anti-taxxer and civic enthusiast.
When the opportunity arose for residents in the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District to weigh in on Measure W – a special election measure that would create a $170 a year parcel tax within the district’s boundaries, McClure jumped at the opportunity. He labored over his con statement, grudgingly complying with requests it be edited for length. When given the opportunity to answer the pro-measure W’s rebuttal, he shot back with a succinct opinion that couldn't be edited for length: “Insert fart smell here.”
Those four simple words have made things fairly complicated for the Humboldt County Elections Office, which is required to get the voter pamphlet out no later than March 8 for the May 2 vote. The elections clerk, Kelly Sanders, objects to sending voters a packet with a fart joke. But the date to submit pro and con arguments has passed, and McClure’s was the only submission. McClure, currently vacationing in Arizona, is holding his ground.
“I could understand why if I were cutting somebody down, but I’m not,” said McClure, adding that “fart” is not a profanity.
Because McClure refuses to withdraw or amend his irreverent statement, Sanders has been forced to seek a court order to delete the offending words because state law doesn't give elections officials discretion to censor ballot arguments. Instead, the California Municipal Code states that during the public examination period for elections material “any voter … or the elections material may seek a writ of mandate or an injunction requiring any material to be amended or deleted.” Deputy County Counsel Joel Ellinwood explained more clearly why the fart joke is going to court.
“It’s my client’s position that that is not consistent with the elections code as interpreted through case law,” said Ellinwood. “My client has no authority to independently interpret what should and should not be a valid argument. If there is a question about that, it has to be put before the judge.”
Ellinwood refers to the part of the municipal code that might prompt Judge Timothy Cissna, in front of whom the matter will be debated, to issue a writ of mandate or injunction, which refers to material that is “false, misleading or inconsistent.”
Reached by phone, Steve Chessin, president of Californians for Electoral Reform, said that at first blush the phrase, “insert fart smell here,” did not seem to be meet the criteria of being “false, misleading or inconsistent,” although he hastened to say this was only his personal opinion and he might revise it after reviewing the full pro-and-con rebuttals.
The Humboldt County Office of Elections sent us transcripts of the pro and con arguments (below).
Ellinwood is pushing for a March 6 court date, when McClure will be back from Arizona, which will put the county just under the wire to distribute the pamphlets by deadline.
“My client feels strongly about the integrity of the elections process,” said Ellinwood in a phone interview this morning. “She feels that profane expressions that don’t provide information for the voters don’t belong in official elections material.”
He added that it was “inappropriate” for taxpayers to fund for the distribution of “irrelevant or scatological material.”
McClure interprets the injunctive action, in which the board of supervisors will be named as the respondent and McClure will be listed as the party of interest, differently.
“The elections department does not have a right to censor me,” he said, adding that the close date has put a damper on his Southwestern vacation.
The outcome of the hearing, tentatively scheduled for March 6, may set local precedent for the fate of future fart jokes in election material.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to reflect new material sent to us by the elections office.
A pro-Trump counter protester at the Old Town gazebo on Thursday evening.
Anger. Vindication. Fear. Hope. Despair. A flood of emotion has washed over the country in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s stunning Nov. 8 upset to become the president-elect following one of the most divisive presidential contests in generations. In the face of this historic event, and the turmoil that’s followed, we want to hear from you, Humboldt. Or, more accurately, we want the president-elect to hear from you. So we’re asking readers to send us letters of 45 words or less addressed to the incoming 45th president of the United States. Send submission to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.
Humboldt County voters faced a total of 18 measures on their ballots.
With the final election night report posted, measures seeking to bring a true ward voting system to Eureka and put mobile home parks located within unincorporated areas of the county under rent control have won handily. Other items of note: Humboldt voters passed school bonds everywhere but Ferndale; tax measures were successful other than Measure U, which sought to impose a countywide .5 percent sales tax to finance road repairs; and the proposed consolidation of the county Auditor-Controller's office with that of the Treasurer-Tax Collector was soundly defeated.
Scroll down to see the final election night tallies, and check out the full report here.
With the second round of local returns, it looks like measures P and V are holding strong. Scroll down for updated results, with 14.9 percent of precincts now reporting.
Taxes, bonds, true wards, rent control and more taxes — Humboldt ballots were stacked with local measures this election.
