Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, Nov. 9 @ 4:46 p.m. / Elections

Referendums Against Crescent City, Del Norte County Tax Measures Fail; Hundreds of Ballots Still to be Counted, Clerk-Recorder Says


Del Norte County resident Don Olson hitches a ride in a Crescent Fire & Rescue truck during the 2021 Fourth of July parade. | File photo: Jessica C. Andrews

Previously:
Early Election Results Show Wilson, Masten Neck And Neck in District 5 Supervisor Race; Borges Maintains Lead Over Adams For District 4; Tax Repeals Fail

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Though many local races are still too close to call, voters resoundingly supported two sales tax measures that have paid for more police officers, road repairs and upgrades to Fred Endert Municipal Swimming Pool.

Measure T would have repealed Crescent City’s voter-approved 1 percent sales tax, otherwise known as Measure S. Measure U would have done the same for Del Norte County’s voter-approved 1 percent sales tax known as Measure R.

Both failed with 76.73 percent of Crescent City voters casting a “No” ballot for Measure T and 67.7 percent of Del Norte voters rejecting Measure U, according to election results posted at 9:39 p.m. Tuesday.

“I’m excited for the community and really more excited for our public safety personnel, which in this case were quite well recognized by the community as being extremely important,” District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard said Wednesday.

Howard, a vocal proponent of Measure R, noted that it received more support from voters during the repeal effort than when it was originally on the ballot in 2020.

In 2020, out of 7,991 total votes cast, 4,003 voted in favor of Measure R, the county’s sales tax measure. For Measure S, 722 voted in favor out of a total of 1,091.

On Wednesday Del Norte County Clerk-Recorder Alissia Northrup and her staff at the elections office still had hundreds of ballots in bags to be counted. That didn’t include ballots voters mailed into her office on Election Day, she said.

Northrup said she’d have “some kind of raw count” as to how many ballots have yet to be tabulated by the end of Wednesday. But because Friday is Veterans Day and her office is closed, she said her staff will tabulate the bulk of the ballots and have updated election results on Monday.

“I would rather take my time and do it right and not have any mistakes,” she told the Wild Rivers Outpost.

Though poll workers in other parts of the country reported disturbances from people contesting the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, Northrup said Tuesday her office and local poll workers haven’t experienced that.

Still, Northrup said, she has already begun receiving Public Records Act requests from people wanting documentation connected to the current election.

On Wednesday she said many races are too close to call.

“I know it’s stressful and I feel bad for them because you just want it to be over,” Northrup said. “But we got to do it right.”

Some of the local races that too close to call as of 9:39 p.m. Tuesday include Crescent City Harbor Race where a 28-vote difference exists between appointed incumbent Gerhard Weber and Kevin Hendrick, chair of the Del Norte County Democratic Central Committee.

In the Del Norte County District 5 supervisor race, a 56 vote difference exists between front-runner Dean Wilson and the current appointed supervisor, Susan Masten.

The outcome for the repeal efforts against measures R and S were decisive, however, and lifts any hesitation felt by city and county elected officials and staff. Crescent City Manager Eric Wier noted that Measure T did create hesitation among potential new recruits to the Crescent City Police Department and three new paid fire captains at Crescent City Fire & Rescue.

The fire captains are the product of a masterplan between the city and Crescent Fire Protection District that laid out strategies for sustaining the department whose volunteers were responding to about 2,000 calls for service a year. Recruiting for those positions began late last month and is expected to last through the end of next week, Wier said.

“If (Measure S) were to be repealed, that repeal would have been effective toward the end of November so we would have had to immediately revise this year’s budget,” he said.

Measure S has helped pay for the reconstruction of Front Street, which is expected to begin next spring, fire equipment, a new K9 officer at the Crescent City Police Department and upgrades to the building itself. Measure S is also paying for upgrades at the swimming pool.

In Del Norte County, Measure R allowed the hiring of a second code enforcement officer, more sheriff’s deputies and an animal services supervisor position. It also allowed for salary increases for deputies and staff at the Del Norte County Jail.

According to Howard, the repeal would have dealt an “obvious death blow to our sheriff’s personnel.”

“I think we can be more secure in our decision making about how those dollars are now spent,” he said. “We’ve been very reserved if those monies were to go away and planning for that rainy day. It’ll be very healthy for the Board to be playing offense instead of defense.”

To Crescent City Councilor Blake Inscore, the defeat of measures T and U show residents see the value of what’s happening in their community. He noted that city voters weighed in on both measures, though the county “didn’t need the city votes to maintain” Measure R.

In the city, people can actually see Measure S being put to work, Inscore said. He used Front Street as an example, pointing out that the equipment to continue the reconstruction another three blocks is on C Street right now.

“People have talked about Front Street for 20-plus years,” he said. “We have a legitimate strategy to have two thirds of Front Street completely rebuilt by next year. All you got to do is look at C Street and you’ll see stacks of drain and pipe and stuff that’s going to go in that street come next spring.”

Inscore, who ran unopposed this election for another two-year stint on the Crescent City Council, said one of the reasons he wanted to continue is he wanted to help “pick up the pieces” if the referendum against Measure S succeeded.

Though he’s happy to continue to see Measure S bring more needed projects and services to fruition, Inscore had a word of caution.

“The people of Del Norte County and Crescent City have said, ‘We trust you. We believe you’re going to do what you have said you were going to do or continue to do what you are doing.’ But we can’t rest on that,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to prove it to our people every single day. Both of us — the city and the county — are just one more election away from them saying, ‘Yeah, you promised but you didn’t deliver.’”


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