by Ryan Burns
In an unorthodox meeting flooded with eager contenders and curious onlookers, The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee tonight agreed to endorse incumbent Bonnie Neely in the race for 4th District county supervisor but could not reach the two-thirds threshold required to officially support candidates in several other key June 8 races, including 5th District supervisor and District Attorney.
"We're a victim of our own success," said HCDCC Chair Milt Boyd, referencing the unusually large number of Democratic contenders vying for endorsements. With 25 voting members on the committee, the magic number for endorsement was 17. After listening to each candidate give a four-minute presentation -- followed in most cases by two minutes of q-and-a -- the committee dismissed the candidates, then reconvened to cast their votes. (This without debate, to the disappointment of several in attendance including a noticeably annoyed Shane Brinton, Arcata City Councilman and staunch Paul Hagen supporter.)
Most notably, incumbent DA Paul Gallegos failed to earn the Democratic seal of approval (in a crowded field of four Democratic nominees), garnering just 10 yea votes to 11 nays and four abstentions. Hagen also fell short with four yeas, 16 nays. Allison Jackson garnered eight yeas and 13 nays, while Kathleen Bryson failed to even earn a motion for consideration.
Fourth District challenger Virginia Bass faced skepticism about her Democratic bona fides (she recently changed parties) while Eureka City Councilman Jeff Leonard earned polite applause but apparently little in the way of serious consideration. (Neely earned this endorsement with 18 yeas before the other candidates could be considered.)
In the 5th District race, Pat Higgins fell short (12 yeas, nine nays) as did Patrick Cleary (11 yeas, 11 nays).
The only other candidates to earn endorsements after facing the committee were Assessor hopeful John Brooks (17 yeas, four nays) and Auditor-Controller contender Joseph Mellett (who's the Deputy A-C and thus far unopposed).
Candidates for state and national office fared better despite being absent. The HCDCC agreed to endorse longtime First District U.S. Congress incumbent Mike Thompson (24 yeas), as well as First District State Assemblyman incumbent Wesley Chesbro (unanimous!) and State Senate hopeful Noreen Evans (19 yeas, two nays).