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Carmel Valley council contest attracts 9 candidates

Incorporation key issue for residents seeking office

Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 07/24/2009 01:26:12 AM PDT

The field of Carmel Valley Town Council candidates is filling out for the Nov. 3 election.

Nine people have registered with the county Elections Department or declared their intention to do so.

Several candidates are pushing for incorporation, including Glenn Robinson, former county supervisor Karin Strasser-Kauffman and Larry Bacon.

They are running with two other proponents, Priscilla Walton and Amy Anderson, as a "pro-town" slate.

At least two candidates, radio show host Scott Dick and Realtor-writer Lawrence Samuels, are against incorporation. They say they are running to use the platform to campaign against cityhood.

Dick said he is also running so that if incorporation is approved, anti-incorporation residents can have a voice in the local government.

Two other candidates, Noel Jensen, a registered nurse, and Savva Vassiliev, a 24-year-old actor and writer, are running. They could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Carmel Valley residents have until Aug. 7 to declare their candidacy. Strasser-Kaufmann, who has publicly announced her intention to run, has not yet registered with the Elections Department, said election services specialist Susan Orman.

Carmel Valley residents will vote for the five-member council at the same time they vote on whether to incorporate the valley. The election results for council members will be disregarded if Carmel Valley townhood is voted down.

Residents will also vote on whether, in future elections, council members would be selected from regions or at large—another measure that only matters if voters approve incorporation.

If incorporation passes, the elected council would choose the first mayor.

The candidates—and residents on both sides of the issue—have until Election Day to persuade Carmel Valley's nearly 8,000 registered voters which way to vote.

Candidates on both sides say they want to preserve the rural nature of Carmel Valley. The question is whether that is best done by forming a local government or leaving the region as part of the county.

Proponents say incorporating the valley will give residents local control of land-use issues. Townhood would "make sure that development that does happen in Carmel Valley is appropriate for the community," Robinson said.

Opponents say that a localized government will lead to undesired development through state requirements for affordable housing units and an eventual need to increase the valley's tax base to compensate for unforeseen fiscal downturns.

The opposition candidates say the proponents' hearts are in the right place in wanting to preserve the valley's rural nature. But they contend most people live in Carmel Valley because they do not want to deal with a city government.

Incorporating, Dick said, is in itself "the ultimate act of development" that would impose stricter surveillance on residents.

"Do you want to be left alone," he said, "or do you want somebody peeking over your fence to see if you have violated a city ordinance?"

Samuels said opponents have discussed their strategy with opponents of incorporation efforts in other areas of the state.

"They say it is vital to have your own slate of candidates to oppose incorporation," Samuels said. "We don't want people to go to (election debates) and think that all they have to do is vote for a council."

Proponents running for the council say the threat of overdevelopment is real, and that if the decision-making remains with county supervisors, Carmel Valley will become more cluttered with people and traffic.

"Things are not going to remain fine unless we take charge of our own affairs," Strasser-Kauffman said.

Laith Agha can be reached at 646-4358 or

Last Updated: Jul 24, 09

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