Bob Huff and The Parable of Someone Else’s Car

Banner - HuffThis is a short article that is a little bit about Senator Bob Huff, but mostly not.

I don’t write about every legislator but had been thinking about the soon-to-depart members who will be leaving office in the next few weeks. This evening, I saw a note on Facebook by a friend who thanked his boss, Senator Bob Huff “for a great experience.”

It got me thinking about my observations and handful of conversations with Senator Huff and the lessons that might be learned from his service in the legislature. The basic points of his service were actually pretty standard;

  • Like a lot of term limits-era legislators, he came from local government (serving on a City Council for a decade before arriving in the Assembly);
  • He served in both houses (which is a little more rare) and served 12 years between the two houses (which pretty standard for two-house members).

What made him stand out to me was the way he served. Let’s call this The Parable of Someone Else’s Car.

Term limits (specifically the restricted terms they offer legislators) can tell you a lot about people; how they treat other people’s things. Some politicians treat their elected offices like rental cars. From the way they interact with constituents and treat their staff to the seriousness with which they cast their votes, they clearly communicate “Hey, I’m not keeping this thing forever. It’s a rental! It’s just getting me from Point A to Point B.”

From my observations, that wasn’t Bob Huff. He treated his seat in the legislature like it was his father’s car. For all the downsides we got from the constant churning of legislators that term limits brought, the single best thing we received was the occasional legislator who understood that the seat they held was never really theirs and that someone else would occupy it in eight or fewer years.

Bob Huff didn’t rev the engine to show everyone how cool he was and he generally signalled when he was about to change lanes. He remained appreciative of the gift of public service that his neighbors had given him, he enjoyed the ride, and he returned it with a full tank of gas for whoever would be using it next.

He’s not out of the woods yet; there are always ample opportunities for former legislators to damage their reputations (just ask Assembly Speaker Yule). But as he leaves the Legislature… I think he can be proud of his accomplishments and the fact that he didn’t add any new dents or scratches to the 29th.

My 54 Hours As a Candidate

For more than a decade, I’ve enjoyed being an observer of California politics, reading history books and interviewing legislators. During that time, I never thought I’d run for political office.

For me, it was hard enough to watch brutal elections where candidates gambled everything; missing anniversary dinners, kids birthdays, and even mortgaging their houses to fill campaign accounts.

Screenshot 2016-08-16 at 9.38.25 AMOn Monday, August 15th, I crossed over the line and became a candidate for a little over two days. This is the story of my 53 hours and 56 minute campaign.

Last week, a neighbor mentioned that by the close of the nomination period on August 12th, no candidates had filed to run for the board of our local recreation and park district. Like many special districts in California, the Arcade Creek Park and Recreation District is governed by a five-member elected board. The board is elected to four-year terms, with roughly half being elected every two years.

This year, three of the five seats were up for election and for a variety of reasons, the three incumbents had decided not to run for reelection. Because of this, the nomination period (when a candidate can file the paperwork to run) was extended until August 17th.

I’ve always been a fan of our local parks, and the board has been doing a lot of good work (modernizing playgrounds, increasing security patrols, and preparing to build a bridge that will finally provide a safe way to access the nature trail from the local community college). After some thought, I decided to run.

On Monday morning, my daughter and I drove down to the Sacramento County elections office where I was able to complete my paperwork in just a few minutes. I turned in my paperwork, took an oath of office (without reservation or purpose of evasion) and was out the door by 11:04 am. I was a candidate!

That evening, I checked the list of Qualified Candidates on the Sacramento County website. The time stamp on the PDF showed that as of 3:45:02PM on August 15th, I was the only name listed.

The next night, I wondered if I should check in again. It seemed that it might be excessive to check in on the candidate filing status daily. Then again, when your campaign is likely to only last 54 hours, checking in every 24 is probably the least you can do. Following the link again on Tuesday, I found that I remained the only candidate listed for the three seats.

The dawn brought Wednesday, the final day of my hard-fought campaign. At five in the afternoon, as I drove home from work in light traffic, the extended filing period ended at and (I was still the only one candidate on the ballot) I was declared elected.

My 54 hours as a candidate had ended.

Vote Lead Changes

Congressional District 12
On June 21st, fifteen days after the Primary, Preston Picus pulled ahead of Bob Miller to face Nancy Pelosi in CD-12. On election night, with 100% of precincts reporting, Miller led Picus by 1,351 votes. A week later, on June 14th, that lead had slimmed to 472 votes. By that Friday, June 17th, Miller led Picus by mere 46 votes. As of June 21st, Pincus is ahead by 35 votes.

Congressional District 53
On June 14th, eight days after the Primary, James Veltmeyer finally gained a lead over Jim Ash in CD-53 by 126 votes. On election night, with 100% of precincts reporting, Ash led Veltmeyer by 127 votes. On June 10th, Veltmeyer trailed Ash by 126 votes. This grew to 143 votes by June 11th. As of June 14th, Veltmeyer leads by 296 votes. As of June 16th, Veltmeyer leads by 563 votes.

Congressional District 46
On June 13th, seven days after the Primary, Bao Nguyen pulled ahead of Bob Peterson, who had held the second-place position since election night. On election night, Peterson led Nguyen by 456 votes. On June 10th, Peterson’s lead had grown to 499. By June 11th, the lead had slimmed to 236. As of June 14th, Nguyen leads by 867 votes. As of June 15th, Nguyen leads by 1,096 votes.

Assembly District 68
On June 13th, seven days after the Primary, Steven S. Choi pulled ahead of Harry Sidhu in AD-68. On June 10th, Choi trailed Sidhu by 529. This grew to 608 on the 11th. As of June 14th, Choi leads by 49 votes. As of June 15th, Choi is ahead by 71 votes. As of June 15th, Choi is ahead by 150 votes.


JoinCalifornia has been updated to reflect these lead changes. As a reminder, during the 2010 Primary Election, Vargas took the lead 18 days after the election. In the 2012 General Election, Bill Berryhill led Cathleen Galgiani in the vote count for 15 days after the election, while Ron Smith led Steve Fox in the vote count for 27 days, only falling behind and eventually losing on December 2nd. After the 1980 General Election, Assemblyman Adrian C. Fondse led for 63 days (including a month of service in the Assembly), before the Assembly voted to accept a final vote count that put Patrick Johnston ahead.