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Tuesday’s election bringing out strong feelings among voters

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn’s Norm Johnson will be stepping up to vote Tuesday with red ink on his mind – government red ink. “I don’t like what’s going on,” Johnson said. “People need to take back the state and pay attention to what’s going on.” Johnson is one of an estimated 150,000 voters in Placer County who will cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, joining voters across the nation in marking ballots filled with local, state and federal issues. The number of local voters is based on Placer County elections chief Jim McCauley’s projection of a 75 percent voter turnout and the more than 200,000 people who had registered by the Oct. 18 deadline. McCauley said he’s basing his projections on absentee ballot returns and a comparison of precinct numbers and turnouts from past elections at this time. The governor’s race – pitting Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown – is a high-profile campaign that should bring voters out to the polls, McCauley said. But not everyone is happy with either candidate. Caroline Carter of Colfax said she’s so sick of the negative campaigning that she’ll be writing in her husband’s name as her choice for governor. “There are too many ads – radio, TV, billboards,” Carter said. “There has been a lot of trash generated. It’s been a waste of money but I’ll always go to the polls on Election Day. I feel it’s my duty.” Carter said the governor’s race has been irritatingly acrimonious. “It’s shameful because of all the smearing,” Carter said. McCauley said Prop. 19 – the marijuana legalization proposal – and the race to replace District 1 state Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, are two other issues that are on the minds of many voters. For rural Auburn resident Rich Henderson, what’s getting his attention aren’t the signs or mailings for candidates. Henderson said he’s more concerned with governments balancing their books. “It’s the amount of spending everyone’s doing and the lack of control over it,” Henderson said. “There seems to be a disconnect between what the politicians want to spend and much money they have.” Henderson said he’s hoping that voters will give leaders a financial gut check similar to what occurred 16 years ago when President Bill Clinton found himself with a Republican majority in the House and ended up working with GOP leader Newt Gingrich to come up with solutions that balanced the federal budget. Johnson said that he’s particularly incensed with the idea of Prop. 25, which proposes to change the legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation from two-thirds to a simple majority. Pro-Prop 25 advocates say it would reform a “broken” state budget process. Opponents of Prop. 25 say it will make it easier for politicians to raise taxes. “I say, ‘Leave it like it is and do your job,’” Johnson said. “And quit passing the 1,100 bills a year that you do until you get the budget passed. Then, if you have the time, pass some bills.” On the local measure front, Auburn voters have it easy compared to Roseville, where seven measures regarding changes to the city charter are on the ballot. In the Auburn area, the Auburn Union School District is asking for approval of a $59-per-parcel annual levy over the next five years to preserve programs threatened by state cuts. Local elected offices are also being contested, most noticeably a sometimes acrimonious Auburn Recreation District campaign and an Auburn City Council election. Jerry Kopp, Uptown Signs owner, said the recreation district race has been a surprise among members of the loosely knit “Babblers” group that assembles most weekday mornings at the parking lot near the corner High Street and Kenmass Avenue. “We can’t believe that the ARD election is more important that the City Council election,” Kopp said.