The Press Democrat just reported the amount of money Deb Fudge and James Gore have raised. Deb has raised over $200,000 almost entirely from public employee unions and James Gore over $200,000 from agriculture and corporate interests.
This is the most important election in our County’s history because our problems have never been so great. We have an unaffordable pension system that has lead to crumbling roads and service insolvency for all of us.Read more
May 13, 2014 (Santa Rosa, CA) – Ken Churchill, candidate for County Supervisor in Sonoma County’s 4th District, is pleased to announce that he has received the endorsement of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. This is a significant show of support from the Mayor of California’s third largest city whose also the leading national figure on pension reform.
“I am endorsing Ken Churchill for Sonoma County 4th District Supervisor because he has a deep understanding of the pension crisis facing Sonoma County,” said Mayor Reed.
“Ken offers the citizens of Sonoma County the chance to elect a person who has been leading the charge for reform for 3 years and has the courage, leadership abilities and financial knowledge required to solve this complex problem.”
Mayor Reed encouraged the voters to support Ken Churchill, saying, “Ken will work hard to put Sonoma County on secure financial footing and restore essential services through sensible reforms that protect benefits already earned while creating a system that is affordable to taxpayers. That is why I highly recommend you vote for Ken Churchill on June 3rd.”
Ken Churchill is in a five-way race for the northern Sonoma County Supervisor’s seat. He has earned a reputation as a citizen activist for pension reform and more funding for the County’s crumbling roads.
“I am honored to be recognized by Mayor Reed,” said Churchill. “I have admired his courage in taking on pension reform in his City and our State. This is exactly the type of leadership I am seeking to bring to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.”
Mayor Chuck Reed’s endorsement of Ken Churchill for Supervisor is yet another sign that Churchill’s grassroots campaign is gaining notice. Just last Saturday his campaign also earned the endorsement of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If no candidate receives a majority on June 3, the top two vote-getters will square off in November. Conventional wisdom suggests those two will be Fudge and Gore, with labor unions and the Democratic Party lined up in support of Fudge and business and agriculture interests backing Gore.
But there's another candidate we believe is better suited for this office, someone who entered the race late but is no newcomer to the county's problems and offers a breadth of knowledge and experience needed to hit the ground running. That person is Ken Churchill.
By MATT BROWN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Advocates for more Sonoma County road funding are treading into the city of Stockton’s bankruptcy case — seemingly unrelated geographic and ideological territory for the local group of government watchdogs.
But the proceedings in federal bankruptcy court in Sacramento could set an important legal precedent in the municipal tug-of-war between funding for public employee pensions and other basic services, according to Craig Harrison, a Sonoma County road-upkeep activist.
By MATTHEW HALL
SONOMA WEST TIMES & NEWS
Ken Churchill is running for 4th District Supervisor and the Santa Rosa resident said he believes residents are ready to back a campaign that stands apart from traditional special interest politics.
He said he had initially planned to support Tom Chambers, who he had met with and liked but when Chambers withdrew from the race, Churchill felt the need to enter the race to represent individuals who want fiscal management and good governance to be the focus of the campaign.
By MATT BROWN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The five candidates in the race for 4th District Sonoma County Supervisor agree the county’s road network is in bad shape. They differ slightly in their solutions for fixing the 1,370-miles of pavement that is consistently ranked as the worst in the Bay Area.
At a forum on roads that brought about 40 people to the Windsor Grange on Wednesday, current 4th District Supervisor Mike McGuire said that the poor condition of the network is a result of years of underfunding, declining sales and property tax revenue and a formula for distributing gas tax that favors urban counties with fewer miles of roads.
Santa Rosa winemaker Ken Churchill, an advocate of overhauling public workers’ pensions, has jumped into the race to replace Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire.
“I have been trying for several years now to get the supervisors to move pension reform forward and it just hasn’t been successful,” Churchill said, explaining his last-minute move to enter the race, just days before the filing deadline for the June 3 primary.
New Sonoma, a volunteer organization of financial experts and citizens concerned about the finances and governance of the County has just completed an extensive study of the County’s pension crisis.
In addition to describing how the County has incurred over a billion dollars in unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities, how the County ignored the requirements to notify the citizens of cost of the benefit increase and failed to follow the Board of Supervisor’s resolution requiring the employees to pay for the increase, this report also provides a first-of-its-kind comparison of Sonoma County’s pension system with neighboring counties.
The following is a summary of the study’s findings.
Here is the gravity of our county’s financial situation. From 1991 to 2000, the county spent $108 million on pensions, an average of $10.8 million per year.
From 2001 to 2010, the county spent $302 million on pensions, but ended the decade with a $330 million liability and $515 million in pension bond debt. Added together, the average cost was $114.5 million per year, 10 times more than the previous decade.
Did Sonoma County supervisors break the law in the way they boosted retirement benefits for themselves and other employees 10 years ago?
The county grand jury posed that question earlier this year, and the county issued its formal response last week. As I read through it, I was reminded of former President Bill Clinton’s famous parsing of words: “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”