Congressman Panetta Visits Communities in the Santa Cruz Mountains
By Drew Penner
Now that the congressional boundary debate is settled – with the former 18and and 20and neighborhoods seeming to evaporate from the local map, leaving the new 19and District politicians began to adjust to the new reality.
And for current Representative Anna G. Eshoo, who has represented the region since 1993, it’s bittersweet, even though the changes won’t take effect until after the next election cycle.
“We’ve been through a lot together,” she said. “It’s personal.”
Now Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who represented the 20and District extending from Santa Cruz north to halfway to Santa Barbara, will represent the 19and, which includes Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley.
If he is re-elected, yes.
“A lot of people don’t realize it, and they think it happens automatically,” he said. “What’s confusing is that we’re going to be running for re-election in the new districts.”
So on January 8, Panetta accompanied Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart on a route through parts of the region he did not depict.
“I’ve been outside before, just in the last week, in these areas,” he said, adding that he had been lucky enough to visit the new library at Felton Branch.
Panetta said seeing the community first-hand gave her a good sense of the issues facing people in the valleys, such as homelessness, affordable housing, crime and recovering from wildfires.
In addition to speaking with Rep. Eshoo, Panetta says he’s already had the chance to speak with 5th District Supervisor Bruce McPherson, Scotts Valley Mayor Donna Lind (and four of the five city council members), local Democratic party members and business executives. , among others.
“My intention is to be the federal representative,” he said, adding that he plans to take inspiration from Eshoo to “show up, shut up and listen.”
One thing that Panetta says he continues to encounter is positive feedback from community members about Eshoo’s leadership over the years.
“I can’t stress enough the impression Rep. Eshoo has made as the federal representative for this region,” he said. “It’s really quite impressive and very inspiring.”
Eshoo says that even after the line change goes live, it will still be in the Santa Cruz County residents’ corner.
“What I want my constituents to know is that even if the number of their congressional districts changes, I will always work to help them,” she said, suggesting that a Panetta-Eshoo combo in Washington would only be good news for local voters. “So they won’t have one, they will have two (representatives).
“And I really mean it.”
After all, the unmet needs of the community don’t care what’s on the man-made maps, she muses.
“I will do what I can to bring several things to the finish line,” she pledged, referring to several projects that have been stalled in Congress, such as funding for elementary school daycare. Vine Hill in Scotts Valley. “We can build another reconciliation package if that’s what it takes to get the votes through, because the Republicans won’t, which I really don’t understand.”
These days, Eshoo says it has set its staff trying to recover money from debris removal company Anvil Builders, Inc. who scored a post lighting complex job. -CZU of a quarter billion dollars and left public roads in a mess.
“I want to solve this problem,” Eshoo said. “I wrote and called… The damage done by this private contractor is very well documented.”
Les Gardner is a Felton businessman with decades of experience in Democratic politics. He actually let Eshoo use his house as a base of operations during one of his campaigns for Congress in the 1980s.
While he will be sad to see the day Eshoo no longer represent the community, he has high hopes for Panetta.
“We were lucky they brought in Jimmy, who knows Santa Cruz County well rather than someone who doesn’t,” he said, noting that he already had a office in Santa Cruz. “He grew up in the neighborhood.
Panetta recalled competing against San Lorenzo Valley High School as a wrestler and Carmel football player – before Scotts Valley High School even existed.
“I am very happy to be, hopefully, the representative of the 19and Congressional District,” Panetta said. “I can say that I represent a lot of beauty and a lot of bounty along the Central Coast.”
Gardner helped organize Panetta’s tour through Scotts Valley and Felton, including a stop at the new library. Eshoo attended the grand opening, he noted.
“I think it’s good for him to realize places of significance and interest throughout the community,” Gardner said. “This is a wonderful establishment.”
According to him, it is important to establish a strong link with elected officials so that in the event of an emergency, they can act quickly on behalf of the community.
“We have landslides; we have fires; we have roads going out; we are losing bridges,” Gardner said. “We’re very different from a lot of other areas he’s going to represent, like South San Jose, etc.”
Eshoo says he will miss working on behalf of local voters, even if it doesn’t happen right away.
“I feel like someone is squeezing my heart,” she said. “The upside is that the change won’t happen for at least a year.”