4th District Supervisor Candidate Forum

LWV of Mendocino will moderate a candidate forum for the 4th District Supervisor elected office. Audience questions will be collected, so start thinking about what important issues you want to hear about from the candidates.

The League of Women Voters hosted a candidates forum this Thursday January 16th at Town Hall in Fort Bragg. This forum brought the two candidates for Fourth Supervisorial District of Mendocino County to their only public forum held during the campaign. This allowed them both the opportunity to define their candidacy and highlight their differences. In their opening statements we got to hear them state their platforms which consisted of a 3 minute statement.

After watching this forum I was struck by how so much of the Mendocino Coast political scene has been represented by these two political rivals over the past 20 years. The questions were generally softballs lobbed to these candidates with very little opportunity to differentiate what were accomplishments and what was just voting on a subject. Both touted green credentials and an awareness of climate change as a real issue they will be addressing.

Some differences between them are

Cannabis issues weren’t addressed except in very general terms, with one notable exception when Dan addressed the Sunset Clause hanging over the growers in the Simpson Lane/Mitchell Creek area, justifying his support for this Sunset Clause by claiming that he is supporting keeping the non growing property owners property value up by banning commercial cannabis industry in the Coasts prime growing region from participating in the cannabis economy, destroying the growers property values as the Sunset Clause makes their property unsalable.

Some questions I wish were asked were:

  • Will the Supervisor have regular office hours on the Coast, where the voters can drop by to discuss their concerns?
  • What will you do to support our hospital if the affiliation vote fails.
  • How will you support medical transfers off of the Coast in bad weather

Lindy started first by illuminating the fact that Dan Gjerde has run unopposed for the last two elections. Afterwards he listed his public service accomplishments while sitting on the Fort Bragg City Council. Lindy made it a point to speak on the massive change coming to the County Supervisors in the upcoming election with 3 seats up for change while the other two seats are held by newly elected supervisors, promising new leadership and change.

Dan started by pointing out that he ran unopposed because of his history as a public servant. Dan listed some of his accomplishments such as, The City reservoir to handle the City’s water shortage, Housing shortage forums and an amendment to allow second units within the Coastal zone, County road improvements, and pay raises of 5% for coast county employees. Fiscal responsibility has led to County reserves being increased from 17 million to 37 million dollars and he led the effort to join Sonoma Clean Power.

The league then went to questions with the first being, “What do you see as the primary problem facing the county?” Dan answered, “The cost of housing.” He went on to suggest community land trusts to help lower the land costs.

 Lindy responded by suggesting that the economy kept sales tax revenue too low. Measure B, the county mental health initiative is moving too slow. Reviewing county contracts, Homelessness and cannabis regulation being too cumbersome ended his list.

Q.) The next question was to ask the candidates to list their accomplishments.

Lindy’s list being:

  • Saving the GP drying sheds
  • As member of the Fort Bragg finance committee, a balanced budget with 50% of any surplus going into reserves.
  • Improving the homeless situation

Dan’s list included:

  • Reopening the Coast Animal Shelter
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Resurfacing 31 roads in the 4th district
  • 2nd housing unit allowances inside the coastal zone
  • 4 million dollars for Summers lane reservoir funding
  • Allocating sales tax more equitably to local fire departments

Q.) The next question was, “What ideas do you have for solving the pension dept?

Dan believes the county has the capability to pay off the pension dept if they keep doing what they’re doing using existing policies.

Lindy says scrutinizing existing departments and programs for savings and he encourages paying 50% of any extra revenue down on the pension debt.

Q.) Will you encourage closing the Caspar Transfer Station?

Lindy, No, he supports improving the existing facility and reducing the waste stream by the community.

Dan supports waiting until the consultants the city and county hired comes up with their recommendations and moving forward with that.

Q.) How will you combat climate change?

Dan thinks our arrangement with Sonoma Clean Power is working with cheaper energy cocts and grants to build battery backups by SCP and more electric car charging stations.

Lindy supports more car pooling and public transit expansion for Jury duty, prepare for salt water intrusion to our water supply and make a policy where climate change affects every policy made by the county administration.

Q.) What will you do to support the cannabis industry and keep those jobs on the coast?

Lindy suggests streamlining the county permitting process.

