While Owens glides in, college bond measure not so lucky | SierraSun.com

While Owens glides in, college bond measure not so lucky

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

Measure E, Sierra College’s $394 million bond, lost in Tuesday’s election throwing Truckee’s new college campus plans into limbo, while unopposed Nevada County District 5 Supervisor candidate Ted Owens collected official victory.

Bruce Kranz edged incumbent Rex Bloomfield in the District 5 Placer County Supervisor race. Kranz collected 52.9 percent of the vote, while Bloomfield lost with 46.7 percent.

Statewide, Gov. Schwarzenegger scored big wins with the passage of Proposition 57, the $15 billion bond, and Proposition 58, the balanced budget act. Proposition 57 had 63 percent support and Proposition 58 had a strong 71 percent backing.

The loss of Measure E in the four-county district casts doubt on the future of a new Sierra College campus in Truckee. The college had agreed to buy McIver Hill, the site south of Interstate 80 and east of state Route 89 south, if the measure passed. College officials, despite deep disappointment in the defeat, hinted that the board of trustees may vote to place the bond on the November contest.

“It’s a resounding defeat,” said Sierra College President and Superintendent Kevin Ramirez. “To get only 47 percent approval has us spinning right now.”

The measure, which needed 55 percent support to pass, received its strongest support in Nevada County, with more than 54 percent supporting the bond. Only 47 percent of Placer County’s voters backed the measure.

Ramirez believes that the loss was partially due to the glut of bond money requests on the ballot.

“Because we are the most conservative county in the state of California, in a bad economy … I believe conservatives were willing to reach in their wallets for Arnold and give a dollar to help him solve the state budget crisis, but they were not willing to reach in their wallet and give a dollar to Sierra College,” Ramirez said.

The only two options that Ramirez sees for making upgrades and repairs to Sierra College campuses are to place the measure back on the ballot, or borrow money the conventional way.

“There are significant fix and repair safety issues in the campus in Rocklin,” he said. “That’s the only option I see … to borrow money.”

However, the trustees have a history of not borrowing money, Ramirez said, making the new Sierra College campus in Truckee unlikely, but not impossible, if the measure does not pass in a future election.

“The next thing that pops up is: Does Sierra College want to borrow money to buy the site (McIver Hill)? It’s still an option,” Ramirez said.

Meanwhile, Sierra College will be looking at the voting numbers to see why they lost support on a measure campaign that they felt was strong. If they do decide to place the measure back on the ballot for November, the board of trustees would have to decide by early July.

“We’re still doing the analysis to see why we got such a strong message from the voters,” Ramirez said.

Meager number of voters in Truckee

Pollworkers were reporting very low turnout in Truckee precincts throughout the day, some were at 10 percent at 2 p.m., and reaching 20 percent by 6 p.m. The elections office reported about a 39 percent turnout in the District 5 Supervisorial race.

“Very poor, very poor turnout,” said Elections inspector Mavis Bowes, stationed at the Truckee Donner Public Utility District board room. “Many people are allowing a few people to decide the issues.”

Nevada County voter turnout was almost 56 percent, with 2,909 votes still to be counted, the elections office reported. Just more than 50 percent of Placer County voter headed to the polls.

Jack and Jane Anderson, two of the very few voters trickling out of the Truckee Community Center polling place on Church Street in the afternoon, supported Gov. Schwarzenegger’s propositions.

“We’ve got to bail this state out,” said Jack Anderson. “We’re in trouble.”

The Andersons, residents of Coachland, noted the absence of voters.

“We need more young people to come out here and vote,” said Jane Anderson. To which Jack replied, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

Steve Batie, who arrived later in the evening, said he also supported the governor’s fiscal bailout initiatives.

“I’d like to give Arnie a chance,” Batie said. “I’d like to see him succeed.”

However, other voters, like Rick Martin, didn’t see borrowing more money as a solution to the state’s financial crisis.

“I voted ‘no’ on all the bonds because we are too far in debt already,” Martin said. “And I don’t think that we should go further in debt.”