Sonora-area voters this November will choose between an incumbent and a challenger running for Board of Supervisors District 1.
Supervisor Liz Bass faces Sherri Brennan, in what is shaping up into a contentious race.
Bass, 72, is seeking a third board term. Should the retired educator win, she would continue a stretch serving in local elected office that also includes 10 years on the Sonora City Council.
Brennan, 53, has a personal and professional connection to agriculture as a rancher, and also has served on the Tuolumne County Board of Education for 10 years and is board president.
The two emerged as the top two vote getters in the June primary, with Brennan bringing in the highest number and Bass clinching second place by a handful of votes. So far, Bass’ campaign has pointed to her local-government experience, while Brennan has promised to fight for private land-use rights and lower regulation.
Brennan leads in campaign fundraising so far, raising $20,313. Among the largest contributions are $1,000 from Weller Construction, $400 each from the local Republican Central Committee and Robert Coane, and $250 from the Tuolumne County Building Industry, and many individual donations from local ranchers.
Bass has raised $10,930 total and spent $10,581 on her campaign so far. Her largest contributors include $1,500 from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, $600 from attorney Kate Segerstrom and $500 from sanitation company Waste Management.
The issue of who’s backing who recently gave rise to a spat between Brennan supporters and Bass.
In a recent newspaper ad, Bass appeared to claim endorsements from a half-dozen individuals and businesses who said they never endorsed any candidate.
Brennan supporters such as campaign manager Stacey Dodge cried foul, saying it showed a lack of leadership. Brennan said she and others on her campaign received concerned calls about the ad.
“For someone who has run on leadership and experience, it’s disappointing when something like this happens,” she said.
On Thursday, Bass said the ad wasn’t intended to mislead.
It lists dozens of people and businesses who made formal endorsements of her campaign, plus a list of people and places she personally likes and wanted to “plug,” she said.
“I meant to try to say these are good places to go, that I go there. I never meant to say these are places that endorse me,” she said. “I tend to put all these people in the bucket together. … But I never meant to say that they endorse me.”
In an ad Thursday, Bass apologized for the earlier ad.
“I feel pretty strongly that I have a very solid group of businesses that do support me,” she said.
District 1 includes the city of Sonora, which is the county’s only incorporated city, and some adjacent areas.
The winner will hold one of five votes on the county’s highest governing body for a four-year term, voting to set budgets and policies for Tuolumne County’s departments.
The winner will also face some challenges on the board. The economy and availability of jobs are big issues locally, and the Board of Supervisors regularly focuses its efforts on economic development. The county also just initiated a search for a new chief legal counsel, to replace retiring counsel Gregory Oliver, and the board will ultimately choose the next person.
The county is trying to secure some state funds to help pay for a new jail, though it is generally understood that the county will still need to put up funds in the millions for the project even if a grant is awarded. The next board will likely face the task of deciding whether and how to fund a jail and other corrections and public safety projects in the wake of the statewide prison realignment known as AB 109 that moves the responsibility for many prior prison inmates over to local government.