In the News

Don Lane, Cynthia Mathews lead Santa Cruz council race: Pamela Comstock and Micah Posner also win seats

By J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 11/07/12 11:27:15 PM PST

SANTA CRUZ - Mayor Don Lane and three-time former Mayor Cynthia Mathews topped the race for four seats on the City Council, with first-time candidates Pamela Comstock and Micah Posner also winning seats.

With all 36 precincts reporting, Lane easily won his re-election bid, with 19 percent of the vote in early returns. Mathews made a strong showing after a two-year break, running shortly behind Lane with 17 percent.

Comstock, a software executive and founding board member of Take Back Santa Cruz, placed third with 16 percent. Posner a longtime bicycling advocate and former Santa Cruz County Democratic Party leader Richelle Noroyan had been running neck and neck in early returns, but Posner shot ahead later Tuesday night, with a 2,300-point lead. He gained 15 percent of the vote and was behind Comstock by just 83 votes early Wednesday.

Lane said he believed his strong support demonstrated people appreciated his leadership during this past year as the council's leader, helping to bring the Golden State Warriors' Development League to town while also handling the early days of the debate over a proposed desalination plant.

"I think it was less about issues and more about being open," Lane said, citing feedback he heard on the campaign trail.

Similar to 2010, when a trio of like-minded candidates swept into office on a platform of public safety and the economy, the 2012 race was defined by calls for a stronger climate for business development and safer streets. The candidates with the three highest totals early Tuesday were those who drew the largest support from political, business and public safety leaders.

Comstock, who has led fundraising since the summer, is a founding board member of Take Back Santa Cruz, an anti-crime community group that formed three years ago to raise awareness about drug dens and gang violence. In addition to the group's strong support on Facebook - more than 4,000 members - Comstock promoted her experience as a former small business owner.

Lane first served on the council from 1988-92, part of the city government that oversaw the beginning of rebuilding after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake pummeled downtown. Lane, who served as mayor in 1992 and has been a longtime advocate for homeless services, returned to the council in 2008, serving as mayor since December 2011.

Mathews has one of the longest records of public service in Santa Cruz, appearing Tuesday to be headed to a fifth term on the council. Mathews serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and played a key role in getting the federal organization to build its new Exploration Center in Santa Cruz.

Noroyan has been on the political scene in Santa Cruz for some time, but mostly in the background. An aide to former Assemblymember Ida Ruskin, Noroyan also has served on the city's Transportation and Public Works Committee.

"I didn't get a lot of support until October," Noroyan said. She had hoped to gain standing among day-of voters, but the momentum didn't appear to materialize.

Posner served many years as the director of People Power, an alternative transportation group. Posner, an outspoken opponent a proposed seawater desalination plant, received some small business support and endorsements from the city's core of progressive environmentalists.

Other candidates include carpenter Jake Fusari, nonprofit executive CeCe Pinheiro and volunteer Steve Pleich. Pleich also ran in 2010. Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at


Pamela Comstock: 41, software executive

Jake Fusari: 28, carpenter

Don Lane: 56, nonprofit administrator and current mayor

Cynthia Mathews: 70, former mayor

Richelle Noroyan: 44, marketing consultant

CeCe Pinheiro: 55, nonprofit administrator

Steve Pleich: 54, activist for homeless

Micah Posner: 44, alternative transportation advocate


Don Lane 10,710

Cynthia Mathews 9,464

Pamela Comstock 8,723

Micah Posner 8,640

Richelle Noroyan 6,266

Jake Fusari 4,807

CeCe Pinheiro 4,517

Steve Pleich 2,553

36 of 36 precincts reporting


© 2008-2013 scwd2 Desalination Program, All rights reserved.