Dan refutes the idea that the county is backed up in the permitting process saying the many other agencies involved are why the process is so slow and onerous. He then added that he supports local property owners being able to shut down local cannabis growing operations that may affect their property values.

Q.) How would you like the county spend the 5.5 million dollars a year in Transit Occupancy Tax revenue?

Dan quoted supporting the $480,000 a year spent on tourist promotion activities while the rest goes into the general fund.

Lindy also supports promotional activities but with more going into supporting local arts based programs.

Q.) What’s your understanding of the homeless crisis and what do you suggest?

Lindy supports existing government supported low income housing developments and a ‘small house’ community zoned in the town.

Dan spoke to the county relaxation of building codes known as class K which he supported, dramatically reducing the cost and availability to build primary and secondary residences.

Q.) Would you support measure V, the county hack and squirt ban?

Dan spoke to his fear of litigation as to why he voted against pursuing a  law suit to enforce the measure and the chance of forfeiting up to a million dollars in legal fees.

Lindy says he would support the voter’s decision to ban the practice and follow through with a law suit if necessary since 66% of the voters voted for it.

Q.) What are your views on Noyo Harbor development and future?

Lindy started by discussing the road and it’s lack of maintenance by the county and that effect on the local economy, the harbor being the 4th district’s economic powerhouse.

Dan pointed out that even with the county lack of maintenance, he was the last person responsible for maintaining it as a city councilmember but other overriding priorities kept him from addressing the harbor in the past.

Q.) How can the board better communicate to the latino community?

Dan says he has campaign literature is bilingual and he is open to ideas.

Lindy also says his literature is bilingual and he hosted the City’s first Hispanic celebration at Bainbridge Park, supported the city not cooperating with ICE when and if they come to Fort Bragg on immigration raids.

Q.) What is their opinion on short term AirBnB rentals?

Lindy doesn,t favor them because they fracture neighborhoods, don’t pay their fair share of taxes and impact the housing market.

Dan supports aggressive regulation of vacation rentals.

Q.) Do you support the CEO model of government over the CAO model?

Dan doesn’t see much difference and is comfortable with the existing arrangement

Lindy thinks the CEO wields too much power right now and would not object to discussing a change back.

Q.) Would you support removing the existing CEO?

Lindy won’t make any promises to fire anyone but he will sit down and talk to the existing power structure and consider the alternatives.

Dan can work with her and, since she is retiring in a couple of years doesn’t see a problem

Q.) What will you do as a supervisor to stop the county from hiring high priced consultants that don’t produce solutions?

Dan spoke to the quality of the existing department staffing and will encourage more in-house solutions and provide quarterly updates

Lindy also would work with the existing departments to maximize in-house solutions and give them first shot at these projects.

Q.) How can the 4th District improve our rural isolation through rail and buses?

Dan spoke to a state tax that funds transportation saying that there is not more he can do about it.

Lindy spoke to his past membership on MCOG bringing the Coaster, CC rider and other transit programs to the coast and fully supports mass transit.

Q.) What are your thoughts on the distribution of the MTA budget?

Lindy believes it has been distributed fairly to the Coast.

Dan was instrumental in increasing the routes off of the Coast and is lobbying for increased service to Legget, Branscomb, Piercy and Whale Gulch.

Q.) Will you support using managed methods to minimize human conflicts with wildlife instead of using Federal Wildlife Services?

Dan has travelled to Sonoma County to meet with other agencies that use non lethal methods and are looking for someone to come to Mendocino County to train someone, as a business opportunity, to give the county an alternative to the US Wildlife Service.

 Lindy supports the county using a non lethal method of managing wildlife.

Q.) Lindy, how do you see the present alignment of the Board and do you see yourself aligning with Ted Williams.

Lindy said, “I won’t align myself with anyone,” asserting his independence. He does agree with Ted on two issues, Measure V and the wildlife management issue and will work with him to the betterment of the Coast but he is not forming alliances.

Dan says he works with all of the supervisors and they trust me.

Q.) Dan, give examples of expenses you have cut?

Dan has eliminated 2 county management positions, saved $400,000 in Mental Health expenses.

Lindy spoke to the latest vacancy in the community development department that wasn’t filled. The city eliminated the Police Lieutenant position and the assistant to the City Manager.

Q.) What are you doing regarding fire protection?

