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December 3, 2022

Candidate Sees Divided Future for Healdsburg

23-year-old Mathew Lopez came in third in race for 2-year seat

The writer was the youngest candidate for city council since Mike McGuire ran in 2004. He came in third in the three-way race for the open 2-year seat.

I stayed positive throughout the election, but I’m not surprised by the results. Marketing was my biggest challenge. Every current/former council member I met expressed the same idea: You need to spend money to win any election. If it didn’t work, nobody would buy signs. 

But there’s more to the results. There was some vote splitting between Brigette (Mansell) and me. We foresaw this possibility since our platforms are very similar and met in October to discuss it. Nothing meaningful came of the meeting, but I believe a significant number of my supporters would vote for Brigette if I didn’t exist. I don’t mean to take away from Ron’s (presumed) victory. He worked the hardest out of us three and deserves credit.

I’m happy with how I did. Ten percent of the votes! But my campaign is more meaningful. In 2010, a third of Healdsburg was Latino. This 33% figure is still used today, incorrectly. Today’s population is similar to 2010, but the most recent census revealed only 26% of Healdsburg is Latino. This wasn’t a result of the pandemic. Our town’s population peaked in 2018 and is in decline. Despite being here for just as long, Latinos appear to be ones driven out. After everything, I wanted there to at least be a historical record that we tried to seek more representation.

I have confidence in our leaders, but I urge the council to try again with Measure R from 2016 (to address housing disparity). Clarify the language and address what made it fail, then encourage the development of more missing middle class and affordable homes. The middle class is shrinking, and the cost of houses is rising. Healdsburg has a large aging population, and folks aren’t realizing who can buy those houses when they go for sale. 

Looking at trends, it’s possible that by the next census Healdsburg won’t be a small town of locals, but a private club of people who move in this decade.

Note: As we go to press, Ron Edwards maintains a narrow 47-vote lead over Brigette Mansell for the 2-year city council seat, 1,456 to 1,409. Lopez currently has 293 votes.