Supervisor has vocal challenger | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Supervisor has vocal challenger

Susan Wood

It’s official. The race for the 5th District seat has come down to two candidates – incumbent El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago and South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Ted Long.

The deadline to file to run was last Friday.

Santiago won the seat in November with 33 percent of the vote in a four-way race. She’s finishing the four-year term left vacant by Dave Solaro, who, citing health reasons, quit and moved to South Carolina.

Long said he sent a letter Friday to Santiago challenging her to a debate on KTHO radio and asked for a campaign spending cap between $8,000 and $10,000. That’s the amount Santiago spent for the last election four months ago.

Santiago stopped short of agreeing to that amount.

“Whatever I need to get it done – that’s what I’ll spend. The spending cap is not the issue. My election was not bought. I was outspent 8 to 1,” she said Monday, referring to the $89,178 that runner-up Dennis Crabb gathered and spent.

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Long called Crabb’s war chest “ridiculous” and hinted in his campaign he will position himself as lawyer, businessman, educator and legislator – as a city councilman. If he wins the supervisor seat, he says he’ll quit the City Council.

Long expressed concern that environmentalists will come out in full force to support Santiago. He sees their differences as vast and distinct. Long also seemed undeterred by what could be a tough race.

“I think the issues will be clear. I don’t think an incumbent for three months is as big a deal as someone who’s been there for four years,” he said.

Santiago is staying on message.

“The focus of my campaign will always be to reach out to my constituency,” she said. “My response to (his) letter is (highlighted in) my actions every day.”

And it appears Santiago has plenty on her plate. She listened to 25 people at the library talk about county issues during her open house last weekend. Issues ranged from affordable housing to the vacation rental ordinance, the latter apparently not having “enough teeth in it,” she said.

“The joint-use facility wasn’t even on their radar,” she said, referring to the government center proposal between the county, city and Lake Tahoe Unified School District. It was one of the main reasons she established the open house.

Former longtime Councilman Tom Davis said he thought about running for the county supervisor seat as late as last week but admitted “the timing wasn’t right.” He’d also like to give Santiago more of a shot to make a difference than seven months.

“It should be an interesting race because she’s only been there for three months,” he said. Davis wouldn’t publicly venture a guess as to who he thinks will win.

The primary is scheduled for June 6.