Humphreys gears up for County Board of Supervisors
With her initial term on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors just on the horizon, Penny Humphreys has a word or two concerning the complex issues the county will be facing in the near future: It’s the water, stupid.
“The No. 1 issue we are facing is the water wars,” said Humphreys, who defeated incumbent supervisor Walt Shultz this past June in an acrimonious race for the District IV seat.
“Water is the big issue in this county because it seems to connect to everything else,” she said. “Concerns about employment, agriculture, growth, traffic, all seem to come back to that issue.”
Humphreys, 56, is a third-generation Californian who has lived in El Dorado County for 27 years – all at the same residence in Rescue with husband, Ken, a retired teacher. A former Los Rios Community College District manager and an Emergency Medical Technician, she was raised in the Sacramento area and has one son and seven grandchildren.
Humphreys defeated Shultz in June in a rough-and-tumble race for the four-year board seat, which she will begin occupying in January. Despite being portrayed by her opponent’s camp as an environmental activist, Humphreys, a Democrat, was victorious by nearly 57 percent of the vote – somewhat of a surprise in the predominantly Republican county.
“During the election I was labeled everything from a ‘no-growther’ to a ‘dangerous environmental activist,'” she said. “I laugh that off, because it just isn’t true. I’m a person who believes there are two sides to every issue. My mission on the board is just to get some sensible planning done.”
Chief among her missions will be to help untangle the water problem, in which population growth seems to be outstripping the county’s ability to provide water to residents and businesses.
“The board keeps approving more and houses without guaranteed water to provide for those new residents,” she said. “That in turn hurts people who want to start a new business, it limits employment and it throws a scare into the agricultural community, who fear that we’re going to take water from them and give it to residents.
“It affects traffic flow in the Highway 50 corridor, because with more residents and fewer jobs in the county, there will be a large commute to Sacramento.
“I don’t know what the answer is going to be, but we can’t keep approving more housing until we have some of those answers.”
Humphreys said she decided to run for a Board of Supervisors seat because nothing was getting done.
“It seems like the five (board) members are always at war with themselves,” she said. “They’ve built so many walls around the issues that nothing gets accomplished. We need a middle ground.”
Humphreys will represent a huge district – stretching from the east side of El Dorado Hills to the Desolation Wilderness area – but feels the challenges there are no different than anywhere else.
“There are more individual communities (than in other districts), but the problems are the same,” she said. “Generally, many people feel that they are not truly represented, and I want to change that. People from all walks of life, including our children, need to be heard from and represented fairly.
“I’m looking forward to working with the board as a member of a team. We need teamwork to solve our problems.”
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