Year in Review - Bitter election flushes council
A negative election campaign occasionally packs a big punch when voters head to the polls.
That appeared to be the case when Willows Mayor Vince Holvik and Councilman Gary Hansen were ousted from office behind newcomers Bill Spears, Larry Mello and Larry Domenighini, who grabbed the top votes in November's general election.
Although seven people running for three open seats on the Willows City Council served as an early warning that winds of political change were blowing, few people expected a total turnover.
Willows police Chief Bill Spears garnered 1,069 votes to Holvik's 460.
Holvik had previously been elected four times.
Hansen did come in fourth in his bid for reelection with 607 votes, followed by Trudi DeVoss and Mike Butler.
Almost immediatly after filing for election in August, Spears came out early in his attack against Holvik and Hansen, and a plan to systematically defeat any and all incumbents spread quickly among Spears' followers.
Signs on vehicles and in yards saying "no incumbents" popped up around town in the weeks leading up to the election.
The anti-incumbent sentiment even spread to council members not up for re-election in 2012, like Terry Taylor-Vodden, who was appointed last year to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Sandy Hobbs.
Signs calling for Vodden's recall also appeared in Willows prior to the election, but were removed and all but forgotten afterward.
As of yet, no officials action has been taken to initiate any sort of recall, election officials said.
But the political unrest didn't stop with just voting out the incumbents.
Signs also popped up around town attacking City Manager Steve Holsinger, who is not an elected official.
A number of "Holsinger Must Go" signs were waved at a City Council meeting when officials were set to vote on the nonrenewal of candidate Spears as chief of police.
Even after the election, the attack on Holsinger continued.
On Dec. 11, land developer Forest Sprague lodged a formal complaint against Holsinger and requested a disciplinary hearing with the City Council to discuss the issue.
Sprague said Holsinger interfered in his personal business and possibly sabotaged the development of a new motel and restaurant complex in Orland.
Although Holvik had remained optimistic during the election, he said he felt a shift in sentiment earlier in the year.
For the most part, he blamed the economy.
"When things are good, people are happy," he said. "When the economy is bad, everyone is upset and looking for someone to blame. They blame the City Council and hate the city manager. What else is new? People suddenly want change because they just want someone to make things better."