On the Upcoming District Election


Written by Luke Herzog

Readers of the NewsBreaker might know that in early October I wrote an article about our representative in the House — Congressman Sam Farr. Well, very recently, there has been a development regarding his run for reelection in 2016. That is – he is not running for reelection. On November 12, Farr announced that he would not seek another term, desiring to spend more time with his family. The Congressman leaves behind a fruitful career as a loyal member of the Democratic Party and perhaps most notably, a series of environmental accomplishments (among them championing the creation of Pinnacles National Park). But with his announcement of retirement comes an  influx of potential candidates that will likely result in perhaps the largest election our district has seen since 1993 — the election in which Sam Farr came out on top.

The biggest name on the list is Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta, who on November 17 became the first Democrat to formally join the race. Panetta is the son of legendary political figure Leon Panetta, who served as Chief of Staff under President Clinton, was appointed Director of the CIA by President Obama, and later became Secretary of Defense (and who I had the pleasure of briefly meeting at an event for the Panetta Institute). Jimmy Panetta runs with the advantage of massive name recognition. Enough, potentially, to propel him to Washington. In his recent speech, he expressed his interest in continuing Farr’s environmental legacy, also promising to “strengthen the trust between the voters and their elected representatives.”

The only name on the Republican side as of now is Pacific Grove City Councilwoman Casey Lucius, who declared her intention to run for Congress way back in mid-June. As I wrote in my aforementioned article, her battle will be an uphill one in our dark blue district. Now though, she will not be facing off with long-time representative Sam Farr. In an interview with KSBW, she explained that she was excited that this election would ignite political debate not seen in this area in a long time. In addition, Lucius noted that she believed Panetta to be only the first of many candidates to enter the race.

Rumors have been floating around about a number of politicians who might try their luck: State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), who ran against Farr in 1993, a proponent of healthcare and a outspoken voice in the California State Legislator on childhood obesity; Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), a member of the State Assembly who has written legislation to improve the foster care system as well as combat ocean pollution, all while being “an avid open water swimmer,” of which his website makes special mention; California Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), who has sought to improve the lives of working families, recently having passed laws that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses in addition to a bill that raised our state’s minimum wage to ten dollars an hour. He is expected to appeal to the 20th district’s nearly fifty percent Hispanic population. Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett might throw his hat in the ring, as well. On November 13 he announced he would not seek reelection in 2016, saying he was interested in serving the community in another fashion.

No matter how this elections shapes up or who joins Panetta and Lucius as declared candidates, Sam Farr has made it clear that for now he will make no endorsements. “I’m certainly going to support my party’s nominee,” he said.