Sean Dougherty Photo by Tarmo Hannula

Editor’s note: a story on 19th Congressional incumbent Jimmy Panneta will follow this one. Republican challenger Jason Michael Anderson did not respond to a request for an interview.


District Sean Doughery realized his government needed a reboot when he went to Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s office with his concerns about the war in Ukraine, and later, the one in Gaza.

The response, he says, was lackluster at best, but mostly non-responsive. His demands for diplomatic responses fell on deaf ears with both Panetta and his staff.

“I was so frustrated that I couldn’t even get a meeting with him,” Dougherty says.

And so now the 44-year-old engineer, who lives in Santa Cruz with his wife and 2-year-old son, has thrown his hat in the ring to run for Panetta’s 19th District House seat.

A progressive who is running under the Green Party ticket, Dougherty calls his effort a “peace campaign.” He has spoken publicly in calling for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza, and lists criminal justice reform and medicare for all among his platforms.  

Dougherty also says that, if the U.S. halved its military spending, it would still keep the country safe and leave money to give every American worker paid family leave. Closing military bases in other countries, he says, would allow the country to house the homeless and make every public university tuition-free.

He also wants the U.S. to stop granting drilling permits for new gas and oil, and end the influence of lobbyists for that industry.

He says he became  politically active during the Iraq War and the Occupy movement. After that, he served on the advisory group of Santa Cruz for Bernie. He is currently co-chair of the Membership and Outreach Committee of the California Green Party.

Now that his campaign has kicked into gear, Dougherty says his focus has shifted to campaign reform.

As a Green party candidate, he is prohibited from accepting corporate donations.

That can pose a challenge for a candidate running for a statewide office, where the $17,500 price tag for being placed in the California voter guide can be prohibitive, let alone the cost of mailers and yard signs.

“Once you run your own campaign, it really comes home to you, especially a House district,” he says.

That is not so for Panetta, who accepts millions of dollars in campaign donations and can afford the advertisements needed to garner votes, Dougherty says. 

“He takes money from anyone,” he says.

Dougherty says he is not alone in his disillusionment with the two-party system. A growing number of people, he says, want a third party to infuse new life into the system.

“We’ve never seen so much of a demand,” he says. “It’s time to do this. The two major parties are failing us. This less-than-evil voting that we’ve been engaging in has been shown not to work.”

Dougherty pointed out that the last Progressive candidate to challenge Panetta was Adam Scow, who now sits on the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees. While Panetta pulled off an expected win with 66% of the vote—advancing to the November runoff with Republican Jeff Gordon—Scow still managed to garner an impressive 13.5%.

While a Republican is likely to lose in the left-leaning district, a Green Party candidate could stand more of a chance, Dougherty says.

“I want people to understand that we actually can unseat this guy,” he says. 

Dougherty also says he was motivated to run by his son, who he describes in campaign literature as, “objectively the smartest and bestest person to have ever walked the earth.”

“That is one of the things that is motivating me to run,” he says. “It makes you think of the future a lot more.”

He also says that the billion-dollar weapons industry lobbies lawmakers to expand the military budget and support new wars. “I just feel like talk is cheap,” Dougherty says. “Politicians say what we want to hear, and then they get into office and either they are serving their donors directly, or they serve the same donors indirectly by answering to corporate leadership that is taking corporate money.”

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. Vote Republican. The Demonrats have proven they’re incompetent. You get what you vote for.

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    • I will never ever vote for any GOP candidate. They’re doing their best to destroy democracy along with their Furer and rapist leader Dunzo Trump. They’re anti women’s rights, along with their plan to privatize Medicare and hurt all seniors. Go ahead and vote GOP and see what it gets you. Nada.

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      • Rapist? Has he ever been convicted? That’s like calling you a Pedophile Steve, just like your lord and savior Biden. I’d rather vote for the party that freed the slaves and not the party that fought to keep them. Democrats have shown for decades to be the party that grooms children and only hurts minorities

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  2. Vote for anyone but a Democrat or a Republican. Both will fund foreign wars and send you money overseas while our standard living keeps going down.

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  3. I wish I lived in Sean Dougherty’s district so that I could vote for someone who demands a cease fire now, rather than huge military spending that is promoted by Jimmy Panetta. Give voters a real choice, vote for Green Party candidate Sean Dougherty!

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