.2024 Primary Guide

Candidates and Measures

The 2024 primary election season is officially underway and now is the time to get informed on how to participate in the March 5 democratic process. 

The primaries can be overshadowed by the presidential candidates vying for the general election ballot in November. But local contests and measures that will directly affect residents of Santa Cruz County will also be decided and it’s time to get familiar with them. 

In the City of Santa Cruz, housing and homelessness are front and center this election with measures M and L. Measure M would give voters a say over the height limits of new developments, while requiring residential developers make more of their units affordable housing. Measure L would raise the city’s sales tax to help fund essential services for residents experiencing homelessness while also addressing the environmental impacts relating to homeless encampments.

At the county level, measures like G and H are seeking money to upgrade aging facilities and update technology to improve students’ educational experience. In South County, Watsonville Community Hospital is looking to expand and upgrade facilities as it begins a new era as a publicly-held hospital with Measure N.

Now, here’s your guide to what’s on the state and local ballots this March.

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Voting in the Primaries

For the presidential primaries, if you are registered with a political party, you will receive a ballot that contains presidential candidates for that party only. If you have registered with no party preference, your ballot will not have an option to vote on a presidential candidate. 

Some political parties offer crossover voting, which means you can vote for their candidate even if you have registered with no party preference. These are the American Independent Party, the Democratic Party and the Libertarian Party. The deadline to change your party affiliation is Feb. 24.

National, State and Local Races

This primary election, a number of national, state and local seats are in contention as some perennial incumbents are being challenged by political newcomers. The seats for U.S. Senate, California’s 18th congressional district; the State Senate’s 17th district and the State Assembly’s 29th district are being vied for. In Santa Cruz County, the supervisor seats for Districts 1, 2 and 5 are in play. In the City of Santa Cruz, the council seats for Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5 are up for grabs. 

U.S. Senator, California

The senate primary race also includes a special top-two primary election for the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat, whose term ends January 2025. Incumbent Laphonza Butler, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom after Feinstein’s passing, will not run.The regular top-two primary will determine California’s top two candidates for the Nov. 5 general election. The race is packed—29 candidates are looking for a shot at both primaries. We’re highlighting the top candidates and those running for the special primary:

Eric Early, Business owner 

Barbare Lee, congresswoman

Steve Garvey, professional baseball representative

Sepi Gilani, physician and professor

Katie Porter, U.S. representative

Adam Schiff, U.S. representative

U.S. Representative, 19th Congressional District:

Sean Dougherty, software engineer

Jimmy Panetta, U.S. representative (incumbent)

Jason Michael Anderson, small business owner

California State Senate, 17th District:

John Laird, California state senator

Michael Oxford, AV technician

Eric Tao, computer science professor

Tony Virrueta, veterans advocate

California State Assembly, 28th District:

Liz Lawler, retired Monte Sereno mayor

Gail Pellerin, state assemblymember (incumbent)

Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 1:

Lani Faulkner, scientist and businesswoman

Manu Koenig, District 1 supervisor

Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 2:

Kristen Brown, Capitola city councilmember

Tony Crane, businessman

Kim De Serpa, healthcare manager and trustee

Bruce Jaffe, oceanographer and water official

David Schwartz, businessman and accountant

Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 5:

Theresa Ann Bond, governing board member

Christopher Bradford, businessman

Tom Decker, residential home builder

Monica Martinez, nonprofit CEO

Santa Cruz City Council, District 1:

David Tannaci, Biologist

Gabriela Trigueiro, nonprofit director

Santa Cruz City Council, District 2:

Sonja Brunner, councilmember

Hector Marin, educator

Santa Cruz City Council, District 3:

Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, councilmember

Joy Schendledecker, organizer

Santa Cruz City Council, District 5:

Susie O’Hara, water resources engineer

Joe Thompson, union organizer

Countywide Measures

Measure G: Happy Valley Elementary School District’s measure would renew its existing parcel tax for eight years at the existing rate, raising  $61,000 annually with an exemption for seniors. Funds will be used for school arts programs and to retain teachers.

Measure H: Live Oak Elementary School District’s measure that would authorize $44 million in bonds to improve school facilities and upgrade classroom technology. Funds would be allocated at $2.8 million annually.

Measure I: Pacific Elementary School District’s measure that would authorize  $1.3 million in bonds to upgrade outdated classrooms and school facilities. Funds would be allocated at $93,000 annually.

Measure J: Pacific Elementary School District’s measure to authorize $675,000 in bonds to upgrade outdated classrooms and school facilities. 

Measure K: Santa Cruz County’s sales tax would be increased in unincorporated areas by one-half cent to fund essential Santa Cruz County services. These include wildfire response and recovery; affordable housing for working class residents; mental health crisis programs for children/vulnerable populations; substance abuse programs; public safety; road maintenance; parks and recreation and programs to reduce homelessness. The tax would generate approximately $10 million annually.

Measure L: City of Santa Cruz’s sales tax would be increased by one half of one percent raising to maintain essential services. These include homelessness response and prevention;  emergency shelters, case management and connection to services; cleaning up and addressing the impacts of encampments; keeping pollution out of local waterways; supporting local food programs; preparing for wildfires; maintaining streets; and improving neighborhood parks, beaches, and public safety. The tax would generate approximately $8 million annually.

Measure M: Amend the City of Santa Cruz Municipal Code to limit building heights for all residential and non-residential development projects in all zoning districts unless approved by voters. Require developments of 30 or more housing units to provide at least 25 % inclusionary housing.
Measure N: Pajaro Valley Health Care District’s measure to authorize $116 million in bonds to improve the quality of health care at Watsonville Community Hospital; upgrade and expand facilities and purchase the hospital property. Funds would be allocated at $6.8 million annually.


  1. Measures I and J: why 2 for the same recipient for the same thing??
    Measures K and L: one tax increase for a Santa Cruz County unincorporated and one tax increase for City of Santa Cruz, both seemingly funding the same things?
    What am I missing here?

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    • I agree – I and J look like duplicates.

      K and L are not the same – K is for the UNINCORPORATED parts of Santa Cruz County (e.g. Bonny Doon, Boulder Creek, etc) whereas L is for the City of Santa Cruz (incorporated)

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  2. By California Law, residents of incorporated cities get certain services – polices, fire, utilities, roads, disaster response, parks – directly from the city through their budget; people outside those boundaries – living in the Unincorporated area – get them those same services from the County. Additionally, the County provides certain things, healthcare, elections, courts, jails, social services – for all residents, usually in partnership with the state or federal government. That’s why tax votes require parallel actions in adjacent jurisdictions.

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