With roughly 15 percent of the vote in and zero precincts reporting, ballot measures to switch Eureka to a true ward voting system and stabilize rents in county mobile home parks are passing. Local tax measures are fairing well — save for Measure U, the countywide sales tax for transportation funding, which is currently trailing. And local school bond measures are doing well early on, with the exception of Ferndale's, which is trailing narrowly.
The final election night reported has been posted with 100 percent of Humboldt County precincts reporting, and not much has changed with local contested city council races.
Austin Allison has bested John Fullerton in Eureka's 4th Ward, the Arcata incumbents have held their seats, incumbent Ferndale Mayor Don Hindley has won himself another term and Frank Wilson and Susan Strahan have secured victories in Rio Dell.
With the third report posted and 37.8 percent of Humboldt County precincts reporting, Austin Allison continues to widen his lead over John Fullerton in the race to become Eureka’s next 4th Ward council member. Allison has widened his lead to about 550 votes, and leads by more than 10 percentage points — 54 to 44.
Up in Arcata, meanwhile, the three incumbents — Susan Ornelas, Michael Winkler and Paul Pitino — continue to hold seemingly insurmountable leads over challengers Daniel Murphy and Valerie Rose-Campbell, with Ornelas leading the way with 28.52 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Don Hindley is dominating challenger Steve Nunes in the Ferndale mayoral race, taking 72.2 percent of the vote to Nunes’ 25.85 percent.
Farther south, an interesting race is taking shape in Rio Dell, where three candidates — Frank Wilson, Susan Strahan and Bryan K. Richter — are vying for two seats. Currently Strahan leads the pack with 37.65 percent of the vote, followed by Wilson with 32.01 percent and Richter with 29.1 percent.
1st UPDATE: Austin Allison expanded his lead in the 4th Ward race for a Eureka City Council seat with 53.94 percent of the vote to John Fullerton’s 45.68 percent in the second round of election results.
Allison said he had his “fingers crossed” and wanted to thank everyone involved in his campaign.
“I’m just so thankful for the community taking the time to vote for me and supporting my platform,” he said.
Fullerton said he was also waiting to see more numbers, including outstanding absentee ballots, and noted his 30-year commitment to serving the community will not change regardless of the results.
“I will continue to do that in the future,” he said.
Fullerton added that he believes Allison has “a lot to learn” about the city and its communities.
“I will be glad to get him up to speed if he wants my help,” Fullerton said.
Meanwhile, numbers for the remaining races stayed the same.
PREVIOUSLY: Austin Allison took an early lead in the race to represent Eureka’s 4th ward with 50.94 percent of the vote over fellow contender John Fullerton’s 48.61 percent in the city’s only contested council race this election.
While the two candidates showed little in the way of major differences on the main issues facing the city at debates, the campaign took on a certain new guard versus old guard air when it came what they brought to the dais.
Fullerton — an accountant and 40-year resident of Eureka — touted his experience as a business owner with a track record of civic service, including his appointments to the Humboldt County Budget Oversight Committee and the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Eureka general plan. He also se
rved as an elected member of the Eureka City Schools board.
In contrast, Allison highlighted his young age — he’s 25 — and relatively newness to the city, having moved to Eureka in 2009, with the St. Joseph Hospital cardiac monitor technician and his supporters saying he would bring a fresh perspective, new energy and a positive outlook to the role.
The seat is currently held by Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini, who decided not to run for reelection. Eureka Faith Center co-pastor Heidi Messner ran unopposed for the city’s 2nd Ward seat.
Over in Arcata, incumbents Michael Winkler, Susan Ornelas and Paul Pitino are looking likely to remain in their seats, garnering 28.48 percent, 27.88 percent, and 24.06 percent of the vote, respectively, to challengers Daniel Murphy, at 9.68 percent, and Valerie Rose-Campbell, at 9.33 percent.
Blue Lake incumbent Adelene Jones was ahead in the race for the three open council seats with 44.44 percent of the vote, with write-in candidates Barbara Ricca at 20 percent, Deborah Ann Jacobsen at 6.67 percent and Summer Daugherty at 20.56 percent.
The race for Ferndale’s mayor had incumbent Don Hindley at 72.20 percent, ahead of challenger Steve Nunes with 25.85 percent.
Rio Dell has three candidates going after two open council seats. Incumbent Frank Wilson was at 32.29 percent of the vote compared to challengers Bryan K. Richter, at 27.80 percent, and Susan Strahan at 39.01percent.
