As a former board member for Lake Tahoe Unified Schools and current member of the South Lake Tahoe City Council, El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor candidate Angela Swanson said she has the job experience needed to hit the ground running.
“I get teased a lot about being a talker, because I’m always eager to share. But I’m also a good listener,” said Swanson, who is 53 and studied political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
“My skill as a politician isn’t always having the right answer, it’s bringing the right people together to come up with that shared vision, that collaboration.”
One of six candidates for District 5 Supervisor in the June 3 primary, Swanson touts her background with a number of collaborative projects including a major bond initiative the school district passed in 2008 to invest tens of millions of dollars into its buildings, a Harrison Avenue streetscape improvement project in the city, and a multi-agency Lakeview Commons Project.
“Nothing is more rewarding than when you walking into a (school) building that is open and one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the basin and in the state, and you have parents and kids touching it and saying, ‘We did this for us, for our kids,’ and you see that sense of ownership and empowerment,” Swanson said.
“My skill is knowing when you have the right vision in front of you and going for it, building a coalition and pushing it forward. Politics, people don’t realize, is a team sport.”
Swanson said she sees opportunities to take that collaborative approach to county government, a jurisdiction ripe for change.
“Four years ago it was all about politics of the past. It would have been excruciating to be a part of, with deal making and lots of shenanigans. Now it’s just like our City Council, we have opportunities to fix things,” Swanson said.
“We’re finally coming into a county that acknowledges that if you go through 11 human resource directors in nine years you have a severely dysfunctional culture. In mental health and Child Protective Services the front line staff barely lasts three years. Middle management barely lasts five years. It causes a lot of disruption, but the culture is ready for change and they are finally acknowledging it.”
In Meyers, Swanson would like to see the county look at acquiring and cleaning up the Tveeten property, a prominent eye sore in the community. That could help set the stage for its redevelopment.
“If there is a symbol of failure to thrive in Meyers it is that property,” Swanson said.
“Let’s take it off center. Everyone is vapor locked on, ‘It’s an eye sore and problem, a symbol of what needs to change.’ This is where government can do a huge service by being an agent to clean it up and make it an open slate so we can get the kind of improvement Meyers is looking for.”
Other important issues include strong basic services, economic development improved infrastructure and better coordination of services between the county and its other jurisdictions, Swanson said.
“But the first thing is a culture change in the supervisors and the county. Without that it’s all lip service,” Swanson said.
Swanson said she sees a strong opportunity to work at the county level to help turn things around and represent communities in the district, from South Lake Tahoe to Pollock Pines, Meeks Bay and Tahoma.
“I’ve had wonderful opportunities to be elected at times when organizations were profoundly broken and in flux and ready for change, and been able to work my way through those issues with them,” she said.
“With the seat being open and coinciding with the end of my term (on South Lake Tahoe City Council), I see a chance to do that again, and be part of a team to craft new visions and get some things done.”