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Monday, March 24, 2008

Who is Cathy Kennedy--the Would Be 4th District County Supervisor?

On Saturday at the Davis Farmer's Market I met Cathy Kennedy for the first time. She is a very nice lady with an infectious personality. Bit by bit, I have been able to kind of piece together who this individual is who is running for the Yolo County Board of Supervisors against both Former School Board Member Jim Provenza and State Senator Denise Ducheney Chief of Staff John Ferrera.

On her ballot statement she writes,
"As Supervisor, I’ll bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the same old problems that continue to plague county government. I’ll tackle these challenges head-on, with a unique blend of passion and grit that only comes with real-life experience — not politics as usual."
When asked why she is running, she prides herself on not being a politician and hopes to bring fresh ideas. Although, others have told me that she admits she does not know a tremendous amount about county government, I have to say she is a pretty quick study on it based on our conversation.

She is a former teen mother who now cares for three teenage children of one of her relatives.

Cathy Kennedy officially declares herself as a Decline to State. However, as recently as a month ago according to voter history records she was a registered Republican.

She starts out with some interesting endorsements. First, Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad.

Second, she has recently received the endorsement of the Davis Police Officer's Association. This one struck me as interesting. Asking her about it, she told me she had developed a good relationship with them over the years. She felt like the police performed a good and honorable service. Still I think most people would probably say that as well, so it would be interesting to hear from the DPOA as to why they endorsed a political newcomer who is running what is likely an uphill battle against two better known and more established candidates.

Third she is endorsed by Former State Senator Jim Nielsen:
“Cathy Kennedy is one of the most visionary, articulate and enthusiastic candidates for Yolo county supervisor in memory. I am confident she will be a leader that will truly represent the citizens, the best interests of Yolo County and one who will bring certainty and stability to county government.”
A Google search of Kennedy does not show much activity although there was an interesting mention on the Davis City Council minutes where she appeared in 2003 to oppose the inclusion of a black ribbon in addition to a yellow ribbon. That is an interesting note, because an examination of her list of endorsers shows a number of people who I recognize as conservative military families including Cynthia Schulze, James and Dorothy Pearson (Dorothy is a police officer in Davis), Bob and Sylvia Glynn, James and Ramona Hechtl, of the names I know for sure.

Cathy Kennedy's full list of nominators include: Roy Lester, Shannah Starr, Deborah Folb, Alexa Eisenman, Janet Crooks, Cameron Black, Marc Wigley, Nancy Wigley, Katherine Ayers, Penny Ayers, Cynthia Schulze, James Pearson, Dorothy Pearson, Gena Finver, William Paciulla, Jennifer Herzog, Matt Soga, Bob Glynn, Sylvia Marchi-Glynn, Ron Lautzenheiser, Alexis Kennedy , Robert Davidson, Aaron Difuntorum, Robin Anderson, Iris Cochran, Janna Cannon, Jewel Grubbs, Reed Youmans, Kathy Barrientes, Abel Barrientes, Margo Jameson, Ramona Hechtl, James Hechtl, Kathryn Mandelaris, Derek Mandelaris, John Chiles, Kellie Kajanka, Jill Judd, Stephan Judd and Marilyn Needham.

On the issues, I did not get to talk to her that long but one key issue I did ask about was county imposed-peripheral growth and the pass-through agreement. Cathy Kennedy told me that she was against county imposed-residential growth on the borders of Davis. She felt it was unfair for the county to develop there because it would force the city of Davis to supply costly services. However, she was more amenable to developing business on the periphery of Davis and other cities as a means by which to supply the county which much needed revenue to pay for the vast amount of county services.

She also felt having to raise children from a substance abusing mother, she was in a better position to understand the need for these kind of services than her opponents. And to be able more effectively run county services.

The emergence of Cathy Kennedy as an individual with strong support from this segment of the population further complicates the race for the 4th Supervisorial District. As an individual who appeals to a more conservative base, she is likely to be able to take away a sizable vote in this contest. Moreover, as the only woman running with a last name of Kennedy, she probably is able to garner some more liberal votes as well.

On paper, she does not figure to stand much chance against two better known candidates, each of whom have been campaigning for almost a year. However, there is a strong probability that she will force this race into November. When she first announced that appeared the likely outcome, now I would say it is all but certain. While there are some scenarios where she could finish second in June, I still think the eventual run off would most likely be Jim Provenza against John Ferrera. However, if she can garner the vast majority of Republican votes in the 4th Supervisorial District and peel away some Democratic votes, she could finish second. I see very little chance she could go on to win. The most likely scenario is still that she plays spoiler and pushes this to November. It is a heavily Democratic District, and while you can argue it is a non-partisan race, it rarely really is.

It will be interesting to see if she becomes well-financed, because that will play a big factor in her chances for finishing second. My overall impression of her is that she is a very nice person and she will learn a lot from running in this race. She adds a different perspective and a different dynamic that will make this race more interesting.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting