In The News

Letter: Follow the money in political races

Napa Valley Register | April 21, 2022

I hope the voters are paying attention to who is funding the various campaigns in the upcoming election and how much money is coming from whom not just in the supervisor’s race, but in the sheriff’s race, as well. As we’ve seen with Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza’s alleged self-dealing and the ongoing investigation by the FPPC, this matters.

Despite overwhelming evidence, some of Pedroza’s major campaign donors–Chuck Wagner & Family, Darryl Sattui, the Chappellets, Altamura Enterprises, etc., have come out in full force with paid political ads and an organized campaign to discredit the citizens who initiated the investigation. With no concern at all regarding the ethics of Pedroza’s actions, the lack of transparency, and threat to democracy,

Clearly, their main concern is protecting their biggest asset on the Board of Supervisors, Alfredo Pedroza. And now this same cabal of wealthy individuals, along with Craig and Kathryn Hall, are flexing their financial muscle in the Sheriff’s race by making substantial campaign contributions to Pedroza’s pal, Oscar Ortiz. Chuck Wagner and family, alone, have contributed $9,800, while Craig & Kathryn Hall, the Chappellets, and George Altamura have each donated $2,500.
You’d be right to wonder, what the heck is going on in the sheriff’s race? When and how did this become so political? And what does Ortiz have to offer this wealthy cabal?

When former Sheriff John Robertson announced his retirement last May, Jon Crawford, who had been serving as undersheriff for three years was the logical replacement. Instead, Crawford was passed over and Ortiz, one of Crawford’s underlings, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors, instead.  (Even this action ignored precedent as neither candidate was ever interviewed by the Board. Why the rush?) Subsequently, when Jon Crawford announced he was going to run for sheriff in the upcoming election, he was inexplicably fired. Crawford filed an administrative appeal which was subsequently settled in his favor very quietly by the county at a cost of $500,000.

Given the list of names intent on keeping Pedroza’s pal, Oscar Ortiz, as sheriff, one has to wonder what role Supervisor Pedroza, who was board chair at the time, played in a debacle that not only cost the taxpayers $500,000, it gave us a sheriff in the interim who has nowhere near the experience that Jon Crawford has.
What is clear is that Napa County is being run by an oligarchy — a small group of extremely wealthy people who have used their money to establish undue influence over our elected officials to the detriment of the needs and concerns of their actual constituents.

Yet the voters in Napa County have an opportunity in this next election to say, ”Enough is enough.” Enough of the oligarchy and the backroom deals. Enough of the network of good old boys (and girls) operating behind the scenes and making a mockery of our democracy. And enough of the pay-to-play culture to which some of our elected officials have become a party.

We can start at the ballot box by rejecting their choice for sheriff and voting instead for Jon Crawford, who has worked in local law enforcement for 24 years and has risen through the ranks on his own merit.

Jon Crawford’s experience matters. As the undersheriff (i.e., operations administrator) at the Sheriff’s Department for three years, Crawford has managed 140 employees and a $40 million budget. Also, as undersheriff, Crawford instituted the innovative plan, now in effect, for mandatory evacuations during wildfires. That there was no loss of life during the devastating Glass Fire is a testament to Crawford’s skill and expertise. But more importantly, Jon Crawford is not beholden to the existing power cabal.

Jon is from Napa Valley, has lived and worked here most of his life, is raising his family here, contributes to our community. He is experienced, educated, articulate, mature, stable and a leader with integrity. Jon knows right from wrong and will always do the right thing. He is committed to restoring trust and transparency to our County’s leadership.

The events of the last few months have shown that Napa County is due for a regime change. Please vote for Jon Crawford as sheriff for Napa County.

Lisa Seran


View Original Publication: Napa Valley Register