Kinsey endorses Grossi, citing open mind

09/15/2016

Supervisor Steve Kinsey said this week who will get his vote in the race to succeed him: Novato dairyman Dominic Grossi.

Mr. Grossi, who nabbed 27.2 percent of votes in the crowded June primary, is running against Olema resident and contractor Dennis Rodoni, who received 28.8 percent, for the District 4 seat. Only two people—Mr. Kinsey, of Forest Knolls, and San Geronimo Valley resident Gary Giacomini—have occupied the post for the past 44 years, and both have endorsed Mr. Grossi. 

“I think of Dominic as a more independent thinker,” Mr. Kinsey said. “He’s listening to a variety of people to make up his mind. I want to emphasize that’s the key skill set I attribute to Dominic…I watched him grow during the primary and saw a willingness to listen.”

Mr. Kinsey said he respects both candidates, believing each cares about the environment. He noted that Mr. Rodoni—who challenged Mr. Kinsey for the supervisor seat in 2004 and won the majority of coastal West Marin votes—has done admirable work through the many nonprofits he’s served on. Those include the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, where he served as the board chair during the restoration of the Giacomini Wetlands, and the Coastal Health Alliance, where he also served as board chair. 

“But we’re being asked to pick the person making policy decisions on a range of countywide issues. I’ve made my decision. Dominic is the best fit for the Fourth District,” he said.

Mr. Kinsey said he has been impressed by his work with Mr. Grossi, with whom he served on the board of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and with whom he worked on the Local Coastal Program, when Mr. Grossi was the president of the Marin County Farm Bureau. He said he admired the dairyman’s emphasis on fiscal responsibility, his sensitivity to the impacts of regulation on small businesses and his work with children through 4-H. 

He was also impressed by Mr. Grossi’s thinking on the SMART train, citing it as an example of his ability to work out solutions. Mr. Grossi supported the train, he said, but also expressed concerns about whether commuter trains would monopolize tracks to the detriment of others, like agriculturalists, who hoped to use them to transport goods. “He was a fierce advocate for a shared right-of-way,” Mr. Kinsey said.

Yet the two have not held identical views on every issue. Mr. Kinsey, for instance, supported the new state bill—which the Governor signed this week—to phase in overtime rules for farmworkers; eventually overtime pay will be required for more than eight hours of work a day or 40 hours a week, compared to old rules that peg overtime for farmworkers at 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week. Mr. Grossi told the Light he had not take a position and that he had concerns about the bill.

“This issue was a statewide matter, and neither candidate was deeply involved in the details,” Mr. Kinsey said. “Also, the concerns he listed illustrated some unique aspects of Marin’s ag industry.” 

Mr. Kinsey also expressed another hope: that the dairyman, who is in his early 40s, could serve the region for a long time. Mr. Kinsey himself has represented the area for two decades, and his predecessor, Mr. Giacomini, held the seat for 24 years. Mr. Rodoni is 64, according to his campaign website.

“I don’t want to be ageist, but as someone who has been here for many years,” Mr. Kinsey explained, “Dominic could stay for 20 years if he wanted to, if the voters supported him, and he could continue the stewardship [of the Fourth District].”

Mr. Rodoni declined to comment on the endorsement, but wrote in an email, “If the voters choose to elect me I will work hard for the next four years for all of District Four, and then let the voters decide in subsequent elections if they want me to continue. If lucky enough I will serve for many years.”

Mr. Rodoni added that part of the reason he is running is that “the thought of a former Republican/conservative on the Board of Supervisors for maybe decades is scary.”

Mr. Grossi, who is now registered as “decline to state,” responded that local elections are nonpartisan, and that he was “tired of the labels and people classifying people one way or the other. I want to work with everyone to do what’s right for Marin… I have the ability to work with everyone on both sides of the issues.”

Mr. Grossi has also received endorsements from Supervisor Judy Arnold, Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle, Novato’s and San Rafael’s chambers of commerce, and other current and former local officials. 

For his part, Mr. Rodoni has scored support from the Sierra Club, the Marin Association of Public Employees, North Bay Labor Council and elected officials, including many directors of water and utility districts in the county.

This article was corrected to reflect final election results. The Light previously cited preliminary results.