El Dorado voters embrace slow-growth message

06/04/2014 5:22 PM

06/04/2014 5:23 PM

The two candidates who will face off in November in El Dorado County’s closely watched District 4 supervisorial race both promise to preserve the county’s rustic flavor. Otherwise, the two survivors of Tuesday’s primary election offer stark contrasts for voters in a district whose politics simmer over growth and development issues.

Howard Penn, who topped the field of eight candidates with nearly 22 percent of the vote, pledged “to preserve, promote and protect our quality of life.” And he underscored his promise to fight traffic-congesting subdivision projects with campaign billboards that screamed, “End Developer Influence.”

In the district that spans the eastern border of El Dorado Hills to the high Sierra, Penn was a leading slow-growth candidate in a region where the county general plan anticipates 21,000 new houses will be built.

Michael Ranalli, who finished second with 21.5 percent of the vote, also proclaimed he would “protect our rural lifestyle.” He argued that the county shouldn’t approve new subdivisions that exceed local water resources and traffic capacity.

But Ranalli otherwise attacked what he considered an anti-business climate in the county. He promised to cut government regulations and “defend property owner rights,” while promoting a diverse local economy, including housing and new local businesses paying enough so that residents can afford homes in the county.

Ranalli, a former Intel executive, Lotus wine grape grower and vice chairman of a county economic development advisory committee, picked up endorsements from conservative groups, including the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County. He also received financial support from ranching, tourism and real estate interests.

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