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July 18, 2024

Friend, Steinbruner face off again for Supervisor seat

Zach Friend is running for his third term as Santa Cruz County Supervisor in the 2nd District against a familiar foe.

Becky Steinbruner, an outspoken community activist living in rural Aptos, will challenge the incumbent for the second time. She lost to Friend in 2016, a year after she tried to unseat the Supervisor via a recall effort. 

“People should have a choice,” Steinbruner, 64, said. “I’m not running to make a name for myself or to advance my image or my status.”

Steinbruner said she ran against Friend in 2016 for the same reason. She said she now has a better grasp on the process of local government, and wants to make it as accessible as possible for residents by increasing transparency and accountability.

“The [Board of Supervisors] meetings are held, but the outcome rarely reflects what the people said,” Steinbruner said.

She would also advocate for County Fire to receive more funding to help protect the rural and scenic areas of the county.

Friend, 40, championed the Supervisors’ stance and progress on affordable housing, public safety and parks. For public safety, he promoted the addition of more Sheriff’s officers and a special investigator for crimes against seniors in the District Attorney’s Office, as well as the construction of the mid-county public safety center, which opened in Aptos last year. And for parks, he pointed to the creation of the Pinto Lake pump track and the ongoing construction of the beginner skate park in Seacliff.

Friend holds endorsements from a slew of local officials, including State Senator Bill Monning, State Assemblymember Mark Stone, County Office of Education Superintendent Faris Sabbah, Sheriff Jim Hart, District Attorney Jeff Rosell and nearly all Capitola and Watsonville city council members.


The Supervisors in November of last year approved a 100 percent affordable housing project on Capitola Road that included 57 housing units, as well as community health and dental centers.

Friend said that it should be the “model” project for a county that continues to struggle with skyrocketing housing prices and homelessness. 

“That’s an unassailable project,” Friend said.

Steinbruner, however, said the approval process did not involve the nearby neighbors enough. As supervisor, she would introduce a staking and flagging ordinance, which would require the county to create a temporary structure of the proposed development with the exact height of the project in the days leading up to its public hearing. That, she said, would allow residents to get involved at the right time.

“A lot of people call me a NIMBY, but I don’t think that’s a fair assessment,” Steinbruner said. “I only want the public to have proper input.”

Friend said that the county can no longer look at housing with the same mindset of the last three decades, and that the process is not what many neighbors have gripes with.

“Everybody agrees that housing is the No. 1 issue and you talk about homelessness, which is directly associated with housing cost, and so how do you look at those two problems and say, ‘so we should build nothing,’” Friend said. “I think the process was fine. It’s not about the process. It’s easy to hide behind the process.”

Friend and Steinbruner said they would both push and help UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College to build more on-campus housing for their students, which would alleviate the impact of the schools’ population on the housing market. 

Steinbruner would also push for the county to increase its affordable housing percentages from 15 percent to 20.

Friend, meanwhile, highlighted an accessory dwelling units ordinance he introduced that removed all fees for ADUs under 640 square feet, and a forgivable loan program for people willing to deed restrict their ADU.

“In the last few years we’ve not only approved more affordable housing projects but also set affordable housing policies,” Friend said.


Steinbruner believes more funds from Measure D, the half-cent sales tax for county roads and transit passed by voters in 2016, should be used to resurface and repair more ailing roads, especially in District 2, which she called an “utter mess.”

Friend over the last year spent time in Washington D.C. securing federal funding for several emergency road repairs around the county. Thirty projects over the next half year will begin construction because of those efforts.

“But that’s not a solution,” he said. “Emergency repair is not a solution and I don’t know if there is one.”

As for the ever-growing traffic on Highway 1, Steinbruner said the planned rail-trail path should be opened up to electric carts to alleviate the amount of vehicles on the road.

“We need to give transportation options,” she said.

Friend said the highway needs to be widened and the county’s two largest employers, UCSC and the County of Santa Cruz, also need to become a part of the solution. He would like to see them expand and create more satellite offices in the southern portion of the county, and encourage them to allow more employees to telecommute.

The Supervisors, he said, should not be trying to solve today and tomorrow’s issues by using the methods of yesterday.

“Work isn’t a place you go to, it’s something you do and we, especially the public sector, need to understand that dynamic is shifting,” Friend said. “It would have a faster effect on traffic than any transportation solution I can do.”

