The Case for YES on Measure G

If you haven’t voted, yet, we certainly hope you will. This may be the most important election in your lifetime, starting at the top of the ticket all the way down to the bottom.  In terms of the St. Helena election, we have already made our endorsements very clear:

    • Geoff Ellsworth for Mayor
    • Leslie Stanton for City Council
    • David Knudsen for City Council

But there’s one more item on the ballot we haven’t really talked about yet. Measure G.  Krys Smith makes the best case we have seen, yet, in favor of Measure G, a ballot measure we fully endorse. This is reprinted from the St. Helena Star;

The misinformation being spread that a hotel on Adams Street will ‘save” St. Helena is a disgraceful disservice to the people of this city being asked to weigh in on selling our own public land to a private developer.

This [Measure G] is not an anti-hotel opinion. In fact many of us opposed to selling the Adams Street public land to a private developer, are in favor of the Farmstead and Krug hotels on Highway 29. They are both long-time local businesses that have invested in St. Helena for decades, and are on their own land.

“The Adams story has a breadcrumb trail of big money trying to use scare tactics to get our community confused enough to sell off our incredible public assets to a luxury resort chain.”

The SHAPE Committee did not recommend selling Adams Street (read the final report on the city website).
The Financial Task Force did not recommend selling Adams Street (read the final report on the city website).
All city council meetings to date have had a large majority of residents against selling Adams Street (see all meetings on the city website – go back and count – we did).
Over 500 people recently signed a petition to stop just three people on the city council from having the power to sell Adams Street without public vote.
This information was taken directly from the Task Force Final Report on the city website: Here’s what it would take to get to the revenue they say an Adams Street Hotel will bring to St. Helena:
    • Fill 56 rooms at $1,200/night all 365 days (rainy winter months, fire months, Covid, etc.);
    • Each room must spend $900 every day all 365 days within the resort;
    • Each room must spend an additional $400 every day for 365 days within St. Helena city limits;

This does not include any money spent outside, at most Napa winery visits like Hall, Freemark Abbey, Duckhorn, Far Niente, Cakebread, etc. and wine purchases, dinner at Press, Auberge, Limos, etc.

The hotel does not pay St. Helena until the full development plan and the full Environmental Impact Report is complete and approved by both the Planning Commission and City Council. That could take years, or they could stall building it like the Four Seasons in Calistoga, and the city would not get paid for the land. Did you know that?

St. Helenans, it’s more important than ever to do the reading and not rely on hearsay – even when the hearsay sounds legitimate. The power spreaders are very effective at altering the truth. After all, they have a lot of money at stake.

“Yes on Measure G puts a hold on hotel development only on Adams Street for only 20 years. With two other local hotel projects on their land, endless devastating fires, COVID and climate change altering our lives, we can wait just 20 years, evaluate the new hotels, and let the next generation weigh into their future too.”

Krys Smith

Leslie Stanton Understands the Meaning of Service

Several weeks ago I was on my way to meet Leslie Stanton for a walk along the river trail when two little girls and their mom came whizzing toward me on their bicycles. As they passed, I heard one of the little girls say to their mom, “Did you see Leslie?”  “That was Leslie from the library!”

When I met up with Leslie, just 30 feet or so ahead, I told her what I had heard. She looked back toward the direction the young family had gone and said, “See? Those are the people I want to represent on the City Council.”

Leslie Stanton, inspiring young readers at the St. Helena Public Library.

After spending 34 years fostering imagination and a love of reading among the young people in our community, Leslie Stanton retired from the public library last June. But she’s not done, yet. She not only continues to volunteer at the library, she also hopes to win a seat on the St. Helena City Council this November.

“I want to continue serving the people of St. Helena,” she says, “and help to make sure it remains a residential town and not over-developed for visitation. I’d also like to see our local-serving businesses prosper, as well.”

Leslie Stanton as a young mom, walking with her son John in the one of the family family vineyards on Dowdell Lane.

Leslie’s family has farmed grapes in St. Helena since the late 1940’s and still does. As a teenager she roamed along the banks of the Napa River (and in the riverbed when it was dry) and helped in her family’s vineyard. She graduated from St. Helena High School in 1972, went off to college to study viticulture at UC Davis, and came back to St. Helena after graduating to raise  her family in her hometown.

Through her work at the library, Leslie may very well know this community, from its youngest members to its oldest (and most of the newcomers, as well) and their concerns better than anyone else currently running for a seat on the city council. And when it comes time to make a decision that might impact your life or the community we all love so much, she’ll already have a pretty good idea of what will serve the community best.

Leslie Stanton enjoying some quality time with her grandson, Anthony.

St. Helena is going through a period of transition and we need a city council composed of people with integrity who understand the needs of the people who live here and will put the community first. We need people who see St. Helena as more than a troubled cash cow, who see the bigger picture beyond our city’s boundaries, who are well-versed in the issues surrounding water security and equity, and who are willing to actively explore creative solutions on behalf of the residents, rather than simply waiting for “solutions” to drop in their laps, “solutions” which often come with one thought in mind: “How can we make the most money, here?” We need city council members like Leslie Stanton, someone who is smart and a lifelong learner, someone who listens and cares, someone with compassion, integrity, a sense of humor and the institutional memory so often lacking here.

No one is suggesting St. Helena stand still in time. But if we are to continue to move forward and thrive while maintaining the home-town values cherished by old-timers and newcomers alike, and if we want to create a warm and welcoming experience for those who choose to visit, we must not lose sight of the people who already call St. Helena “home” and who cherish it for the unique small town that it is.

