MENDOCINO Co., 2/3/2017 -- Rumors are swirling about just what former third district supervisor John Pinches will do in if appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to fill the vacant supervisorial seat. Last week Pinches told The Mendocino Voice that he would not rule out running for supervisor in 2018, while this week a story ran in the Ukiah Daily Journal claiming that he said he would definitely not run. It is not clear who wrote the article, nor is it clear exactly what kind of conversation they had with Pinches. It’s therefore unclear if Pinches has changed his tune, or if something else is going on.
The UDJ article quotes Pinches sparsely, and does not contain a specific quote repudiating his statements made in, and to, this paper. Instead that simply says that he has no plans to run, and adds that "rumors began swirling" that he would.
What he told us last week was definitively not a rumor, they were his words. In an interview conducted by this reporter a few hours after the end of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting, at which the board endorsed Pinches for the seat, Pinches initially hedged saying things like, “It’s hard to rule things out,” and “that’s a long ways down the road.”
Though when first asked about his plans for the future he said, “I’m not planning on it, I was on the board for 12 years and I retired.” He soon thereafter noted that his health is much improved, saying, “I seem to be a lot better physically.” Queried further he said, “Beyond that it would have to do a lot with my health.”
Finally asked point blank whether he would run again, Pinches replied, “I’m not really planning on it, but I would not totally rule it out.”
Pinches then asked this reporter what the reporter would be doing in two years, as a way of pointing out that many things can change in two years. This reporter was likewise uncertain.
In the article The Mendocino Voice ran last week we did not include all of these quotes, because they were redundant. This is common practice in news writing, where a lengthy interview will often have to be condensed into an 800 word article.
Given that there is a now a public statement that contradicts our own reporting we felt it prudent to publish the remaining piece of conversation. Though the subject of whether he would run again was dwelt on for on a minute or two, it is certain that he would not rule out the possibility of seeking the seat again in 2018, as the quotes above demonstrate.
This entire fiasco in which applicants to the seat try to telegraph their intentions without ever being definitively clear has emerged from the highly opaque selection process employed by the governor’s office. Though the governor's office has never publicly said so, among the political class of Mendocino, it is widely believed that the governor will favor an applicant who would not run in 2018. This is because of a common notion that the governor would prefer not to put his thumb on the scale in the next election, given the tremendous advantage enjoyed by incumbents in such races.
Indeed Supervisor Dan Gjerde said as much during the discussion over whether to endorse Pinches, “I assume he is not interested in running, so that means he would be focused on doing the job, which I think would be an advantage, both for the county and the Third District…it would create sort of an open field for those who do want to run, where no one person would have the advantage…of the incumbency.”
Given these beliefs it is not surprising that this question would become contested. But The Mendocino Voice remains firm behind our statements that, in an interview, John Pinches would not rule out running. As of the time of publication, Pinches could not be reached for comment.
*This article has been updated slightly to clarify the sequence of events.
Adrian Fernandez Baumann, [email protected]