Fifth District Supervisor Race Heads To November Runoff

Eric Hammer dinged away McPherson's early lead throughout Tuesday night.

Bruce McPherson's early 23 percent lead in the race for the Fifth District seat on the Santa Cruz County Board Of Supervisors dwindled to 11 percent by 1 a.m. on Wednesday, meaning he and Eric Hammer will head to a November runoff.

The first block of absentee ballot results gave McPherson a 54- to 31-percent lead over his strongest challenger, Eric Hammer, and he needed to remain above 50 percent to win the position without a runoff in November. The final results gave McPherson 49.48 percent of the vote to Hammer’s 38.11 percent.

The Fifth District supervisor seat encompasses Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley. Hammer and McPherson, along with Bill Smallman, who finished with 6.23 percent of the vote, are vying for the seat left vacant by Mark Stone who is running for State Assembly.

A Hammer supporter who asked to remain anonymous said that Hammer, a lifelong San Lorenzo Valley resident, “is the right person for the job.”

“McPherson is going to come in and represent the wealthy in Scotts Valley,” he said. “It's a retirement position for [Bruce]. Eric is a fourth-generation San Lorenzo Valley resident and he is just a really genuine guy who really cares.”

McPherson lives in the Pasatiempo area and has strong support in Scotts Valley, but says his focus as supervisor would be on issues of importance to the deeper parts of the valley where his decisions as supervisor would have more of an impact.

“The needs are the greatest in the San Lorenzo Valley, from Felton on up,” McPherson said. “The roads system, the public safety and the sheriff's office, I think that's where the need is.”

In the November runoff, both candidates will have the option to place a party affiliation on the ballot. Having the “Democrat” title next to his name could be a plus to Hammer given that there are three times as many Democrats than Republicans registered to vote in the county.

The county's permitting process for businesses was a hot topic in all three supervisor races, and it was the focus of supporters at both Hammer and McPherson’s election night parties in Felton.

"[The county] really needs to take the gray area out of rules in the process,” said Dave Hunt, a fifth-generation Santa Cruz County resident and McPherson supporter. “You and your neighbor can present identical plans to the planning commission and get two different answers depending on who looks it over. I think they do that just to stifle business.”

Hammer, a contractor by trade, said most of these issues are a problem of perception and that he will work to get the word out to property and business owners as well as builders whether he is on the board or working through committees which make recommendations to the supervisors.

He stayed in good spirits through the night dancing with his family at Don Quixote's just down the street from McPherson's gathering at the Cowboy Bar and Grill, while waiting on more vote totals to come in.

“I will be supervisor here one day. I will,” Hammer said. “[If Bruce wins], I will begin revamping my campaign for the next four years and come back even stronger.”


Diane Bianconi McNiel June 06, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Bruce McPherson is the right person for the job has the experience, many generations of business in this county a a full knowledge of the areas he will look after. This is not a retirement position for Bruce he could have retired already he wants this position because he truly cares about this entire county. He does not represent only the wealthy I am a big supporter and far from wealthly.
Sebastien praly June 07, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Great article. Eric Hammer represents the futur and my generation of hard working income earners, not retired don't rock the boat citizens. SLV has being stagnant and not moving ahead with the times. Our kids can't ride bikes to school as our streets are not adequate. Only Eric has shown interest in participating and protecting our kids. I've seeing nothing from Bruce McPherson.
Jason Whitlock June 07, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Mr. Mcpherson is a little Over qualified for a local country pos. like this. Its like the new college grad winning the job over the 80 year old 60 year senior. Mcpherson has experience on the big stage. Where as Mr. Hammer is in the community, lives in the area where the biggest needs are, knows his neighbors, as a local contractor he knows the issues with trying to do business and the road blocks homeowners and businesses face. This is a position where Hammer has more motivation to give a 110% as he is the rookie, and is close to the people, care as much if not more about the valley. Not some failed career politician, bored in retirement and looking for a hobby.
Anonymous June 07, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Mr. McPherson is only running in this race because Pasatiempo was recently moved into the 5th district - the anonymous Hammer supporter is right that he only represents the 1%. Eric Hammer lives and breathes this area - he has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley his entire life and he truly understands and cares for ALL of the residents of the district. Mr. McPherson does not understand the concepts of grassroots or local level politics - these campaigns should not be centered around raising money or contributing from your own personal wealth stash - they should be about representing an area that you can say you truly know and have experience in. Eric Hammer fits that perfectly, and McPherson does not.
Anonymous June 07, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I keep hearing people say that Mc Pherson is right for the job because he has experience in politics. Yes he has experience in our CA government and look how well that system is doing! It's time that politics gets back to its roots and has "the everyday Joe" representing our interests and not who can raise the most money. I support Eric Hammer and his ideas.
Bill Smallman June 07, 2012 at 05:46 PM
The Sentinel reported that Gail Pellerin said that there are up to 2000 ballots to be counted. I'd say a runoff has a 50-50 chance. Mr. Wootan jumped to a mistaken conclusion.
Shannon Burkey (Editor) June 07, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Bill, yesterday the Sentinel also reported that this race was going to a November run off: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/elections/ci_20789014/early-returns-show-bruce-mcpherson-lead-board-supervisors?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com There is now new information that there are about 6,000 mail-in ballots that were dropped off on Wednesday to still be counted, however they could be from any district in the county. We will add that to the story.
Dave Moriconi June 07, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I've lived in Ben Lomond for almost 33 years and own and operate a business in Scotts Valley for almost 27 years. I have strong ties to both communities and I strongly support Eric Hammer for 5th District Supervisor for a variety of reasons including the fact that he lives and interacts with the SLV-Scotts Valley community and is a local business person. He understands the issues facing people from this community. Though Bruce McPherson technically lives in the 5th District, he lives in an area that most would consider on the edge of Santa Cruz City rather SLV-Scotts Valley. In the 33 years I've spent in SLV-Scotts Valley, active years involved with various schools, youth sports such as soccer, little league and school sports programs, as well as community fund raising efforts for the SLV High School Pool and Skypark soccer fields, I have no recollection of any interaction with, or support from Bruce McPherson who at that time held elective offices representing the County in Sacramento. I also think it's important to get some new blood (yes, I mean younger) and new ideas into our local leadership.


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