Saturday Jun 20 2009
6 officials among election non-voters
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
42 percent went to polls for May 19 measures
The May 19 election drew about 42 percent of Placer County’s registered voters to the polls. It also meant 58 percent stayed away — including six elected officials. The Journal requested information from the county Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Office on voting by elected officials in the county, the cities of Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville, Lincoln and Colfax, and town of Loomis . The result showed six officials — Lincoln Councilman Kent Nakata, Loomis Councilwoman Rhonda Morillas, Rocklin Councilman Brett Storey, Colfax Councilman Josh Alpine, County Assessor Kristen Spears and Loomis Treasurer Roger Carroll — had not cast votes on Measures A through F during the last election. Morillas said she was out of town on election day on a family-related matter that came up at the last minute and had forgotten her mail ballot. “It was an oversight,” Morillas said. “I forgot to drop it in the mail before I left town. Usually I don’t miss an election.” The Journal also requested prior voting information on the six who didn’t vote May 19. It showed that all had a perfect voting record in the previous five elections. Alpine said he was training that week in Burney, near Redding, for a new position he has with Pacific Gas & Electric. By the time he was assigned there, it was too late to get an absentee ballot, he said. Alpine said he even phoned the elections division office to determine if he could vote out-of-county but was told that he couldn’t. “Employers by law must give you time off to vote but I felt awkward asking for a half-day off to drive to Placer County while I was being trained,” Alpine said. “Usually, they make it easy for you to vote but in this case I missed one for the first time since 1996.” While a vast majority of elected officials – including all Auburn City Council members and all the Board of Supervisors – cast a vote, the six who didn’t were far from alone in Placer County and around the state. The official total number of voters in Placer was 82,779 out of 195,184 registered. That was much better than the statewide percentage of 28.3 percent. Rocklin City Councilman Brett Storey said he purposely decided not to vote. He said the measures were more a scam than a polling of voters. “I almost believe they were crafted to fail,” Storey said. “I studied the ballot and the issues carefully but it just frustrated me that those type of initiatives got on the ballot. I executed my constitutional right because I didn’t like either the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.” Despite his strong feelings, Storey said he almost went out and voted anyway. “But then I didn’t,” he said. “I could’ve said ‘Gee I forgot.’ I’ve voted in every election since I was 18 and it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t vote in this one.” Spears, who was appointed last fall as assessor to fill out the remainder of Bruce Dear’s term, said that in retrospect, she should have voted in the morning rather than trying to cast a ballot in the evening. “I got up in work tasks and ended up just not voting because I got busy,” she said. “It was certainly not my intention. I’ve learned from my mistake and I’m going to become a morning voter.” Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes was one of the majority of elected officials who voted. “I’ve never missed a vote,” he said. “Even when I was overseas in the Navy, I would continue to vote by absentee ballot. There are so many methods of voting, I don’t think there’s an excuse unless you’re on your deathbed.” Holmes said he was heartened to know that all his colleagues on the City Council were casting ballots. “If you’re an elected official you should be the one who leads the way in voting by setting an example,” Holmes said. “It’s unfortunate that a few of us haven’t.” Phone messages were left with Nakata and Carroll midway through last week to comment on their absence from the polls on May 19 but they hadn’t return the calls by late Friday. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at email@example.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.