And so I urge you to vote for Leslie Stanton, David Knudsen and Mayor Geoff Ellsworth so we have a city council that is in tune with the people who live here, a city council that will listen to our concerns, and one that will make honest, well-informed decisions in the best interest of everyone who lives here and not just the barbarians at the gate.

— Elaine de Man

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what a few members of the community have to say:

Opinion – The Hometown Team Bats the Former Mayor Out of the Ball Park

It seems our former mayor, Alan Galbraith, is still smarting from losing the election in 2018 to Geoff Ellsworth and he’s pulling out all the stops, including supporting both of Ellsworth’s opponents in this year’s race with campaign contributions to both.

After seeing a letter I had written to the St. Helena Star regarding water security and which ultimately endorsed Mayor Geoff Ellsworth as the only candidate in this year’s race who was addressing some of these larger issues, Galbraith emailed me (twice!) and challenged me to defend my comments. When I didn’t respond to the first one, he emailed again. Other than the inappropriateness of these emails (and wondering how he got my email address…..other than from official correspondence I may have sent when he was mayor), what is really annoying is that I had attempted on several occasions to discuss water security issues with him when he was mayor. His response then was to blow me off with a condescending smile and broad, dismissive statements such as, “Oh, we have plenty of water.” (LAFCO has since reported otherwise.)

He might as well have said, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that, little lady.” (Ok, I took liberties with the “pretty” part.)

But this? This really is beyond the pale.

In a letter to the editor published in the St. Helena Star, Galbraith wrote, “My plea: As we move into the forthcoming municipal election, please evaluate candidates based on their qualifications, the inclusivity of their message (we are all in this together), and not on vacuous utterances rooted in purported “home town” superiority.”

First of all, it is worth noting that one of the candidates Galbraith endorsed for city council, seemed to cringe at receiving Galbraith’s endorsement. He asked the editor of the St. Helena Star to include the following with Galbraith’s endorsement letter: “Sadly, the most troubling thing for me about Alan’s endorsement is this: his time as mayor seems emblematic of the division and discord that continue to trouble us.” Indeed.

“Sadly, the most troubling thing for me about Alan’s endorsement is this: his time as mayor seems emblematic of the division and discord that continue to trouble us.”

In my mind it takes a special kind of bitterness to try to turn a message of inclusivity, one that was meant to let the people in this community know that they would be heard (those who often were ignored or dismissed by our former mayor—including other city council members) in to “home town superiority.” (Where have we heard that nasty twist of messaging before?)

There are many reasons Galbraith lost the election in 2018 and I must say a breath of fresh air filled the council chambers once Galbraith handed the gavel to Mayor Geoff Ellsworth. Meaningful conversations between the council members became more productive, instructive, and inclusive rather than dictatorial. Procedures and protocol were followed in an orderly manner without the chaos that sometimes ensued when Galbraith attempted to suppress meaningful debate or simply lost track of what was going on.

Now it appears Galbraith is trying to turn the clock back by endorsing his former Vice Mayor, Peter White, for Mayor, and (in addition to the candidate who rejected his endorsement) a relative newcomer to town for city council……citing it was because he was a “business man.” (I remember people liking George W. Bush and Trump for the same reasons. We all know how that turned out.)

But the more likely reason Galbraith endorsed this other candidate is further petty revenge, as this candidate is married to the owner of the Clover Flat Landfill who was miffed when Mayor Ellsworth questioned the safety of the landfill in its current location and made her objections to the mayor’s concerns quite public. (Indeed, fire swept through the landfill during the Glass Fire.)

I think the most troubling part about the former mayor’s quest for revenge and relevance is that it could end up doing further damage to the care, thoughtfulness, and inclusivity Mayor Ellsworth has sought to build these past two years. It also attempts to discredit Leslie Stanton, the other member of the “Hometown Team” who is a long-standing and respected member of the community. What exactly is wrong with having someone on the city council who, after serving St. Helena for the last 30-some years as the children’s librarian, wants to continue to serve to ensure that the often-forgotten voices of the families who call this their home are heard?

Leslie Stanton would be a wonderful addition to the St. Helena City Council and would serve with compassion, integrity, and a solid institutional memory. (Does anyone else know where the well is that the city dug on Adams Street years ago? Can anyone else claim they had their first kiss at the York Creek Dam? Did any of the other candidates play in the Napa River and work in the family’s vineyards as a child?)

So, let’s not go backward, but keep moving forward with a mayor who listens to all of his constituents and a council member, Leslie Stanton, who is intelligent, harbors a thirst for knowledge, and understands the needs of the families that live here and the long-time family vintners, who have worked the land here for generations, and welcomes newcomers with open arms.

To hold elected office is to serve…….and to serve ALL stakeholders. Mayor Geoff Ellsworth and Leslie Stanton truly understand this.

I have no problems at all with the Hometown Team.

— Elaine de Man

As Napa Valley Burns

Everyone who lives in St. Helena and beyond has their own harrowing and often heart-breaking story. Some narrowly escaped with their lives. Others are coming home to the burnt remains of a life that once was.

But as the hillsides burned all around us this past week and we faced a future of uncertainty, Leslie Stanton, our beloved (retired) children’s librarian, offered these words of hope and resilience to our community, its families, and its children.

These are the hometown values we cherish. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.