Below are a few issues that seem to rise to the top of the priority list for many people. Managing the priorities of our county and what's important to all, entails a list that long surpasses what you see below.
I'll not only work hard on what's important to the residents of District 1, I'll work hard for all who call Mendocino County their home.
I don't make this commitment hoping I can fulfill the promise, I make it because I've proven I can, and will. I've worked tirelessly to help families get back home after the 2017 and 2018 fires. I've done this through hard work—real work. I've developed strong relationships throughout the State of California over the last 10 years, and have proven to be a respected representative of the people—all of them.
Local Fire Protection / Prevention / Awareness
Education about maintaining a defensible space, keeping your property clear of fire fuel, etcetera, is nothing new. Most people know what needs to be done, but most have a hard time keeping up. We used to be able to put out fires in the “old days”. I say “we” because I was part of that “we”. As a former paid and volunteer firefighter, I’ve been on dozens of Strike Teams, back when we were actually able to put out wildland, brush and grass fires. Conditions are different now – they just are.
Our county finally tossed a bone to the Fire Districts with Prop 172 funds – not enough. A paradigm shift needs to occur when it comes to adequately funding our fire districts. Our local firefighters are best qualified to reach out to our residents and discuss fuel abatement measures. They can’t do it on pancake breakfast fundraisers alone. I’m most likely the only candidate with real, first-hand experience in firefighting, saving lives, auto extrication, donning an SCBA, and even delivering a baby … in Spanish. I understand the challenges we face on this topic; I’ve been involved since the early 80’s.
Potter Valley Project / Agriculture
An obvious pressing item is the Potter Valley project. Most would agree that we need to continue the hard work being done by others, and work to continue the project and the management of a much-needed water supply.
Family farms and ranches
are a big part of our District. The challenges facing them are numerous and
without community support many will not continue to provide the quality of life
which defines part of Mendocino County. As a
Board member, being their advocate is crucial.
Our agricultural community needs certainty in bringing their products to market. Water is the central concern. The Potter Valley Project is the life’s blood of our rural and urban residents as well as sensitive natural habitats. Collaborative community consensus must drive the advocacy for this Project given our reliance upon it. This will require compromise and balancing all users.
The current community efforts to preserve this Project must be supported. This is my intent. It is the main work of an elected official to bring forward and fight for their district’s issues. That’s the role I see for myself.
Not only is it important to continue, at the county level, working with the actual ‘boots on the ground” folks trying to get families back home, but there’s a budgetary shortfall with every property that doesn’t have a home sitting on it.
I took my job as a Case Manager a little more serious than the job description required. In addition to assisting hundreds of folks navigate the nightmares created by FEMA, insurance, mortgage, cost of building, and most importantly, the reality of losing everything they owned, I’ve helped folks deal with the challenges of wading through the Building and Planning process. We’ve even built a few homes for those who had little or no insurance at all.
Much of our work will be done by the time 2021 rolls around, but much will still need to be done to improve the process. I’m confident my years of experience prior to the fires of 2017, coupled with the last 2 years working directly with our county, will result in some interesting and productive conversations to help improve our overall housing crisis.
Law Enforcement / Health and Human Services
I've enjoyed a strong, personal and professional relationship with law enforcement, and I understand the importance of an equally strong health and human services delivery system. These essential services are paramount to creating healthy and safe communities.
There will never be a time where law enforcement can let its guard down, but the better we do at providing services to the most vulnerable, early on, the easier it can be on our law enforcement personnel.
I've spent most of my professional life either self-employed or in high-level management positions. I understand, first hand, the challenges of creating jobs and maintaining them. I know what it's like to succeed and fail, and I know what it takes to bounce back from failure.
As an experienced County Supervisor, I also understand the role government has in our local economy. Striking a balance between ensuring health & safety and burdening the private sector is something I understand from all perspectives.
If local government does its job by improving and enhancing essential services, creating safe and clean communities, the economy should naturally improve.
Top Budget Priorities
The county's budget reflects the priorities of the county — it's supposed to. Nearly every policy decision made at the county level is tied to the budget. It's vitally important for each Supervisor to not only get familiar with the budget, but to meet regularly with department heads to ensure our budget is in line with our priorities and will adequately meet the needs of our citizens in respect to delivering essential services.
Speaking of priorities — people are the priorities of local government. Out of an approximate $300 million budget, the majority is tied to Health and Human Services, which I include law enforcement and probation. We're in the people business. My personal priorities will be the same as they were when I was County Supervisor elsewhere, to make sure we provide the best essential services we can. Additionally, I want to make it clear that local fire districts, although independent of the county, need to be recognized as crucial deliverers of those essential services. They need to be part of the budget process, as they should have been over 3 decades ago.
Affordable housing could mean different things to different people. As a builder of affordable housing for those who lost their homes in the 2017 fires (under or uninsured), I can see areas of improvement in the building and planning process alone.
The County should continue tapping into its resources through CSAC and other partners at the state and federal level to seek additional funds to help build income eligible affordable housing.
Another form of affordable housing has to do with our local workforce. We have county employees, teachers, first responders who earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing, but not nearly enough to buy in the communities in which they work. In addition to the current model of developers seeking tax credits to build subsidized housing, we need to explore the possibilities of partnering with legitimate non-profit builders to increase our housing stock for our hard-working essential employees.
I'll try to make this short and sweet. Mainly because that's how I'd like to see this issue be addressed in the future.
Why isn't it just legalized already?
Don't misunderstand that comment to believe I think a carte blanche is in order for the industry, because I don't, but I also don't believe government should get as involved as it is.
When the federal government catches up, it will determine that weed should be legalized for the following purposes: 1) For recreational purposes. 2) To decriminalize recreational possession and use, and 3) It has some medicinal benefits.
Numbers 1 and 2 are self-explanatory - I hope. Regarding the medicinal benefits, I'll agree it does, but there's a bigger supply of weed than there are illnesses it cures. So let's just get real and admit that the main reason to legalize is for the recreational benefit, and that's OK. I've seen the differences between the effects of alcohol and weed.
Now let's bring government into it. I've carried a county budget book with me since 2010. The priorities of the county is to provide essential services it's legally and morally obligated to provide. Our budget identifies those priorities. Cannabis isn't front and center in that budget book, but it seems to overshadow what is.
Aside from law enforcement protecting us from the bad actors wreaking havoc on our environment, and thieves motivated by greed and laziness, government needs to adopt a more reasonable process for our local cannabis growers who play by the rules. Government exists to provide essential services, and the cannabis industry isn't one of those services.
My message to government and to the cannabis industry. Government has no business creating an industry within itself to manage the cannabis industry, and to the cannabis industry, government doesn't exist to carve a path for your private sector ambitions. Let's come up with a better way.
Native American Communities
Fire Prevention on a Larger Scale