On video: El Dorado County supervisor candidates interviewed
As part of the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s coverage of the local election races, both candidates running for the open District 5 seat on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors were interviewed Monday at the Tribune’s Harrison Avenue office. Each candidate was asked the same three questions in the interview and allowed up to three minutes to answer each one. The candidates decided who would start. The interviews were videotaped, but they have also been transcribed below — verbatim — for a written account.
What are the top three issues you would tackle as a county supervisor? Please be specific.
My top three issues: one would be involvement of the community. I feel there’s a lack of transparency right now between the Board of Supervisors, City Council. Any type of legislative body — they’re not involving the community enough, I don’t believe.
No. 2 is to actually listen to the community and what the community wants to do for the future of our community. Most of the studies and surveys and everything, they’ve talked about the No. 1 item has always been recreation to move forward. And that has been the No. 1 thing we’ve totally ignored the entire time that we have been trying to move forward.
And No. 3 would have to be with No. 1: community involvement.
And my top three issues that I’d like to tackle, first off, would be economic vitality. We’ve had such an awful recession over the last six or seven years, and this is time for us to start rebuilding. I really believe strongly that we need to get going — get some economic vitality going in all of our communities, everywhere from Tahoma to South Lake Tahoe, down to Pollock Pines. We need to take a look at what our county can do to help spur economic development.
My second issue? All you have to do is look at what happened over the last few weeks here with that great fire, the King Fire. We really need to make sure that our forests are healthy. So by that end we need to make sure that we work with CalFire and with the U.S. Forest Service to make sure that our forests are thinned properly and that we have public safety and health issues, also within all that, that they are all taken care of.
And so my third issue is: it’s mental health. We really have a problem with mental health these days, and we really need to make sure that our county gets on board and helps to collaborate with all the other agencies to make sure that our mental health issues are directly taken care of. And again, everywhere through all of our communities, we need to make sure that those people that are in trouble that need help can be taken care of in our county.
What organizations do you belong to? How will those associations help or hinder you if in the supervisor seat?
Well I feel it’s incredibly important to have experience in this seat, and that’s where I think I shine. I have been involved with Lake Tahoe Unified School District — I’ve been on the school board, and as past president of that organization — for over 12 years. That’s given me the unique ability and experiences needed to be able to go down to the Board of Supervisors and work with other people — be able to collaborate with other board members. I’m also the immediate past president Soroptomist International of South Lake Tahoe and am current president of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Board of Directors. Again, these are wonderful organizations that have really taught me the skills needed to go down and be able to collaborate with others and make sure that we as a board, on the Board of Supervisors, can do what’s best for the county.
Other jobs, other organizations I’ve belonged to — let’s see, I have been president of PTAs of all three schools my daughters attended: Meyer’s Elementary, which is now Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet School, the middle school, and I helped quite a bit on the high school with site counsel.
And then, again, 25 years ago, I worked with the Meyers Community Plan. Was one of 12 citizens that helped actually develop that. So that gives me incredible background on land use, which is a really important issue now days. Between the TRPA, our Conservancy and the Board of Supervisors, we really need to understand and get a grasp on land use. And that experience I have, and I believe I can bring that, not only to the supervisors, but also to the TRPA and the Conservancy — just about all the other boards that we need to be involved with.
K I do not currently belong to any organizations, and I am not — I spent almost 21 years in the Nevada Army National Guard, where I retired in 2008. I do not feel that I should belong to any particular group or organization in the town. I believe that will help out because through the years that I’ve lived up here, I’ve been involved with every single organization, every single fundraiser, every single thing that’s going on for the community. In this way I feel I can give 100 percent to each one of those organizations without feeling hindered on helping one organization over another. If I belong to one organization and another organization asked us for help, I would give them help, and I would give them anything we could possibly do to help their organization. But there would always be in the background that ‘you’re not helping our organization, you’re helping their organization.’ In this way I just feel that I can work with all the organizations and that’s it.
As far as, you know, dealing with land use and everything else, I built the very first multi-use, multi-family residential/commercial unit in South Lake Tahoe with over 30 years in Meyers, and I have dealt with the TRPA. I’ve dealt with the TAUs. I’ve dealt with the land use. I have dealt with all of the organizations that were involved with that.
For what are you most criticized in the political arena? How do you address the criticism?
You know, I’d have to go through — boy, we’d almost have to need another three minutes for this. What I’m most criticized in the political arena — I’ve been involved in politics in this town probably for the 38 years that I’ve been here. That last 18 has been specifically through my articles: I write as the ‘Ski Bum’. And I started out with the Entertainer magazine and ended up with the Mountain News, which I’m currently no longer writing for during the election. You know, I’ve always been politically motivated in the town. But I get criticized not only political, but I get criticized for a lot of things. I own a tree service and roofing company. I have a lot of — my hands are involved in just about every single thing in this town, and I’m very scrutinized. I have to watch my Ps and Qs in this town.
I mean as far as being criticized in the political arena? I just started in the political arena, if you can call it politics. How do I address this criticism? You know head on. You know if someone wants to criticize me, I have no problems with them criticizing me and telling me different things. But they cannot do it anonymously. There is no way, no how I will deal with anyone anonymously. I’m willing to listen to everybody as far as addressing the criticism.
Well I’ve been in politics for quite awhile. I’ve been on the school board for over 12 years, so naturally there’s been some very difficult decisions we’ve had to address. And probably the most difficult was when we had to close two schools up here because of declining enrollment. That was the very first decision I had to make as a school board member 12 years ago, and it was very difficult because one of the schools was my daughter’s. That being said, probably the best part about that is that we took those schools at their lowest point and we’ve built them up to one of the strongest school districts in California, I believe. We have wonderful new facilities, and we have great staff and that’s — I really have to credit that to our entire board, to being able to work together and collaborate.
And that’s really how you address criticism, you have to work together, get out there, have communication with people and explain to them why it is you’re doing something. There’s always going to be criticism about every move you make, and I’ve learned that through the years. And what you have to do is decide and make a decision, be a strong leader, and then go back and explain to people why you made that decision. And nine times out of 10, people will understand and appreciate the fact that you’ve come back to them and talked to them about whatever questions they had. And I will promise to always do that. I will have town hall meetings whenever there’s any discussion and we need to meet, we can meet. I have a open door policy, and I will continue to have that open door policy throughout my career.