Coonerty Wins Santa Cruz Supervisor Seat in Landslide

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In a primary election on Tuesday, June 6, Neal Coonerty, owner of California's Bookshop Santa Cruz, easily won a seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. Coonerty garnered 58 percent of the vote, while his two opponents, Chris Krohn and Jonathan Boutelle, won 25 percent and 12 percent of the votes, respectively, as reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

"It feels fabulous," Coonerty told BTW. "It's nice to work hard at a campaign and execute it well." He noted that just prior to the election, he was hit with a negative piece from one of his opponents that "said I dedicated my career to helping chain stores.... It was a little absurd and people here knew my background."

For Coonerty, the primary win came at the perfect time. "My daughter Casey [Coonerty Protti] is taking over the bookshop, and this makes it much quicker and gets me out of her hair," he said with a chuckle. "This will be the first time in 33 years that I will be doing something other than being a bookseller."

It won't be the first time that Coonerty has held office, however. In the last 15 years, in addition to his service as a director on the American Booksellers Association's board and two terms as president, Coonerty was a Santa Cruz city councilman from 1990 to 1994 and the city's mayor in 1993.

Back in March of this year, Coonerty entered the race for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors after the incumbent, Mardi Wormhoudt, made public her decision to retire. Initially, his plan had been to run for the supervisor seat for the third district -- which covers the city of Santa Cruz and the north coast -- at the end of Wormhoudt's next term. However, he explained to BTW in late March, "She decided to retire [in March], and you had to sign up to run by March 15."

If no candidate had received more than 50 percent of the vote, there would have been a runoff between the top two candidates in November, the Sentinel noted. Fortunately, by winning with 58 percent and avoiding a November election, it will give Coonerty some time to learn more about his position on the board, to "meet with department heads," and make the transition into his new role that much smoother. He will take over as third district supervisor of Santa Cruz County in January 2007. --David Grogan