“The most important elections are local elections.”
We’ve heard it before, but it’s worth emphasizing. Local elections typically seat the decision makers for things like whether or not our streets have sidewalks and bike lanes, whether or not our public transportation service is strong enough to actually be useful, and which developments are approved and rejected.
In Santa Cruz County specifically, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) controls the budget and project list for all the transportation projects in the County, from roads to public transportation to bike infrastructure and walking paths. Surprisingly, membership on the RTC is not representative of the county population. Seats on the RTC are granted to all the elected County Supervisors and to one City Council member from each city. In addition, each city gets one seat on the METRO board, and three METRO board members get seats on the RTC. A Cabrillo College trustee also gets a seat on the METRO board and so is eligible for appointment from the METRO to the RTC.
What’s at Stake
As a 501(c)(3) organization we don’t endorse candidates, but we are committed to discovering candidate positions and sharing them with the community. As we’ve seen over the past two years, even one RTC commissioner can have a dramatic impact on which projects get funded and built and which are killed or delayed. The Rail & Trial project enjoys enormous popularity with the people of Santa Cruz County, but that does not guarantee individual commissioners will support it. Whoever wins the local races this November will have a direct impact on the Rail & Trail and on all of the city and county transportation projects.
Which Seats are Coming Up
This November, voters will decide city council appointments in Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, Capitola and Watsonville. There is also a Board of Supervisors runoff election in District 4 (which is most of Watsonville) and in District 3 (which covers the City of Santa Cruz, Davenport, Bonny Doon and the area between Empire Grade and the coastline from Waddell Creek). We reached out to every candidate with our survey and have provided their responses for you on our website here. You can also click here to see the community conversation on Reddit about the candidate survey responses.
for email updates
Friends of the Rail & Trail is a grassroots transportation advocacy organization.