Other local elections:

County Supervisor, District 1

There will be a six-person race for Supervisor in the county’s first district. Betsy Riker, Benjamin T. Cogan, Mark Esquibel, Donald “Kase” Kreutz and Manu Koenig will all challenge incumbent John Leopold. The following statements were submitted to the county’s election office. Riker did not submit a statement. 

John Leopold (Incumbent)

As your Supervisor, I continue to work tirelessly to strengthen our community, empower our neighborhoods and accomplish our shared goals.

We have protected our neighborhoods by limiting vacation rentals. When oil companies eyed our county for new development, we developed regulations that made us the first to ban fracking in the state. When flight paths changed causing severe noise pollution, we forced the FAA to come to the table to address the concerns of our community.

Through our shared commitment to our community we have built a Boys & Girls Club, the first family healthcare office in Live Oak, Heart of Soquel Park and the first all-inclusive playground at Chanticleer Park. Partnering with our schools we have created the award-winning Cradle to Career program, helping families achieve their hopes and dreams.

The experience I have gained and the trust you have given me has produced results.  Let’s continue by protecting our neighbors in mobile home parks from out-of-town speculators and provide resources for our most vulnerable families. Let’s work together to address the critical issues of transportation, climate change and affordable housing.

No one will outwork me. No one will listen more attentively. Send me your ideas: [email protected].

On March 3, please vote for John Leopold.

Benjamin T. Cogan

I am running to make a difference because I believe in Santa Cruz.  I see our government slipping away from the will of the people. Local policy is currently coming from appointed officials, stake holders and outside interest groups in the form of regional policy. AMBAG represents this.  I will insure that the people’s voice is heard as part of the policy making process. I have been a full time mechanic for over 12 years and work hard like you to pay my bills. I have a strong passion for our freedom. The constitution was written to protect people like us from government overreach and preserve our unalienable rights. I honor the position of county Supervisor as a way of service and a responsibility like jury duty.  Standing up to unjust laws, unnecessary regulations and protecting property rights. I’m interested in re-instating the citizen’s appeals board for the planning department. I will open the dialog on potential impacts of the 5G infrastructure. I would like to find solutions for the housing crisis and create community gardens. I am a BSA Eagle Scout. On March 3 I recommend we vote via paper ballot, and then I request your vote.

Manu Koenig

Santa Cruz County has been my family’s home for three generations. I’m committed to helping our community overcome impossible housing costs, stifling traffic, and appalling suffering among the homeless, so that this remains a great place to live.

I’m motivated by the climate crisis and have dedicated my career to building political will through community engagement and new solutions. After graduating from Stanford University, I founded a company enabling anyone to propose new policy and vote online. As Executive Director of Santa Cruz County Greenway I’ve advocated tirelessly for bike and pedestrian safety, building a trail in the rail corridor, and using our tax dollars wisely.

Having served on the Board of Directors for my own business, as well as that of Digital Nest, and the City of Santa Cruz’s Downtown Commission, I understand the importance of proactively setting the agenda.

I will set the agenda to serve you by: helping first time home buyers, building affordable housing, improving public transit, installing protected bike lanes, reducing needle litter and getting vulnerable people off of the streets and into places where they can heal.

Together we’ll make our county government transparent, responsive, and effective.

I’d be honored by your vote.

Mark Esquibel

Contaminated homeless encampments, sky-high taxes, needles everywhere, neglected roads, endless Highway 1 gridlock, “catch-and-release” for violent offenders, greedy out-of-town developers denying public access, a mental health crisis, and a billion dollar fantasy railroad bankrupting local taxpayers.

Is this the Surf City paradise that we grew up in? Enough is enough. Over 10 years of electing the status quo has taken its toll on our community. Everywhere around us, there are major challenges that go on ignored by the local political establishment. People have asked me, “Why are you running for this office?” So let me ask you this…are you better off now than you were a decade ago? If your answer is no, keep reading.

I have 20 years of experience in successfully managing hazardous and potentially life-threatening disasters. Having been raised by a single Mom, I value family and am a working father of three. In my early years, I served my community as a beach lifeguard assisting in ocean rescues. As a native son of Santa Cruz, I know I’m not alone in wanting to take pride in our hometown again.

It’s time for real representation, real change, and real results. Make your mark. Vote Mark Esquibel for Supervisor.

Donald Kase Kreutz

My name is Donald Kase Kreutz and I am running for Supervisor in the First District of Santa Cruz County. It is time at a local level to accomplish tasks that our leaders are incapable of resolving.     