With the final election night tallies in, 59 percent of voters in Humboldt County supported legalizing recreational marijuana possession, cultivation, use and sales, following suit with the rest of the state.
Click here to see how all the state propositions fared.
With more than 40 percent of the vote in, California seems poised to legalize recreational marijuana. Proposition 64 holds 55.6 percent of the vote statewide, and has garnered almost 60 percent of the Humboldt County vote.
Propositions to restrict firearm and ammunition sales, ease criminal sentencing and tax cigarettes are also leaping out to commanding leads. Meanwhile, Proposition 62, which seeks to repeal the death penalty, is trailing by nearly 10 points.
And it’s perhaps no surprise that our North Coast state and federal representatives — Congressman Jared Huffman and Assemblyman Jim Wood — seem poised to coast to re-election, both capturing more than 70 percent of the vote thus far. Scroll down for a link to the Secretary of State’s website, which can keep you posted on the propositions.
While Trump and Clinton have dominated headlines and airwaves for months, California’s 17 propositions — including ones to abolish the death penalty and legalize recreational marijuana — have been relegated to almost an afterthought, as have local down ballot races.
Based on early returns, it looks like our local North Coast state and federal representatives — Assemblyman Jim Wood and Congressman Jared Huffman — will cruise to re-election. Meanwhile, Proposition 64 — which would legalize recreational marijuana — has an early statewide lead. (Read past coverage Journalhere, and arguments for and against here and here, respectively.)
With 17 percent of state precincts reporting, Proposition 64 is garnering 55.4 percent of the vote. That lead is even stronger in Humboldt County's early vote, with almost 60 percent voting in favor of recreational legalization.
With 17 percent of precincts reporting, Huffman has jumped out to a strong lead over Republican challenger Dale Mensing, taking 77.5 percent of the vote to Mensing's 22.5. Wood, meanwhile, holds a similar lead, having taken 75 percent of the vote over Libertarian challenger Ken Anton with 20 percent of precincts reporting. Both Huffman and Wood's leads are slightly narrower in Humboldt County, based on early vote tallies.
For up to the moment returns on state propositions, check out the Secretary of State’s website here. And, we’ll keep you updated as we can.
Emily Lynn leaves the Veteran’s Memorial Building after casting her first ballot in a presidential election. According to poll worker Byrd Lochtie, there has been a line out the door since the polls opened.
It’s a stressful day, we get it. You’re spending the afternoon hovered over some kind of screen, watching pundits breathlessly report the first round of exit polls. And, you may be feeling the anxiety rise in your gut because you haven’t voted yet. Or maybe you voted by mail weeks ago but find yourself suddenly sure the system really is rigged and your vote will never be counted.
If either of those hypotheticals apply to you, relax, we’ve got you covered.
Local polls will remain open until 8 p.m., so you’ve got some time. Don’t know where your polling location is? This link will take care of you. Don’t know what’s on the ballot? Click here. Don’t know what to make of all those propositions? Check in with the folks over at Ballotpedia.org. If you need some added motivation, check out local poll worker Juanita Claybon's picture below for a visual pep talk about how fabulous voting can be.
And if it’s just that vote-by-mail ballot that’s filling you with doubt, you can check its status online. Just visit the Humboldt County Elections Office website at www.humboldtgov.org/elections. Click the Vote by Mail link on the left and scroll down to the Vote-by-Mail Ballot Status section and follow the instructions.
If neither of those situations apply and you’re still fraught with doubt and worry, there’s not much we can do for you other than to say we touched base with Kelly Sanders, Humboldt County’s registrar of voters, and she reports all is going smooth at this point.
Sanders says her office has gotten a few reports of some failed devices at the polls, but has been able to swap them out with backups in short order. There have been some reports of longer-than-usual lines at some polling locations, but Sanders said that’s probably due to a higher-than-usual turnout, coupled with a mammoth two-page ballot. “It’s a lot to go through,” she said.
The county should have its first results posted shortly after the polls close, Sanders said, noting that her office has about 12,000 early vote and mail-in ballots ready to go.
That's the best we can do to set your mind at ease, other than to say it'll all be over soon. Check back with us through the night for updates on local results.
Election worker Juanita Claybon was dressed to the nines on election day in Eureka. Claybon said it was her second time working the polls and that it was a lot of fun.
