Final election results released by the county on Monday drove the last nail into the Measure C coffin. The watershed and oak woodland protection ballot initiative ended up with 18,174 “no” votes and 17,533 “yes” votes, a 641-vote difference. It lost, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent.
That comes as no surprise. The last, unofficial count on June 13 left Measure C 632 votes behind with more than 1,000 votes left to be counted. The math already pointed to a Measure C defeat.
Still, Measure C opponents didn’t release an official statement until Monday, with the official count in and the election certified.
“We’re very happy with the final outcome of this effort and very pleased that Meaure C was defeated,” said Ryan Klobas of the Napa County Farm Bureau. “We now look forward to working with the proponents of Measure C, to look at opportunities where we can collaborate to protect both agriculture and our environment.”
The Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners and Winegrowers of Napa County opposed Measure C. They said it was anti-agriculture.
Measure C proponents said the proposed oak and watershed protection measures, such as different stream setbacks and oak-cutting restrictions, would protect water quality in local reservoirs. They conceded defeat after the June 13 unofficial results.
Measure C co-author Mike Hackett said last week about half the voting public agreed that more protections are needed in the agricultural watershed zoning district.
“I would say the need is apparent in this climate-change world,” Hackett said. “And to ignore it as this point is corrupt.”
Co-author Jim Wilson said in early June that Yes on Measure C ran “a grassroots, mom-and-pop, fact-based campaign, an honest campaign.”
Hackett and Wilson took exception to some of the arguments used by Measure C opponents, such as that Measure C could lead to more houses and event centers being built in local hills and to more traffic. These arguments appeared in mailers and on signs.
“It’s hard for me to get past the fact that our opponents ran a campaign that essentially tricked voters into voting against their own best interests,” Hackett said in a post-election press release.
Klobas saw the No on Measure C campaign differently. The goal was to educate the public about Measure C’s flaws and possible unintended consequences. The initiative process wasn’t the best way to address the matter, he said.
“I think that message resonated with people,” Klobas said. “Now that Measure C has been defeated, we can start the work of addressing issues with the Board of Supervisors, where these issues should have been addressed in first place.”
The Board of Supervisors on July 10 is to continue a June 19 discussion on what steps it might take.
Klobas said the Board could appoint an independent panel of scientists, engineers and other experts to look at existing county conservation laws, identify if problems exist and suggest possible refinements.
“We believe that’s the best place to start,” Klobas said.
A bruising election may have left some hurt feelings, but Klobas said the two sides can get together now that the “yes” and “no” on Measure C campaigns have ended.
“I honestly believe cooler heads can prevail on this and we can sit down and have very constructive collaboration,” Klobas said.
Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said in a press release that the county’s turnout for the election — the first all mail-in primary ballot — was 49.22 percent. That compares to a 39.55-percent turnout for the previous gubernatorial primary election in June 2014.
He is waiting to see the statewide turnout to determine if steps taken as a Voter’s Choice Act pilot county for mail-in ballots boosted the turnout. Napa County turnout is usually 12 percent to 13 percent ahead of the state, Tuteur said.