In broad strokes, and with apologies for the brevity of my explanation, I would pursue the following: build affordable housing, increase tenant protection including for mobile home owners, mobile home park rule changes and code enforcement, immediate naturalization for all foreign born residents, jobs training, increase 24 by 24 public transit while limiting auto access for non-residents, Aeolians on Summit Road, universal rent control, increase minimum wage, all employers required to provide some benefits. 

The big votes: banning of all private firearm ownership including for police, an end to local taxpayer support for all United States wars and if passed, secession-parliamentary democracy-protection by a civilian army (Swiss model), a future as a true civilized democracy, beyond the NRA, CIA, the neo cons or the greed that is destroying the world, country and our lives.

Superior Court Judge

Annrae Angel, Nancy de la Peña and Jack Gordon will battle for Department 1. The following statements were submitted to the county’s election office. 

Annrae Angel

Judges Matter. In Santa Cruz County, we can protect our community from violent and other crimes by improving how we manage drug and mental health offenses in the courts.

Over my three-decade career in civil, family, and criminal law, I have argued thousands of cases that exposed me to a range of solutions to problems that confront communities every day. My early days as a law clerk with a district attorney, my many years representing court-appointed and low-income clients, and my courtroom experience as a pro tem judge all taught me to listen carefully, treat everyone fairly, compassionately and with dignity, and decide each case ethically.

Most importantly, as a 27-year resident, with two children educated in Santa Cruz County public schools, I care deeply about the well-being of our community. That’s why I was the only attorney principled and courageous enough to challenge an incumbent who had violated judicial ethics. I will have the strength to bring drug and mental health services into the courtrooms, improve the juvenile justice system, and short-circuit the cycle of re-offense. That’s why 24 Superior Court judges and commissioners, over 100 attorneys, multiple local groups, and hundreds of community members throughout Santa Cruz County endorse me.

Please vote Annrae Angel, March 3, 2020. 

Nancy de la Peña 

If elected I will bring experience, integrity and diversity to the Santa Cruz County Superior Court.  

Throughout my thirty-three years as both a Santa Cruz County Deputy Public Defender and an Assistant Santa Cruz County Counsel, I handled thousands of criminal, dependency and juvenile cases.  My years of trial experience have taught me that listening and treating people with respect are not only good qualities in an advocate, but are the same skills that help ensure that I will be both an effective and fair judge. 

With many years of local practice, I bring the respect, support and endorsement of numerous Judges from the Santa Cruz County Superior Court.  Not only am I supported by many lawyers in the Santa Cruz criminal defense bar, I am also endorsed by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart, members of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement officers, and other elected officials.  The local leaders who support my candidacy know I will work hard, treat people with dignity, and serve our entire community.

I am proud to be a part of this community. My wife, Janet, and I raised our two daughters in Santa Cruz. I coached local youth soccer teams for ten years here and have been a member of the Board of Directors of Familia Center, the Santa Cruz County Women Lawyers, and the Santa Cruz County Bar Association. 

I would be honored to earn your vote for judge.

Jack Gordon

I have spent my entire professional career in the local criminal justice field becoming a practicing attorney in 1993 and am known as one of the most respected attorneys in the Bay Area. In my law practice I have effectively handled over 1,000 juvenile cases and over 1,500 adult criminal cases, including 25 cases involving representation of individuals charged with murder. I have also served as an Instructor at San Jose State University’s Institute of Criminal Investigations and on the Santa Clara County Arbitration Panel. I was appointed for multiple terms by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors as a Civil Service Commissioner for over 10 years, including serving as Chair.

Prior to my law practice, I served as a law enforcement officer for the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Cruz for sixteen years.  I was elected President of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, co-authored California State Sheriff’s Association Statutory Duties and Authorities Manual (1988-1989), served as Team Leader for the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), and worked on special assignment with both the Homicide Task Force and Rape Task Force. I earned my B.A. in History from San Jose State University and completed my Juris Doctorate degree from Santa Clara University.

The right experience equals the right choice.

Vote for Jack Gordon, Superior Court Judge.

State Senator, 17th District

Maria Cadenas, John Laird, Vicki Nohrden and John M. Nevill are running for State Senator in the 17th District, which covers most of Santa Cruz County. The following statements were submitted to the county’s election office. Nohrden and Nevill did not submit a statement. 