The final election night report is up and shows incumbent Estelle Fennell cementing her landslide re-election bid, having won 77 percent of the vote to challenger Glen “Bud” Rogers’ 22 percent.
While there are still votes to be tallied, the final election night count has Fennell finishing with 3,503 of the 4,563 votes cast in the race.
With 82 percent of precincts now reporting, incumbent 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell is holding steady, with 78 percent of the vote to challenger Glen “Bud” Rogers 22 percent.
Fennell now has 2,480 votes to Rogers’ 693, having dominated both the early vote counts and the Election Day turnouts by more than 50-point margins.
With 43 percent of Humboldt County precincts reporting, including at least a couple in SoHum, things aren’t looking much better for challenger Glen “Bud” Rogers, who’s trailing incumbent Estelle Fennell by 56 points.
Fennell has largely retained her early lead, now holding 77.5 percent of the vote to Rogers’ 22 percent with 2,436 votes cast in the contest. So far, Fennell has taken 74 percent of the Election Day vote, a slight drop off from the 78 percent of the early ballots she took in the first election night report. There are still plenty of votes to be counted — the race saw a total of 6,950 ballots cast four years ago — but Fennell’s lead is looking insurmountable.
Incumbent 2nd District Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell has leapt out to a commanding early lead in in her re-election bid, taking 78 percent of the first batch of ballots cast in the race that sees her pitted against challenger Glen "Bud" Rogers.
Fennell has taken 1,546 of the 1,974 ballots counted thus far — all vote-by-mail ballots that showed up early to the Elections Office or those cast in person in the office prior to Election Day.
Fennell, who edged out incumbent Clif Clendenen to take her board seat in 2012, made a name for herself locally serving as news director at KMUD for 17 years. Then, Fennell worked as the executive director of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights for three before making a run for supervisor.
She’s campaigned largely on her experience in the position, saying she’s set up office hours in Garberville and Fortuna, helped facilitate the Supervisors’ first ever official meeting in Redway and worked to get Supes meetings live-streamed in Southern Humboldt, all to make her more accessible to her constituents. Fennell has also made a point of trumpeting her work to benefit the 2nd District directly, noting her work to repair the Garberville library, permit the Southern Humboldt Community Park, secure funding for a water tank in Fortuna and to clear fire hazards in the Bear Canyon area north of Garberville.
Rogers, a Vietnam veteran from the San Joaquin Valley and substitute teacher turned banjo maker and KMUD DJ, meanwhile has kept a hyper local focus in his second run for a board seat. (His first ended unsuccessfully in 2004, with a loss to incumbent Roger Rodoni.) Rogers has focused on bringing new ideas to the board, like creating tiny home villages for the homeless, morphing Humboldt into a charter county with a public bank and exercising more autonomy to take on big issues, like chemtrails — the alleged control of the weather and populace via the secret distribution of hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere.
Rogers has also taken a stand against the U.S. Highway 101 widening project at Richardson Grove, saying it’s a way to allow big box stores a stronger foothold in Humboldt County.
The differences in the two candidates is stark, perhaps underscored by their disparate campaign financing efforts. By the end of April, Fennell had raised almost $45,000 and already spent almost $25,000 on local advertising and signs. At the same point, Rogers had yet to raise a dime, according to campaign finance disclosure reports filed with the county.
For more on the candidates and the race, including their favorite movies, books and role models, check out past Journal coverage here.
With 100 percent of Humboldt County precincts reporting, the final election night tally has Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson finishing with 82 percent of the vote to become the county’s next 3rd District supervisor.
While there are still votes to be counted, Wilson finishes the night with 5,076 of the 6,204 ballots cast in the race.
Results from 100 out of 121 Humboldt County precincts are in, and Mike Wilson’s lead has grown. With Election Day ballots even higher in Wilson’s favor than mail-ins, the 3rd District candidate now has 80.47 percent of the vote to Uri Driscoll’s 18.78 percent.
Total vote tally so far:
Mike Wilson’s lead dropped less than a percentage point with the second report of the night, which counted 52 of 121 Humboldt County precincts reporting.
It appears not many 3rd District precincts were included, though, as the second report only adds 135 total votes to the race. Wilson got 94 of those, with Uri Driscoll pulling 39. The totals are as follows:
Total votes: 2,127
Total votes: 520
Third District Supervisor candidate Mike Wilson holds a commanding lead in the first report of Election Day.
