CA: Farm Bureau bummed as Proposition 40 passes

Simon wins shot at being governor

By ALI BAY, Capital Press

SACRAMENTO, CA - 3/11/02 - California voters have approved a measure giving nearly $3 billion to the creation of new parks and open space. Proposition 40, which passed with 56 percent of the vote Mar. 5, was opposed by a handful of agricultural groups, including the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“That was a disappointment,” said George Gomes, Farm Bureau spokesman. “Prop 40 provides an opportunity for the state to buy more land when the state hasn’t done a good job at managing the lands it owns now.”

Gomes said the measure could effectively take farmland out of production under the disguise of creating new parks and protecting water quality.

“Typically they want to buy more agland,” Gomes said. “That will take land out of production, which means costing jobs. And if they don’t buy the agland, they wind up providing some habitat areas that affect a farmer’s ability to work the adjacent land.”

Proposition 40, labeled the Clean Water/Air, Safe Park and Coast Protection Act, requires the state to set aside more parks and open space. Bonds would fund the measure.

The primary election also brought another disappointment for the Farm Bureau in the defeat of Secretary of State Bill Jones in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Instead of seeing a farmer run against Gov. Gray Davis this November, Los Angeles businessman Bill Simon will have an opportunity to unseat the incumbent.

In a surprising victory at the polls, Simon came from behind to soundly defeat Jones and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordin.

Gomes said he was surprised that Jones didn’t earn more votes in the election. But he said the secretary of state has always been more focused on doing his job than looking for personal gain.

“He’s just been a dedicated public servant,” Gomes said.

“This also just goes to show that you have to have a lot of money to win elections.”


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