Maria Cadenas

We want the basics: housing that is affordable, accessible quality healthcare without high deductibles, clean water and clean air, good schools, and jobs that allow us to save and pay the bills. Right now, however, these feel out of reach. ​As a mom of a 10-year-old girl, a renter, and a woman, this is personal for me. We cannot keep hoping that the old ideas that got us here will fix the problems they caused. We must do better. For over 20 years, I’ve worked to improve healthcare, increase support for small business owners, increase affordable housing, build housing for children aging out of foster care, increase legal aid to immigrant families, create academic and career pipelines for farmworkers, provide every newborn  in Santa Cruz County with a college savings account, and fight predatory lenders. I’ve worked with governments, corporations, growers, farmworkers, nonprofits, and policy makers across the U.S., California, and in our region to thoughtfully develop practical solutions that actually work to improve people’s lives. I’m not a career politician. I get things done by focusing on what matters most – people and planet. I’m the only Democratic woman, only immigrant, only Latina, and only candidate in this race who will not accept corporate money. My personal commitment to service and my love of our communities is what compels me to run. Join me and let’s work together to create opportunity for all families and all people to thrive. 

John Laird

We have just ten years to take dramatic steps to save our planet’s climate, with increasing wildfires and sea level rise threatening our communities. Strong, effective action is required to tackle climate change, along with the affordable housing crisis, the goal of universal health insurance coverage and the need for a sustainable and accessible education system.

There is no time for on-the-job training. For eight years, I served as Governor Brown’s Secretary for Natural Resources, working hard on California’s climate change efforts, protection of prime agricultural land, leading the state’s ocean protection program, and pushing back on federal attempts for more oil drilling off our coast.

As a Mayor, City Councilmember, Transit Director, Transportation Commissioner, Nonprofit Director, and Community College Trustee, I developed experience to tackle the key issues we face. As an Assemblymember, I authored 82 bills signed into law, including on environmental protection, water conservation, first-time homebuyers, civil rights, restoring community college health services, and more.  As Assembly Budget Chair, I fought for healthcare, education, and our environment.

I have the endorsement of teacher, firefighter, nurse, and building trades worker organizations – as well as the League of Conservation Voters, Equality California, Governor Newsom, former Governor Brown, Senator Monning, and many local mayors, county supervisors, and school boardmembers. I have the endorsement of the Democratic Party. I want to take my experience, drive, and commitment to Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties to serve the people who live here. I respectfully ask for your vote.

U.S. Representative in Congress, 20th District

Jimmy Panetta (Incumbent)

As your United States Representative, I’m fighting to give people the opportunity for a better life. Having grown up on the Central Coast, with a deep sense of public service, I’ve dedicated my career to giving back to our community and country.

As an Afghanistan War veteran, former deputy district attorney, and, now, your Representative, I know what it means and takes to serve our nation and stand up for our Central Coast values. 

As the grandson of immigrants, I’m fighting for common sense immigration reform with protections for our farmworkers and an earned pathway to citizenship for families and Dreamers.

I’m defending our precious environment by protecting our pristine coastline and public lands from oil drilling, working toward agricultural and ecological sustainability, and most importantly, creating sound policy to combat the growing effects of the climate crisis. 

I’m working to lower costs for healthcare and prescription drugs, increase access to higher education, protect programs for vulnerable children and seniors, enact fair tax policies, support agriculture research and food security, and ensure veterans receive their deserved benefits. 

I’m upholding the constitutional responsibilities of Congress in our democratic system of checks and balances.

I’m promoting local jobs by supporting our diverse economy of agriculture, tourism, education, research, and small businesses.

I’m fighting for equality and to protect women’s rights. 

I’ll continue to bring energy and new ideas to Congress and work together to get things done for our Central Coast families.

I’d be honored by your vote.  

Adam Bolaños Scow

I’m the grandson of a farmworker and the son of school teachers. I’m a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and have been an environmental advocate for over 14 years.

As California Director for Food & Water Watch I helped win campaigns to ban fracking in Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey Counties. I’ve also worked with community leaders to support public ownership of the water system on the Monterey Peninsula.

I’m running for Congress to help solve two big crises.

First we must solve an affordability crisis that is already forcing many to leave our district. I will fight for a range of solutions including Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, and a federal commitment to fund truly affordable housing. New market-rate housing is unaffordable to most of us.

Second, we must solve a climate crisis that is growing worse. We must transition to renewable energy and get off of fossil fuels. I will champion a Green New Deal with a plan to get to 100% renewable energy by 2030. This is an opportunity to create millions of new jobs and have a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.

I strongly support a path to citizenship to all of our neighbors who have been working here in our district and their children as well.

I do not accept campaign contributions from corporations.

Our district deserves a member of Congress who will help pass bold solutions, because now more than ever, our lives depend on it.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.

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