Lindy supports spending on readiness in staffing training and equipment. He mentioned the upcoming ballot measure putting a TOT on campgrounds to help fund this readiness. Emphasizing that climate change should drive every decision.

Dan worked on getting funding for the last 3 years to local fire departments from the existing County TOT and he is working on the campground tax measure also.

Q.) What steps are you doing to make sure residents in the 4th District are prepared in an emergency?

In the last 2 years he has organized 2 emergency preparedness workshops in the district, working with the Simpson Lane/Mitchell creek residents for an alternate exit from their in case of a fire.

Lindy mentions his years on the Public Safety committee and the need for a second exit from Noyo Harbor, which he has been working on for years.

Q.) What is your vision for funding for county roads?

SB1 is giving the county about 3.5 million for road improvement which is a windfall waiting to be spent and he plans to work on it.

Dan will identify county roads that are not targeted by SB1 and spend county money on those, leaving the SB1 qualified roads to be funded accordingly.

Q.) Both of you made appointments to the Noyo Harbor Commission, in both cases one candidate had overwhelming local support and the other was personally known by you and were more affluent in the community. Can you explain your decisions?

Dan and Lindy feel good about their appointments.

Q.) Directly to Lindy was, “How many board of supervisors meetings have you attended in the past year?

None. I have a job on Tuesday which will change if elected. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch the meetings afterwards. I watch them regularly and I am aware of the issues.

Q.) How are you going to balance bringing new sustainable business without turning us into a formula box store area?

 Dan says that in the county’s zoning area the Coastal Zone will keep that from happening along with a rigorous review process.

Lindy say along with the Coastal Zone we should increase broadband coverage to the area.

Q.) How would you insure measure B funds come to the Coast?

Dan thinks The Adventist Health System could help by running services on their campus thereby stretching the funds to provide services on the Coast and wouldn’t want to exclude them from the conversation

Lindy thinks that after 3 years of collecting funds it’s been misspent and taking way too long. He also supports investigating affiliation with Adventist Health Care.

Q.) How do you feel about the Redwood Trail?

Dan feels it’s a great promotional opportunity to the county but he’s not on that committee.

Lindy expresses his love for rail travel completely misunderstanding the situation where the deal has already been made. The train is never coming back.

Q.) Do you believe there is corruption in the Mendocino County Jail?

Dan has no idea.

Lindy refers the questioner to the Sheriff but will carry the question to the appropriate agencies.

Q.) Can you support market rate housing rather all this focus on homeless?

Dan says second units are market rate housing working with Coast Housing Action Team, coast residents like me that want workforce housing in the marketplace, so I’m not sure what the question is addressing.

Lindy answered, “I understand that people are concerned about homeless or transient housing but that’s an extremely small amount of people, percentage wise. I think affordable and market rate housing is important. The state budget has some money we should look into tapping.

Q.) Do you support the local general plan update and how can you keep it from taking 15 to 20 years, like the last time.

I wasn’t on the last BOS but I can promise we won’t take that long this time. We have a new planning director I helped recruit. We have a g ood team on staff and I’m confident we can do it.

Lindy believes the General Plan Update is important, he has worked on it before and yes we should work on it.

Q.) Are either of you looking to develop KLLR at the Little River Airport, thus facilitating more visitors that want to fly in.

Dan worked with county staff and has a friend that flys in and suggests users should adopt the facilities and self maintain  them.

Lindy stresses the need for an airport for so many transportation reasons and would support development of facilities.

Dan closing:

I was instumental in Mental Health services improvement by leading the firing of Ortner saving $400,000, Additional funding for roads, especially in the 4th district, Doubling county reserves, Reopened the Coast Animal Shelter, practical ideas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by joining Sonoma Clean Power, appointed a climate action committee to prepare for a changing planet

Lindy closing:

This is who we are, rugged individuals. We need to trend toward microgrid power distribution systems, desalination systems. Closely scrutinize outside county contracts to see if we can do better. Besides the people who live here, the 3 greatest assets are, the air, the land and the water. No offshore oil. No fracking. Save the hospital any way we can. Let’s get going on cannabis regulation so we came realize revenue. We collected measure B funds for 3 years now, I promise to expedite the process on the coast. Tourism is a vital component of our economy. I will do more to promote the arts. I have the qualifications. I can stand up to the CEO if needed.

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