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Star editorial: Cottrell for Napa County District 3 supervisor

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In a race between two exceptional candidates, we’re endorsing Anne Cottrell for District 3 supervisor.

We previously endorsed Cottrell and her opponent, John Dunbar, out of the six candidates who ran in the June primary. Voters agreed, choosing Cottrell — June’s top vote-getter — and Dunbar to compete in the Nov. 8 runoff.

After conducting follow-up interviews with both candidates, we’re still convinced that either one would be a fine supervisor. Our decision was not unanimous, but a majority of our board believes Cottrell’s county-level experience and strong analytical and communication skills make her the best choice.

Cottrell’s eight years as a county planning commissioner, her prior career as an attorney specializing in land use and natural resources management, and her tenure on nonprofit boards such as the Land Trust of Napa County board are more directly relevant to the job of a District 3 supervisor than Dunbar’s 12-year tenure as mayor of Yountville.

Cottrell’s endorsements represent a broad cross-section of the Upvalley, from grapegrowers to entrepreneurs to environmental activists to everyday folks. District 1 Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht and Napa Mayor Scott Sedgley endorse Cottrell. The most telling endorsement is that of departing District 3 Supervisor Diane Dillon, who knows the job better than anyone and is convinced that Cottrell is the most qualified to do it. 

During both of our interviews with her, Cottrell impressed us with her authentic and approachable demeanor, analytical skills, and direct, concise answers to our questions. She can break down complex problems — without oversimplifying them — and articulate the best ways to solve them. She never lapses into bloviating verbosity, and she has an instinctive sense of when to stop talking and just listen.

That’s not to take away from Dunbar’s considerable qualifications. The contacts he’s developed at the regional, state and federal levels would make him an effective advocate for District 3. He's endorsed by the Napa County Farm Bureau and the Winegrowers of Napa County.

Yountville’s tourist-friendly reputation raises eyebrows around the Upvalley, but there’s no denying the town’s robust finances, commitment to recycling wastewater, and success at requiring developers to build affordable housing. It’s a well-run town, and Dunbar deserves much of the credit.

Like Cottrell, Dunbar has staked out reasonable and thoughtful positions on vineyard development, housing, wildfire preparedness and advocating for District 3’s rural values. You’ll find contrasts in emphasis and nuance between the two candidates, but you won’t find stark policy differences.

That’s why we’re basing our endorsement on Cottrell’s more pertinent county-level experience and her analytical and communication skills.

District 3 is lucky to have two strong candidates on the ballot, but Cottrell is the strongest.

The Star editorial board consists of Napa Valley Publishing president Jay Scott, Napa Valley Register editor Dan Evans and community volunteers Norma Ferriz, Shannon Kuleto, Bonnie Long, Peter McCrea, Chuck Meibeyer, Gail Showley and Dave Yewell. McCrea was not involving in the candidate interviews or the drafting of this editorial because he'd already personally endorsed one of the candidates.

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