As Joe Williams surveyed the congressional race for District 20, he kept waiting for a proven local liberal like Assemblymember Bill Monning (D-Carmel), Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) or Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) to jump in.
But Williams, a hospital lab technician, says they were all scared off by Jimmy Panetta, the son of political heavyweight Leon Panetta, who racked up endorsements quickly after current Congressmember Sam Farr (D-Carmel) announced his retirement.
“He walked in as a fait accompli,” Williams says. “That’s not democracy to me.”
Three years ago, the Monterey Herald wrote a story about Leon Panetta campaigning for Sam Farr in exchange for the lawmaker’s endorsement of his son. Farr officially endorsed Jimmy Panetta last week.
Now that he’s running, Williams has been slamming local media, GT included, for covering the District 20 election as a two-person race between Panetta and Republican Casey Lucius.
Williams, Panetta and Lucius are joined on the ballot by Jack Digby, a Capitola ironworker, and Jay Blas Cabrera, who has run for Santa Cruz City Council in the past. Other candidates include Barbara Honegger, a 9/11 truther based in Carmel Valley, who ran against Farr in 1993, and Benjamin Joseph Julius Strickland, who did not submit any contact information and doesn’t appear to have a web presence.
Williams’ campaign is motivated by his work in unions and by Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign. Unlike Lucius and Panetta (both of them military veterans), Williams would like to halt wars overseas. He plans to leverage social media to galvanize support, encouraging followers to pen letters to the editor for local newspapers. His goal is to come in second to Panetta in the June 7 primary and get a head-to-head race with him in November, raising important issues along the way.
“I’ve done it before. I’m not scared of these people,” Williams says. “I’m not scared by money and names and military uniforms and all that. It’s like, let’s do it. Here I am. For the next 80-odd days until the election. Let’s see what I can do.”