Election Day is in less than a week, and some candidates are making a last-ditch effort to get votes. For Jimmy Dutra, running for Santa Cruz County Supervisor, however, that effort could result in both confusion and litigious action.
There’s less than one week until the primary election, as the mailers in your physical and virtual inbox come pouring in. In Watsonville, one candidate could be in trouble for how he has represented his candidacy’s endorsement from the local and state Democratic parties.
On Tuesday, voters received a mailer from Jimmy Dutra, currently running for the 4th District Santa Cruz County Supervisor seat in Watsonville, with the national Democratic Party logo “Blue circle D” seemingly endorsing him as the candidate. Yet according to the Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee, the mailer is false: Dutra does not have the group’s endorsement, and should know better than to put the logo on his mailers, in his third attempt to win the supervisor seat.
On Wednesday, the organization sent Dutra a cease-and-desist letter for including the national Democratic trademark in the mailer, and accused him of presenting false information to voters.
Chair Andrew Goldenkranz said the committee was first made aware of the mailer Tuesday by a confused Watsonville voter, who said the mailer “did not sound like the Democratic voter guide we endorsed.” Goldenkranz said also received an email from his Santa Clara County counterpart, who said a candidate for San Jose City Council had sent out a similar mailer.
“Our take is, politics is a tough business and people are going to say things — but let’s be honest and upfront,” he said. “This feels like a misrepresentation.”
In response to the mailer and the subsequent cease-and-desist, Dutra said via a media release Wednesday: “I have a wide array of support from all groups in our community, including Democrats. I am proud of being the candidate of bringing all of our community members together. Special interest groups are upset because they have been purchasing and controlling this county for decades. It is now time to have representation that can bring all of us together to address the challenges in front of us. I am the real voice for the broad and diverse community of the Pajaro Valley.”
Dutra did not respond to Lookout’s request for a specific response to the central committee’s charge by publication time.
Goldenkranz said District 4 voters deserve better than Dutra’s “non-response.”
“We can hold our local politicians accountable for the way they carry themselves and their integrity, as well as their stance on issues,” he said. “Voters can vote for whoever they want to, but we expect honesty and integrity out of our candidates … we’re trying to play fair.”
By California law, every political party operating in a county has to have a central committee governing its body. Central committees at a county level can make their endorsements, which are then acknowledged at the state level.
For the 4th District seat, Goldenkranz told Lookout on Wednesday, the committee overwhelmingly endorsed one of Dutra’s opponents, Felipe Hernandez, on March 23, with 20 of 22 votes. The committee’s endorsement was driven largely by two issues: affordable housing development and Measure D.
Goldenkranz recalled Dutra’s no vote on a few significant affordable housing projects in the past year, including Pippin Orchards II and 1482 Freedom Boulevard, which together would bring 133 housing units to South County.
“His take was that there was neighborhood opposition to the projects — that always happens when you try to put up below-market rate housing,” Goldenkranz said. “We thought that was not a satisfactory response.”
On Measure D, Goldenkranz says the Democratic Central Committee is wholeheartedly against it. Dutra did not come out in opposition or support of the controversial measure, which Goldenkranz said Dutra should have made clear: “It’s OK to take contrary positions on something, but just tell us where you’re at.”