Good ol’ boys’ party may be finished
El Dorado County voters are faced with a wonderful prospect – they can change the future now.
For the first time in more than a decade, it isn’t politics as usual in El Dorado County. Three of the five board of supervisor seats are open, with an excellent selection of candidates for Tuesday’s primaries.
The old guard, embodied by Supervisor Mark Nielsen, faces serious challenges to its pro-growth agenda, which has been dominating county politics for more than a decade.
During that time, Nielsen has had a strangle hold over the board, manipulating the outcome of board decisions with backroom wheeling and dealing or marshaling phone call and letter-writing campaigns against any supervisor who threatened the pro-development agenda.
While a number of candidates in Tuesday’s primary share Nielsen’s pro-growth beliefs, no one candidate has the power or the promise of power that is the hallmark of Nielsen’s legacy.
Also up for grabs is Ray Nutting’s seat.
Nutting was one of the other two board votes Nielsen could almost always rely upon. While Nutting will deny Nielsen’s power of persuasion, Nutting’s voting record almost mirrors Nielsen’s.
The third, or swing vote, has traditionally fallen to the Lake Tahoe supervisor. For many years, that was John Upton. While Upton voted with Nielsen more than he voted against him, the swing vote wasn’t always a foregone conclusion. And it certainly hasn’t been with the current Lake Tahoe representative, Dave Solaro.
Nielsen’s nemesis, Supervisor Sam Bradley, never managed to topple the prevailing agenda, but he did render the board of supervisors dysfunctional. Between public and private bickering, the rift between Bradley and Nielsen was legendary, often bringing county business to a screeching halt. That was until the board figured out how to silence Bradley by failing to appoint him to a significant committee or project.
But Bradley, too, is on his way out. His seat is up for grabs.
And that opens up possibilities for a real leap forward for the board. No longer in the grips of decade-old factional feuding, the new board has the potential to ease, rather than thwart, the county into a new era.
For once, the major county issue doesn’t hinge on the tedious pro-growth vs. anti-growth debate. The growth issue has already been decided for the some time to come. Some 25,000 new houses have been approved for building in the county, making the growth issue a moot point.
The real question now is how is the county going to accommodate that level of growth.
What the county needs in its board of supervisors are forward-thinking, ready-to-compromise supervisors who will accommodate growth already approved without mortgaging the unique rural atmosphere of the county.
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