Santa Cruz Sheriff race 2014

A number of county-wide offices are up for election for the June 3 primary. Most are uncontested, and I don’t live in either of the two districts where voters will select a new county supervisor so I haven’t paid much attention to those contests.

The interesting race is that between retired sheriff lieutenants Bob Pursley and Roger Wildey against Deputy Chief Jim Hart. There are a number of substantive differences between all three candidates, but I’m curious about their views on traffic safety.

Santa Cruz Sheriff candidates 2014

Santa Cruz County does have a significant problem with violent crime, with eight homicides in 2013. The county also averages 19 traffic fatalities each year for the past decade. Most of them occur on our state highways which are under the investigative jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol, but a large number of injury collisions with pedestrians and bicycles occur on county roads.

The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s department patrols unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County. This includes all of the towns between Santa Cruz and Capitola in addition to miles and miles of rural mountain roads.

Unfortunately… our candidates don’t really say much on their websites, and I’m probably a little late in the game to send a questionnaire to these candidates on the topic. Ah well.

Hart list of endorsements is an impressive Who’s Who of Santa Cruz political and business establishment, which is either a plus or minus for you. He’s also received endorsements from several bike advocates in the city of Santa Cruz. One weird thing I’ve seen: Jim Hart (who leans somewhat to the left on issues of drug policy and the 2nd Amendment) campaign signs sharing front lawn space with signs endorsing Tea Party candidate for Governor Tim Donnelly.

Bob Pursley’s campaign seems the least organized, but he’s holding a meet and greet tonight at the Aptos Bike Station from 6:30 PM to 8 PM. As far as I know he’s the only candidate who owns his own business. I’ll try to be there tonight to get a read on his views on bikes and pedestrian safety in unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County.

Finally, Roger Wildey is running on a theme that he’s outside of the Santa Cruz establishment. I don’t know his particulars on traffic safety, but Wildey’s stated opposition to red-light enforcement is enough to give me significant pause.

Ballots were mailed out to all registered voters on May 5; you have until May 27 to mail your ballot in.


  1. The job of traffic safety on county roads is vested in the California Highway Patrol. It has been so since 1929.

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