The event billed as " lived up to its name with a who’s who of county politicians and business leaders, and a rousing stump speech by McGuire himself -– who’s not even running for re-election until 2014.
McGuire, the 31-year old former student body president, city councilman, mayor and now Sonoma County Supervisor, was clearly the most popular person in the room. The event was held in the lobby of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts main theater.
Food, beer, wine and other refreshments were available, and a string ensemble from Windsor High, Quartetto Ragazzi, played to provide a civilized context for the event.
was largely a party to celebrate McGuire’s election to the open Sonoma County Supervisor Fourth District seat, following a hard-fought election context with Windsor Mayor Deborah Fudge. But Fudge herself was relaxed and happy in the crowd last night -- as were all five of the county supervisors, at one time or another.
As his supporters gathered donations at the door from the 400-plus attendees, information tables from many local education foundations helped spread the word on the difficult times schools and their programs are facing today.
Gretchen Crebs of the Geyserville Education Foundation admitted she had not been at last year’s event, but noted the slight change in focus this year.
“With all the cuts to education in budgeting this year, Mike decided to turn it into an education event, and invited all the education foundations to take part to raise awareness,” Crebs said.
But it wasn’t just about education, it was also about politics. And more than about politics, it was about McGuire. Everyone seemed to be willing to echo Healdsburg doctor Brad Drexler, a long-time supporter, who said simply “I like Mike. Everybody benefits from his energy.”
“He’s a consensus-builder,” Drexler added. “He’s educated but open-minded on the issues, and is always bringing together people involved in issues to help find a solution.”
Pam Drexler has been McGuire’s campaign treasurer in years past, a role which has now passed to Barbara Grasseschi.
“He does a lot of town hall meetings and voter forums,” said Grasseschi amid the babble of voices awaiting McGuire’s own appearance. “The thing about Mike, the thing he does is bring people together.
"The reason he does that is he’s the type of person who takes a lot of feedback from people from diverse backgrounds," she added. "Get everyone at the table, we’re all in it together is his method.”
Brad Drexler agreed.
"Get various groups together to work on a solution that everyone will be happy with,” Drexler added. “He’s really good at listening. And he’s a hard worker.”
McGuire’s high energy was a key point in the introductions from the other two superivosrs in the room, David Rabbitt and new Board of Supervisors Chairwoman
“There’s no one with more energy than McGuire,” said Rabbitt, who represents the Petaluma area on the county board. “That little pink bunny has nothing on Mike McGuire.”
When McGuire took the stage about an hour into the gathering, he demonstrated the hard-working part of the equation -– he was in full campaign mode, taking the mic, giving shout-out after shout-out (“Let’s give it up for Fulton, everybody! Let’s give it up for Mark West! And Larkfield!”) in energizing the room.
During his breathless, non-stop 15-minute stump speech, McGuire gave particular attention to three key regional issues in his remarks – the potential airport expansion, and clean power – as well as the pressing need to support the education foundations present, and create jobs though the board’s work.
He also outlined many of the important issues still facing the county, and made it a point to give thanks and acknowledgement to the individuals by name those involved in finding solutions.
“These have been the best 12 months of my life,” McGuire said at last, referring to his first year as a county supervisor.
Then he called his core supporters to the stage, as well as supervisors Rabbitt and Zane, to kick off the “wow” part of the celebration with hand-waving, hip-shaking dance to the disco hit “YMCA.”
It wasn’t the Village People, but these Sonoma County people sure know how to mix politics with a party.