With vote by mail ballots and early votes tallied, Wilson took 2,033 votes — 80 percent — to Uri Driscoll’s 481 votes.
Ballots cast at the polls today have yet to be tallied.
This is the first supervisorial campaign for either candidate. Current 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace announced last year he would not seek re-election for a third term.
Wilson has served on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District board for 10 years, presiding over that board's shift in the politics toward expanded aquaculture, conservation and recreation projects, including the district’s cleanup of the Samoa pulp mill.
He’d won wide support among the 3rd District’s left-leaning politicos, saying that, if elected, he would continue his effort to plan for an economic and environmental future for the county. That requires responses to homelessness, a commitment to economic diversity, an adaptive marijuana industry and the flexibility to address those issues with limited budgets. He’s also been a long-time trails supporter.
Driscoll has never served in public office, but said his experience as a farrier and a variety of other jobs made him the ideal candidate for the 3rd District. He too said the county’s economy was a primary issue and expressed concerns about homelessness, affordable housing and drug use.
A strong local economy would have limited the influence of “outside forces,” he told the Journal, and he called for robust industrial and commercial zones as well as protections for agricultural lands.
See previous coverage on the candidates and the 3rd District election here. See updating results for the 2nd District Supervisor's race here, and see local presidential primary results here.
Whether you’re feeling the Bern, heading for the Hill or dying to see Trump make Humboldt great again, we realize there’s a lot of interest in the outcome of this presidential primary. And, we figure, you want to see how your neighbors feel about the whole thing. With that in mind, we’ll update this post periodically with how the big dogs are faring, both up on our little stage here behind the redwood curtain, and in the delegate-rich battleground that is California. But, please, keep it civil out there.
Humboldt's early voters are clearly feeling the Bern, as Sanders has grabbed 59 percent of the first batch of ballots counted to Clinton's 37 percent. Those numbers more than flip statewide, with Clinton holding 64 percent of the early vote to Sanders' 35.
On the Republican side of things, presumptive nominee Donald Trump has taken 73 percent of Humboldt's early vote while John Kasich and Ted Cruz have each pulled more than 9 percent of the vote despite having long since dropped out of the race.
When Hillary Clinton strolled on stage in Brooklyn tonight to declare victory in her quest to become the first woman to become the presumptive nominee of a major political party in the nation’s history, she did so to the sounds of a Eureka native.
On the heels of her wins in the New Jersey and New Mexico primaries — wins that are projected to make her delegate lead completely insurmountable — Clinton took the stage in Brooklyn ready to turn the page on the primary season. She chose Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” as the appropriate theme song for the moment, which apparently tickled the singer, who tweeted out:
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is continuing to do well in Humboldt, having taken 62 percent of the vote so far and doing markedly better at the polls — where he’s drawn 72 percent of the vote — than he did in the early voting (59 percent of the vote). But Clinton still holds a hefty lead in the Golden State, as she holds 62 percent of the vote with just over 20 percent of precincts reporting statewide.
On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump’s holding steady with 72 percent of the HumCo vote, though it’s worth noting that the long departed John Kasich and Ted Cruz continue to pull votes, taking in 9 and 10 percent of the vote, respectively, potentially a sign that the Republican party is still hesitant to rally around its controversial presumptive nominee. Those numbers aren’t far off their statewide counterparts, which have Trump with almost 78 percent of the vote, Kasich with 11 percent and Cruz with 8 percent.
With 82 percent of precincts reporting, the plucky Bernie Sanders continues to hold a strong Humboldt County lead over now presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. And, statewide, with 40 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders continues to cut into Clinton’s lead.
In Humboldt, Sanders has taken more than 65 percent of the Democratic primary vote to Clinton’s 32 percent. Throughout the Golden State, Clinton still holds a commanding 20-point lead but it has shrunk slightly. Sanders is now pulling 39 percent of the vote, up from 35 percent in the first returns, to Clinton’s 59 percent, down a handful of points from the 64 percent of the vote she held early on.
Kelly Erben casts her ballot at a local precinct, which turned out to be pretty lonely places on Election Day.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors certified the county’s election results this morning, making official what’s long been known: Harbor District incumbents Pat Higgins and Greg Dale have each won four more years on the board.