VOLUNTEERS Volunteers at the Healdsburg Community Center aiding voters in the March, 2024 primary. Center, Cathy Whiteman, with Wendy Birky at right.

The so-called Super Tuesday Election took place on March 5, with races in 15 states across the country. While the results of presidential primaries were the subject of much press coverage, in Sonoma County the most-watched races were much closer to home.

The State Assembly District 2 seat, and a county emergency services sales tax (Measure H), drew as much if not more attention than the primary race for US Senator, or the state-wide Proposition 1 initiative.

CANDIDATES Democratic candidates for State Assembly District 2, from top: Rusty Hicks, Ariel Kelley, Frankie Myers, Chris Rogers, Ted Willlams.

County-wide, voter turnout was about 25%.

The top two vote-getters in these primary elections, including for State Assembly and U.S. Senate, will advance to the general election in November. The preponderance of Democratic candidates created a split vote among party candidates, while a Republican candidate more easily advanced to the general election.

The closely-watched Assembly District 2 race, to take over the North Coast seat from retiring Jim Wood, drew heavy interest and sizeable campaign funding in Sonoma County. A “carpetbagger” campaign against California Democratic Party chair Rusty Hicks of Arcata drew responding mailers attacking Kelley’s “big oil” money, while Santa Rosa’s Chris Rogers was attacked by a state real estate PAC.

As the vote totals stood at noon on March 8, three days after the election, Rogers of Santa Rosa had received almost 19.5% of the vote among Democrats, while Hicks was less than a percentage point behind at 18.9%, with fewer than 400 votes difference between them.

But updated results posted just five hours later showed that Rogers had increased his lead to 20.6% to 18.4% for Hicks, picking up almost twice the number of votes.

Runners-up included Healdsburg’s Ariel Kelley with 14.1%, Yurok tribal leader Frankie Myers with 10.8% and Mendocino County supervisor Ted Williams with 7.1%.

Republican Mike Greer of Del Norte received the most votes overall, with about 28.4% of the total. Results will be certified by April 12, to determine whether Rogers or Hicks will face Greer in November.

Sonoma County’s Measure H, which will impose a half-cent sales tax to support fire prevention services, appeared headed for victory with 60% of the vote.


The Senate race came in two parts—the two-month partial term to fill out the unexpired six-year seat, and a separate ballot line to take the next six years. Laphonza Butler currently holds the seat, having been appointed by Gov. Newsom, but she vowed not to run this year.

Democrat Adam Schiff defeated his primary rivals easily in both races. As the only Republican in the race, Steve Garvey’s overall numbers were on a par with Schiff’s, and both will be on the ballot in November.

Out of the running were high-profile Democratic candidates Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.

State Proposition 1 for mental health treatment facilities was scoring 50.3% statewide, over 47.7% against. Heavily promoted by Gov. Newsom, the initiative includes a bond to build treatment facilities and permanent supportive housing for people with mental health and addiction challenges. It also proposes changes to the Mental Health Services Act, a longstanding tax on personal incomes over $1 million, by requiring counties to spend 30% of that revenue on housing instead of other services.

Both Prop. 1 and the Democratic candidate for Assembly District 2 will likely go down to the wire, and not be officially certified for another five weeks. Mail-in ballots dated March 5 will be accepted until March 12, so results at that date are likely to be fairly accurate overall.

Final legal certification is required by April 12.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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