Candidates define themselves
A crowd of about 70 people gathered at the South Lake Tahoe branch of the El Dorado County Library to hear a debate between the three candidates for El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor.
City Council member Margo Osti, South Lake Tahoe Police and Fire Chief Dave Solaro and postal worker and businessman Dan Browne squared off for about an hour, fielding questions from local media and community representatives.
Browne, a 26-year basin resident, said the most important issue facing the community is the economy, or the lack of a viable one, at the South Shore.
“We have not shared in the prosperity the rest of the nation has shared in due to agencies that are supposed to protect the lake, but really do more to harm it,” he said.
Osti, who has served on the City Council for eight years, told the crowd of her successful push to bring council meetings to South Lake Tahoe homes via cable television and said delivering what she promises is what county residents can expect of her as supervisor.
“I’m very proud of that,” Osti said of televised council meetings.
Solaro, a 29-year basin resident, said the issues of economics at the lake and environmental issues are too important to be left to career politicians.
“The election is not about the candidates, it’s about you and your needs,” Solaro said.
All three candidates agreed development on the Western Slope has been handled poorly by the current board of supervisors, as Solaro and Osti said there were too many subdivisions approved for the amount of water available.
“The subdivisions could have been put on hold until there was enough water, but they weren’t,” Solaro said.
All also agreed it is not too late to save rural areas along that slope.
The candidates, responding to a question of how the area can come up with the money needed to match federal government funds for the promised presidential deliverables, seemed to agree matching funds were out of the community’s price range.
“We need $50 million per year from the community (to match the $1.3 billion in government funds),” Browne said. “That in itself will cripple us.”
“Most of us don’t have luxuries others have elsewhere,” Osti said, describing sacrifices basin residents make for the environment. “It (matching funds) cannot come from us. We don’t have it.”
The candidates were also asked about Golden Bear Park.
Solaro said the failed park may not have been the best solution for recreation, but said he is an advocate of youth recreation services for the community.
He said the joint powers authority formed between several agencies and governments in the county will help issues like the quest for a park.
“The JPA equals a win, win,” Solaro said.
Osti said she is also in favor of a park and added she was instrumental of the organization of the JPA.
Browne said the eventual community park must not only serve the needs of the community, but should also facilitate better tourism. He said all one needs to do is watch the number of people sledding on hills near the Lake Tahoe Airport in the winter to understand the need for a park.
“I will drive to Placerville, not you,” Osti said in closing, promising to stay basin-based.
Solaro also stressed the importance of an accessible county representative and said he will have a website on the Internet where voters can ask him questions and he will respond.
Browne said he has been less visible in the community than the police chief or council member and has not been saddled by any interest organizations.
The debate was sponsored by the Tahoe Mountain News and KRLT/KOWL.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune and the League of Woman Voters will hold another debate May 11 at the South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers.
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