Photo by Joe Livernois
By Royal Calkins
Former Monterey City Council Member Timothy Barrett, a candidate for mayor on the November ballot, has been incorrectly declaring on his website that he still sits on the council. Barrett was elected to the council in 2014 but he lost his re-election bid four years later.
Until Friday, when the misinformation was pointed out to him, Barrett’s mayoral campaign website said he was vice mayor and the City Council’s voting representative to the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and Monterey One Water, among other bodies. Not so.
Under Experience, he wrote that he was “Vice Mayor — Policy Maker at the City of Monterey. Dates Employed 2014 –- Present”
It’s a good bet that the web page was recycled from Barrett’s unsuccessful 2018 re-election campaign. It may have been accurate then. But at the top, in colored print, the page was clearly labeled “Timothy Barrett Monterey Mayor 2020.”
When I called Barrett, he initially denied there was anything wrong with his website. He has in the past described himself as a computer expert and website builder. When I started reading from the site, he said there must have been a mistake and that he would look into it.
“Maybe it’s from the last campaign,” he offered.Other questions were put forth but Barrett said he felt no point in answering them considering critical coverage he has received in the past from this writer.
(Full disclosure: I paid Barrett to build a website before his council run in 2014 but he wasn’t able to complete any work on the project. I also wrote previously about a court case involving Barrett and a report he issued four years ago greatly exaggerating the amount of sales taxes generated by Fisherman’s Wharf.)
Barrett has chosen a tough task taking on popular six-term Mayor Clyde Roberson, who has spent decades in city service attempting to balance progressivism and commerce, a difficult task.
Roberson has lost a fair amount of his support from the left in recent years with some of it sliding into the Barrett camp though few there knew much about him or city government.
In the early days of this campaign season, Barrett was almost invisible on the campaign trail but he has stepped things up in the last couple of weeks with ads and flyers accusing Roberson of mishandling the city’s budget, leading to a large deficit even before the pandemic is taken into account.
Barrett clearly received new momentum after picking up the endorsement of the Monterey Bay Democratic Central Committee, which had previously supported Roberson in numerous elections. Roberson has been an active Democrat for 50 years but Barrett is a delegate to the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee, which makes the endorsement.
Curiously, despite all his increased campaigning, Barrett had not yet reported receiving any significant campaign contributions or making any campaign expenditures as of Oct. 2. Partly just speculation here, but I’d expect his next campaign report at the end of the month to show contributions from the hospitality industry and Cal Am supporters. Though he ran for council as a serious progressive in 2014, he later cozied up to restaurateurs and others trying to cut the amount they pay to lease space on the city-owned wharf.
Initially in his council career, Barrett had an alliance with leading local progressive and council colleague Alan Haffa, a former head of the Monterey County Democratic Party, but they drifted far apart over Barrett’s four-year term. Among other things, Barrett had become almost like a spokesman for tenants of city-owned property, some of which have been leased out at deeply discounted rates for decades. Haffa’s view was that the taxpayers should stop subsidizing the businesses.
Haffa was asked this week why he is endorsing Roberson over former ally Barrett. He wouldn’t address the Barrett half of the question.
“I am endorsing Clyde because he works with the community, neighbors, council and staff in a collaborative way,” Haffa said. “Our council is making progress and Clyde’s leadership has been instrumental in helping stakeholders find common ground while making progress on issues like affordable housing, campaign finance, environmental protection, and fiscal stability. Clyde embodies the ‘Monterey Way,’ and when I compare Monterey to some other cities where there is a lot of division and discontent,; I want to ensure we continue to have a culture of cooperation and mutual respect on our council.”
Roberson declined to comment on Barrett’s campaign. The incumbent reported at the end of September that he had raised $6,900 for this campaign, mostly from neighborhood interests and supporters of a public takeover of the Cal Am water system.
Barrett’s resume says he has held several positions in teaching and technology. It describes him now as a retired teacher, which also describes Roberson.
Also in Monterey, incumbent councilmen Alan Haffa and Dan Albert Jr. are facing challenges from businesswoman Zoe Carter, high school teacher Hunter Garrison, and environmental committee treasurer Gabriela Chavez.
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