State Senator Dave Cox, who represented numerous parts of outlying California, including Mono County, passed away on July 13. The filing deadline is tomorrow, Aug. 6 for those seeking to run for his open seat. That’s how quickly things are moving, at least up front, to put the mechanism in place for the election to fill his seat. Of concern to Mono County’s Board of Supervisors, however, is that whatever happens, it may not be fast enough to assure full representation for the County as the legislature plows ahead through its state budget quagmire.
Supervisor Hap Hazard briefed fellow Board members and County staff on Tuesday on his recent findings while in the state capitol during the past week or so. Hazard, who was in Sacramento to attend various meetings (and take in some of the State Fair), met with staff in the Governor’s office to discuss the disposition of Cox’s seat. It was, he related, somewhat hard to keep track of, since things were constantly changing.
Ultimately Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to proclaim a special election to fill Cox’s vacancy. State law prohibits him from making any interim appointments to cover the remainder of Cox’s term. A primary election will therefore be added to the Nov. 2 general ballot, with a final special election vote to follow on Jan. 4, 2011.
One of Supervisor Hazard’s big concerns is that, even though the election is being put together with great alacrity, during the down time Sacramento lawmakers are still moving ahead with budget work, and Cox’s district essentially lacks key representation in the state legislature that is crucial during budget time.
“[Senator Cox] was a leader on the budget committee, and protected [small, rural counties] from the tricks and gimmicks that have taken place in Sacramento during the last several years,” Hazard said. “When the state planned on taking local tax revenues or planned to delay the paying of their bills to the county that support our local roads, and health and law enforcement services, he stood up for us, he made a difference. With his passing we find ourselves, and the other 11 rural counties he represented, without a voice in Sacramento during these ongoing budget battles.”
At least a few candidates are expected to throw their hat in the ring, and ideas for area “meet and greet” events are already being kicked around. Hazard said the expectation is that candidates will begin pounding the pavement as soon as the end of the month through early October, and he expects most of them to be at least well behind the curve when it comes to knowledge and background of Mono County’s situation.
“It’s very likely that there will be candidates seeking our votes who will have little or no known experience with Mono County,” he opined, adding he’s already been contacted and asked for his support and/or outright endorsement. He said any candidate that files to run for the District 1 Senate seat will be offered the following:
1) A forwarded copy of a candidate’s biography (if provided in electronic format) to his community e-mail list.
2) An offer for the candidate to meet in the North and South counties with the citizens of Mono County at a public meeting. These meetings should take place between late August and early October if they are to happen.
3) Forward copies to his community e-mail list of any candidate’s senate position papers outlining their goals, desires or plans for Mono County or the Senate District.
“It is important for this community to have an opportunity to know these candidates and understand their positions before voting,” Hazard added.