Placer’s registered voters now 200,000 strong

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Not even opening the notebook while sending kudos and props to Chile for what’s being called the Miner Miracle. Had the same calamity happened in this country, we’d still be waiting for environmental impact reports and archaeologists’ approvals before we stuck a drill bit into the hallowed ground ... Another thing moving along expeditiously is the Placer County elections section of the County Clerk’s office. Everything appears to be either on time or ahead of schedule, and honcho Jim McCauley’s decision to run the Ted Gaines daily double on a single ballot saves local taxpayers at least six figures. Of course, Gaines could have made the whole issue moot by opting to try for one office or the other, but politicians seldom think that way. Meanwhile, back at the elections. It seems that the Placer County electorate is very excited over next month’s election. According to Assistant Registrar of Voters Ryan Ronco, local registration figures have topped the 200,000 mark for the first time. “As of Thursday morning, we were at 200,939, and we’ll get a few more before the end of registration,” he said. Ronco’s figures showed 97,173 of those registrants opted for the Republican Party, while 58,137 said they were Democrats. Of the remainder, the “Decline to State” list showed 38,017 signatures. That means, as usual, the independent vote will still be the most important one, at least for candidates at the top of the ticket. However, with polling (from both sides of the aisle) showing that in this election cycle, as many as 60 percent of the independents responding say they are leaning to the right. Ronco admitted he was excited about the possible number of locals who will vote. “We’re usually higher than the statewide average, but I think there be a notable turnout (locally),” he said, adding that last Wednesday was the first day to get absentee and vote-early ballots and that 11 trays (of 400 each) of those showed up in the morning mail. “So far, more than half the registrants (112,367) have requested mail-in ballots,” he added.  Just what the Democrats needed! Historically, high turnouts in off-years mean bad news to the party in power, and should it rain or snow anywhere in the country, that’s more bad news for the left-side of the aisle, because conservatives always have the better turnout in inclement weather ... Bad news for Bonner: It probably couldn’t have come at a worse time, but Barbara Besana has announced her resignation from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. No doubt you didn’t hear about it because that’s the way she is; personable but oh-so much desiring to be let alone to get her job done. And her job? Her title says “administrative services manager” which she’s had since coming over from the county executive department in 1999. What makes her really valuable, besides having a work-ethic equal to Lou Gehrig on steroids, is the way she presents her annual fiscal arguments to the Board of Supervisors. Normally when a department rep heads to the board with hat in hand, begging for more (You want more?), there’s the usual seats slung back and a stifled yawn or two. But when Besana unleashes her yearly dog-and-pony show, supes lean forward, seemingly afraid they’ll miss a decimal point or an actuary figure. “That (aura) of respectability didn’t come overnight,” Sheriff Ed Bonner said, explaining that it took years of Besana displaying overwhelming expertise to convince the ever-changing board that this was someone not to be dismissed. “She’s also valuable in other ways,” Bonner said, adding that “she” always had the courage to speak up when she sees something she feels is not a good idea, which is tough because I love hearing that I’m right.” Bonner said Besana has been trying to retire for at least a year, “but she finally found the key we used to lock her in her office. She’s been very instrumental to our success over the years.” Besana probably won’t go cold turkey after leaving, not after all her efforts to build up that Financial Managers sub-committee for the California State Sheriffs Association. In the meantime, the hunt goes on for her replacement (interviews were done late last week). “Not that we’re going to allow her to get too far away, because I’m sure we’ll need an answer or two for some problem,” the Sheriff said, no doubt reaching for a Kleenex. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at