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Candidates address county issues

B.H. Bose

While candidates usually venture out into the community to find the most important issues on the minds of its residents, Monday evening’s public forum provided the opportunity for the public and the issues to come to the candidates vying for El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor.

All three candidates, South Lake Tahoe Police and Fire Chief Dave Solaro, businessman and postal worker Dan Browne, and City Council member Margo Osti were present at the forum, which was sponsored by the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the League of Women Voters.

“This forum provides a wonderful opportunity for the voters to bring up issues,” said League of Women Voters for the Placerville area President Paula Lee, who acted as mediator for the forum. “It is much better than information in your mailbox or reading slogan signs. This is the best way to get to know your candidates.”

After the three were introduced, each were given the opportunity to tell the pubic what he or she believes are the most important issues facing South Lake Tahoe and the county.

“This election is not about the candidates, it is about the issues, your family and your needs,” said 29-year resident Solaro. “You should look for the best candidate that will best suit your needs, and I believe I am the best candidate.”

Osti followed Solaro with a pitch of her own.

“I am asking for your vote because I care, and have always cared, about the quality of life at the lake,” said the eight-year City Council member and 20-year resident. “We are sending taxes down there (to Placerville) on an annual basis and nothing is getting returned. This type of draining of our assets and revenue, our hard-earned tax dollars, has got to stop. I give you my vow that I will go down there and not let this continue.”

Browne opened by focusing on economy.

“I come here with one major issue, and that is the economy,” he said, pointing out that he has been a resident for 27 years. “Until we have a viable economy none of what the other two candidates portray will ever happen.”

The public then had its chance to ask questions of the candidates. Since a public forum for District 4 State Assembly followed, the questions were limited. The public was invited to talk to the candidates following the forum’s conclusion.

One of the first questions was regarding Measure A. Speaking on behalf of the public, Lee asked all three candidates how they think the General Plan will affect South Lake Tahoe and what their stand on Measure A was.

“I do support Measure A and support the people’s right to go to an initiative,” Osti said. “Building out under the General Plan will siphon out our tax dollars.”

“While I believe in the initiative process, I don’t believe it should apply to the planning process,” said Solaro, in regard to the public being able to amend the building guidelines under the General Plan through an initiative. “It needs a public process with public input. Measure A gets revisited every eight years (while the General Plan is visited every two years). It’s like using a meat cleaver to do brain surgery, it is too blunt. After listening to the residents, I am not in favor of Measure A.”

Browne responded by saying the public needed “to bite the bullet,” and buy up the land (with tax money) instead of letting developers do it. He also called for a comprehensive plan, when it came to development and “building out.”

Other questions asked involved building a juvenile hall and detox center in South Lake Tahoe, how much time each would devote to the job, each one’s feelings on fire safety in the area and local campaign reform, and adopting a code of ethics.

“I was the first person to bring a code of ethics to the city council. Prior to my term it was operating without one,” Osti said. “I am very proud of the code I brought and would put the same one in place for the Board of Supervisors.”

Solaro also agreed a code of ethics is needed.

“We need it immediately,” he said. “From the day I started running, I announced that. Other professions have it, so shouldn’t public-elected officials? I think we should have it even to a higher level. I also believe we should have campaign reform and term limitations.”

In terms of campaign reform, Browne was definitely in favor.

“I am a very good example of campaign reform,” he said. “I am running a very good campaign and I have no funds. It is about getting out there and being available to the public. He who puts out flashy signs and advertisements is usually the one who gets elected. Is that right? Well, it is up for you to decide.”

In closing statements, Solaro stressed the importance of having a full-time South Lake Tahoe resident working for the community, especially someone the public has entrusted for its safety.

“You trusted me with your safety, now trust me with your tax dollars,” he summed up.

“I sometimes forget why I am here, until I go out into the community. It reminds me why I do this,” Osti said. “The community doesn’t ask much, just for a quality of life that dignifies its existence. I vow I will get that.”

Reading a birthday card from his son, in which his son wished him luck and told him how proud he was, Browne concluded by saying: “Even if I don’t even get one vote, I have already won.”

As for the next candidate for District 5 Supervisor, the winner won’t be known until the total number of June 2 primary votes are tallied. If one candidate doesn’t receive at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two will run off and a winner determined in the November election.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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