Alan Riquelmy: I’ll have one more cup
Elections, for reporters, are like a triple shot of espresso.
Everyone would come in later, expecting an especially late night. They’d then crowd into the newsroom, shoulder to shoulder with retirees and high schoolers, everyone enlisted to help with one of the biggest nights of the year.
Pizza would be strewn across the room as the editor laid out the game plan. Reporters knew their candidates and where to find them. Photographers ran from site to site, capturing the night’s energy.
And everyone had later deadlines — all the time in the world, until, usually suddenly, it wasn’t.
Elections were fun because of the energy they provided, the adrenaline pumping through alternatively boiling (primary election) nights, and freezing (general election) ones.
Elections, the public service announcement might have said, were my drug of choice.
Looking back, I now think elections were more fun precisely because there was so much time between them. Months and months of empty space, filled only briefly with that triple shot. It was their infrequency that made them special.
Of course, it would be California to increase my caffeine intake, and turn a prized visit to a local coffee roaster into a seemingly regular occurrence.
It started in 2019, shortly after former state Sen. Ted Gaines exited stage right for a spot on the state’s Board of Equalization. That left an empty seat in the Senate — one of 40 for a state of some 39 million people.
What followed were four elections in one year. State Assemblyman Brian Dahle hopped in the race for the seat — the first election. He and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley then went to a runoff — that’s the second election, which Dahle won. That left an empty Assembly seat waiting for a representative, and we then had a third election, and finally a fourth — the runoff for the third — to determine whether Elizabeth Betancourt or Dahle’s wife, Megan Dahle, would take the seat.
We barely had time to catch our breaths before the March 2020 primary, followed by the November general election.
And now, thanks to the state’s recall election rules, it looks like we’ll have two elections this year, followed by the June 2022 primary and the November 2022 midterm.
It’s all enough to make you jittery.
Truckee will have a local election in August. Hopefully, around that same time, we’ll learn when the recall election will occur. Natalie Adona, assistant clerk-recorder/registrar of voters for Nevada County, said the election must occur 60 to 80 days after a formal notice. So we’re looking at around November or December.
That’s a Christmas gift that comes with a hefty price tag. Estimates call for anywhere from $100 million to $400 million for the recall.
According to Adona, the Truckee fire district must reimburse the county for elections costs up there. For the recall, it’s not as clear. It appears the state must OK a budget item covering the election cost. If that doesn’t happen, well, the county will start researching its reimbursement options.
Regardless of what pot the money comes from, we know its original source: us.
You don’t need a calendar to realize that spending this amount of scratch on a recall, when we’ll get the chance to throw the bums out about 12 months afterward, is a poor use of funds.
Recalls, in general, seem foolish to me. This is why we limit the length of a term. If you’re unhappy, you get a chance to boot the person from office when their term ends. We also limit the number of terms anyone can serve, so we don’t have officials camp out in the same office for a whole career.
Admittedly, it’s a bit late for these arguments. The recall will happen, and if Gavin Newsom keeps his job, then we’ll do the whole thing again a year later.
And the Sierra Sun and our sister newspapers The Union and Tahoe Daily Tribune will cover the elections, though our focus will be on the local races, like the one in Truckee, our primary and the following midterm.
Before we get started on those, though, let me get one more cup.
Alan Riquelmy is the editor-in-chief at the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at 530-477-4239.
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