By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – May 11, 2022
I wish to acknowledge ALL candidates who participated in tonight’s Forum. Thank you for your service.
The dais was crowded but all candidates for the Dist. 5 Supervisor forum at the United Methodist Church found a seat and responded to Panel questions.
In order, Governor-appointed SUE MASTEN delivered her opening two minute statement. Masten cited her 40 year political career in activism, her quest for a ” fair share” of soon to be dispersed Federal infrastructure grant funding and… “bringing diverse parties to the table.” This Masten theme of bringing parties to the table was repeated several times throughout the evening.
Former Del Norte Sheriff DEAN WILSON was up next and after paying homage to recently passed away Supervisor Bob Berkowitz, cited his 23 year career as a Crescent City Police Officer and 12 year (three term) career as Sheriff, his experience of understanding the County budget, and heaped enormous praise for those he has worked with and supervised over his long career.
TERRI COLTON spoke of her long, distinguished career in public service, near four decade career helping organize the JC Tournament, the Redwood Rockettes cheer squad, her business acumen and her pride in helping build the Senior Center. Colton… “hopes to make Del Norte healthy again.”
DAVID JONES, current Klamath Chamber of Commerce president and retired Building Inspector acknowledged his recent service on the Redistricting Committee and shared his vision to be the voice of change on the Board, if he is elected.
DAVID MARKEL, current president of the Bertch-Oceanview Water District stated, “Del Norte is in need of immediate BOS change, cited poor conditions of Dist. 5 roads and shared his concern Dist. 5 has been ” neglected by the County. He also stated he’s not a politician but if elected, he will place the interests of his constituents above all else.
Panelist Dan Schmidt of The Triplicate posed the first question and asked all candidates what County Dept. received more than its fair share of the 21/22 Budget.
No candidate actually answered the question. All candidates delivered answers without acknowledging which department was delivered more money than it deserved.
Wilson spoke of the $36 million General Fund and the erroneous impression the Sheriff ‘s office receives some 70% of discretionary spending. Wilson cited about 58% of the general fund is allocated to ALL law enforcement which includes jail and patrol operations (27%) the Coroner, District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation Dept. (Including Juvenile Hall), Code Enforcement, Animal Regulation, Youth Authority draw revenue reflecting the 58% figure.
Masten did not answer the question but identified the County is “In Crisis” and the need to bring people to the table is imperative.
Colton stated all departments are underfunded and promised to throughly scrutinize and ” tear down” all departments’ operations.
Jones spoke about Measure R as under-funding the DNSD.
Markel cited Measure R as a job killer, too much of our tax dollars fund wasteful government and the need for our local governmen’t to live within its means.
Panelist Marie Camarena asked the question of how to address mental health needs in the County. Responses were remarkably similar acknowledging the severity of the problem with no quick fix. Candidate Jones did cite the need for the religious community to provide assistance to this complicated issue.
Panelist Schmidt asked about the abundance of State and Federal grant money and should the Board reject some of this ” free money.”
Candidate Wilson stated the Board should reject some of the Consent Agenda items, pending further studying the consequences of accepting ” strings attached ” funding.
Colton similarly agreed that “strings attached” grants may hurt the County.
Jones stated grants are not the answer.
Markel similarly rejected grants.
Without addressing the issue, Yes or No, candidate Masten cited the success of Hope Village in Medford and the need to develop working partnerships with all parties and again referred to bringing diverse groups to the table.
The most significant issue of the evening asked each candidate to give a YES or NO response to the removal of the FOUR dams along the Klamath River.
* Masten YES for removal
*Wilson NO for removal
* Markel NO for removal
*Colton Undecided for the majority of her answer, then indicated YES for removal.
*Jones undecided needs more study.
Unfortunately, there was no posed question on the removal of the Red Mountain radio telecommunications system, in respect to Yurok Tribal heritage but this removal has caused considerable concern to emergency communications services.
It is indeed challenging to cast your vote based on a few snippets from one candidate forum. There’s always more we can learn about a candidate. Many of you have just received your ballots. I would recommend you hold off with a quick ballot entry at least until after this week’s Del Norte Association of Realtors candidate forums.
My grading for tonight’s District 5 Forum is based on the following criteria:
PRESENTATION OF OPINION,
ABILITY to listen,
RESPONSES to direct questions.