Friday, 19 April 2024

Comstock wins District 1 seat over La Faver

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Jim Comstock of Middletown will be the new District 1 supervisor. Courtesy photo.
 

 

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.

 

SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – After trailing Susanne La Faver by less than a dozen votes in the June primary, James Comstock came through on Tuesday with a decisive victory to claim the District 1 supervisorial seat.


Comstock received 2,369 votes, or 53.1 percent of the vote, to the 2,096 votes – amounting to 46.9 percent – for La Faver.

 

La Faver issued a statement Wednesday congratulating Comstock on his win.


“I wish to express my most grateful thanks to my wonderful supporters and volunteers for all your effort, time and contributions,” she said. “I sincerely appreciate your encouragement and your passion for the well-being of District 1 and Lake County. We must remain involved and help keep Lake County the wonderful place we are proud to call home.”

 

In June, La Faver had received 811 votes to the 800 received by Comstock. They had topped a field of six candidates, and La Faver and Comstock set out over the next several months to pick up the votes that had been split between the four other candidates in the primary.


Comstock, who was reached early Wednesday morning after just receiving the final vote tally, said he attributed his win to his efforts to meet with south county residents and listen to their needs, wants and desires.


His campaign, he said, was about improving the south county's economic situation and providing opportunities for the community's young people, tasks which he acknowledges won't be easy but which he is committed to pursuing.


“This is about serving,” he said. “This isn't about me winning.”


Comstock will succeed Supervisor Ed Robey, who is retiring at the end of this year after three terms on the board.


The two men are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, with Robey – currently serving as board chair – known for more liberal stances while Comstock is a conservative who believes in less government, not more.


As a result, Comstock's election will represent a major shift in the board and its approach to a variety of issues.


Case in point: On Tuesday, the board was set to hold a second reading on an ordinance to ban genetically engineered crops, which had initially been approved on a 3-2 vote Oct. 21.


Comstock, whose family has a 1,700-acre ranch outside of Middletown, has been an opponent of the ban, which Robey authored and took to the board.


While Comstock looked on from the gallery Tuesday, the board's three-hour discussion of the ordinance and some proposed modifications resulted in the matter being continued to Nov. 18, when a revised ordinance and more information about the formation of an advisory committee will be presented.


Comstock said the matter has been rushed through, and said he expects there will be an attempt to get a revised version passed by the board before Robey's term ends.


The GE ban will be one of the first orders of business for Comstock once he's sworn in this coming January. He said he wants to see the issue resolved in an equitable manner.


Comstock added, however, that if the board were to accept a revised version of the ban that he would work to overturn it.


“I firmly believe that this should be worked out without government intervention if possible,” he said.


That includes relying on local experts and an advisory committee to explore the matter further. “I believe the cart was put in front of the horse here,” he said, adding that the process has been “skewed.”


He's also not a supporter of rent control, and the board on Tuesday also discussed a rent stability agreement that has been in the works for years.


Comstock said if landlords can't raise rents they don't improve their property. However, he said he supports the agreement's voluntary approach.


During the election Comstock walked all of the south county's mobile home parks, and found some of them to be “an absolute disaster” and “an embarrassment.”


“Code enforcement needs to be in there now,” he said, recalling when many of those parks were resorts more than 40 years ago.


Comstock portrayed himself as the candidate for change in the south county. “I firmly believe that District 1 has been underrepresented.”


In the final weeks of the campaign, questions were consistently raised about Comstock's relationships with pro-development forces in the south county, which he said was a manipulation by Robey and others opposed to his campaign.


Comstock had received a $10,000 campaign donation from the Luchetti family, who bought their ranch from Comstock's father decades before. “They have no intention to developer their property, just as we have no intention to develop ours,” said Comstock.


He added that if he were a developer, he would have developed his land before now – such as during the time when his family was struggling to pay off the crushing inheritance tax that hit them in the wake of his father's death 30 years ago.


“I don't live the rural lifestyle, every day, wanting to see us paved over and looking on San Jose,” he said.


Comstock said he likes to see cows grazing on the land, but believes property owners have rights, which includes development.


As he gets ready to take his seat in January, Comstock will step down from his seat on the Middletown Unified School District Board of Trustees, which he has held for nearly two decades. He'll also be getting extra help on the ranch and working to maintain his current clients in his financial services business, but will no longer be expanding his efforts.


“I ran for this to serve the people of District 1 and the county and that's what I plan on doing,” he said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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