.Around the County: City Council and Mayoral Races

As Election Day approaches, a snapshot of where Santa Cruz County races stand

Fred Keeley has by far tallied the most campaign contributions among the Santa Cruz mayoral and city council candidates running for office in the upcoming Nov. 8 general election. 

According to the final campaign finance statements submitted last week, the mayoral candidate has raised nearly $63,000, with contributions coming from a who’s who of Santa Cruz County and regional power brokers such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings ($250), Ow Properties’ William and George Ow ($250 each), Santa Cruz Seaside Company President Karl Rice ($250), former Congressman Sam Farr ($100), retired politician Neal Coonerty ($250) and philanthropists Pat and Rowland Rebele ($250 each). 

But Keeley’s biggest contributor to his candidacy has been himself. The former state legislator, county supervisor and treasurer poured $15,000 of his own money into his campaign committee in the form of a contribution on Sept. 27. And he also loaned himself $12,000 over three transactions in July.

In comparison, his competitor Joy Schendledecker, a newcomer to local politics, has raised a little more than $13,000 for her campaign.

In the two city council races, Renee Golder ($9,723) leads fellow District 6 candidate Sean Maxwell ($7,005) in contributions, and Scott Newsome ($10,393) leads his fellow District 4 candidates Hector Marin ($3,561) and Greg Hyver ($3,277).

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Here’s a look at other city council races across the county:


A strange sign situation in Watsonville has caught the attention of District 7 voters.

On the east side of the city by the Staff of Life Natural Foods grocery store, a pair of signs for current District 7 City Council representative Ari Parker are seemingly subtweeting two signs for District 7 candidate Nancy Bilicich with the quote made famous by First Lady Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

Bilicich, who was first appointed to the city council in 2009 and twice earned re-election before leaving office in 2018, says she has “no idea” why her opponent included the quote under her typical signs.

“One day they just appeared,” says Bilicich, who adds that she has nothing else to say.

Parker, who is currently serving as mayor, did not respond to emailed questions before press time Tuesday.

Steve Trujillo, who ran unsuccessfully against Parker in 2018 and is now on the Cabrillo College Governing Board, said at a recent city council meeting that he would not vote for either candidate because of ongoing “smear” tactics from both sides. Instead, he said, he planned to vote for himself as a write-in candidate.


The decision to not run for re-election this November was a tough one, says Capitola Mayor Sam Storey. While this year will likely serve as his swan song from local politics, the long-time elected leader is leaving the door open for an unlikely return.

“As the saying goes, ‘never say never,’” Storey wrote in an email. “We can never know what the future may hold and we should stay open to new opportunities while we still can.”

For now, however, Storey is saying goodbye to politics to focus on family. His youngest daughter was recently accepted into the University of Washington, and he helped her make the transition to Seattle this fall. 

“I believe the voters are entitled to a fully engaged and committed candidate,” Storey wrote. “I have become the age where I realize my time is a non-renewable resource, and I best use it wisely.”

When he exits office in December, Storey will have served on the council for 12 years—2006-14 and ’18-22—and thrice held the position of mayor. The current mayoral stint, he says, has been arguably his most rewarding, as he’s witnessed the city pull its way out of the mini-recession caused by the pandemic.

“Capitola does have some challenges ahead with the Capitola Mall project still being stalled, mitigating impacts from the rail/trail corridor use and the lack of affordable housing,” he wrote. “However, I believe the current council, newly elected council members and staff are capable and have the tools to address these and other challenges.”

Storey says he’s endorsing incumbent Yvette Brooks for one of the three open seats. Enrique Dolmo, Jr., Joe Clarke, Alexander Pedersen and Gerry Jensen are also running for office. 

Scotts Valley

Councilmember Derek Timm has teamed up with recording-plug-in company executive Allan Timms in a bid to unseat Vice Mayor Jim Reed, who Timm has sparred with on several occasions over the past year.

Timm and Reed have increasingly been at odds since the former, who was mayor last year while Reed was vice mayor, nominated Lind for mayor in December instead of him. Then, in May, when Timm tried to fast-track a vote on a policy to allow the Pride Flag to be raised for nearly the entire month of June, Reed took issue with city “transparency,” as staff asked for a majority of council to indicate they supported the move.

When that policy came up for debate, Reed raised concerns about expanding the flags the city can fly (although Reed put forward a motion that didn’t succeed that sought to enshrine the rainbow flag—and no others—as a new banner Scotts Valley would be able to raise).

Reed said he worried the policy might be used by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to force the city to fly their flags. Reed ultimately did vote with the rest of the council to support Timm’s motion for a new ceremonial flag policy.

But the evening gave Timm the opportunity to cast Reed in a homophobic light, something Reed tells GT isn’t fair. He accuses Timm of not being willing to look at different ways to achieve the same objectives—pointing out that he pushed for the rainbow to become an official Scotts Valley symbol (which Timm voted against).

“It’s not credible in my opinion to argue that putting the Pride Flag at the same level as the U.S. flag is not sympathetic to LGBT issues,” says Reed, the chief of staff for outgoing San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Timms moved to the U.S. from Britain in 2014. He says his interest in participating in local government was sparked by the citizenship process. He became an American earlier this year.

Timms says the Pride Flag debate was one of the catalysts that caused him to pull the trigger on a run for office.

“He didn’t do the research,” he says. “It was just a disaster.”


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Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.
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