Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Opinion by Samuel Strait

The following is my impression of the candidates from the last of three
candidate forums produced for our edification by Del Norte’s fine group
of realtors.  As in each of the two previous gatherings this exemplary
group has given Del Norte County voters a glimpse of what this June’s
primary will have to offer those in District Five.  In a smooth and well
run fashion each of Susan Masten, Dean Wilson, Terri Colton, David
Markel, and David Jones had multiple opportunities to convince those
that attended this forum of their worthiness to be the “last person
standing” come November of this year and occupy the seat formerly held
by another “giant” in Del Notre County, Bob Berkowitz.

Say what you might about each of the five that are seeking the District
Five seat, the choice will not be an easy task, just as solutions for
what ails Del Notre County have become and have remained for decades. 
Clearly, an understanding of the issues that beset us, the Citizens
within the County, are of long standing and not easily washed away by
the efforts of a single supervisor, if even the efforts of all five
supervisors result in that task.  As before, the issues that came to the
attention of those in the audience are not the focus of this piece, but
the suitability of each of those vying for the supervisor’s position is

Beginning with the current “appointed” District Five Supervisor, Susan
Masten, there is the unavoidable impression that she is trying very hard
to “sell” herself to the voters from a place she is not exactly very
comfortable with.  Her fascination for “defending” her current position
on the Board as if seeking validation is palpable and forced.  Her
current performance as a sitting supervisor seems to seek attention
rather than be an effort to become a meaningful replacement for Mr.
Berkowitz.  She lacks the understanding that a forty five minute service
call to Klamath is the norm throughout the County and very possibly it
could be much longer.  The very fact that the issues which plague this
County, as simply another member of the “Sacramento ignored”, gives me
significant pause when considering fitness for becoming hopefully not
just another member of the 5-0 Club, but a supervisor with eyes wide
open, listening, and questioning that which is placed before one.  Thus
far Ms. Masten has slipped into the role of a Supervisor of the 5-0 Club
rather than one who listens thoughtfully and realizes her powers for
change might just be restricted in California’s “severely restrictive
landscape” for any change to occur in District Five, let alone County wide.

Next up, Mr. Dean Wilson, who is a veteran of the battles that make
solutions for problems within the County a formidable task, let alone
from the stand point of delivery from the clutches of State and Federal
governments.  Many of the responses from those opposing Mr. Wilson,
sorry Dean but it sounds like something out of a comic strip, seem
unaffected when simple straight forward “solutions” being offered are
not often possible, but occupy the rarefied air of a fantasy land.  
Understanding the “beast” that local government has become is clearly in
Wilson’s wheel house, and his understanding that doing more with less is
in contradiction to most who will face him in the upcoming election. If
he were to become the “listener” rather than the source of
misinformation and dysfunction currently existing within local
government, he most certainly has the skills to become part of some of
the solutions for issues that have existed for longer than just the past
few years.  Dean obviously cares about not just existing in this County,
but within the limits of what is possible, would like to make simply
“existing”  a much more agreeable state of living here in Del Norte County.

Ms. Colton clearly is an active participant in this community and has
been for a considerable length of time.  Her performance during the
course of this evening’s gathering was difficult to place and required
an additional conversation post debate to determine “where in the world
Ms. Colton was” on several of the issues of the evening.  While not a
good start for the purposes of determining what impressions were carried
away about suitability, she did open up privately, fared well in the
listening department and appears relatively well versed on the realities
of what can and cannot be accomplished by local government.  This was
not particularly clear for much of the public portion of her performance
and thus made it difficult to reconcile public with private.  The jury
remains “out” as to just how far voters can trust the notion that she
will simply resort to becoming one of the 5-0 Club going forward or
whether her sense of public benefit will become her mode of successful
operation within the confines of what is actually possible.

And then there was David Markel.  Mr. Markel very clearly and
passionately identifies with his neighborhood, the Bertsch Tract, and
seems almost oblivious to the fact that his neighborhood is not the only
portion of District Five.  Aside from Dean Wilson, many of the remaining
candidates give a similar impression that only a small portion, be it
Klamath, or the Bertsch tract, is the focus of the issues that should be
viewed as County wide issues.  Not to dismiss Mr. Markel lightly, he has
identified several of the issues most pressing for citizens County wide,
just not any specifics that are possible and readily lead to solutions.
Unfortunately County government seems to consistently be given some sort
of unsupportable aura with almost mystical powers to become the “be all,
end all” for every known deficiency in modern society.  This is the trap
that most candidates, including Mr. Markel, fall into when reality hits,
“Government in endless supply, does not produce endless positive results
for endless differing members of a given population”.  Humans remain
stubbornly individuals.  One size fits all government solutions do not
necessarily work in “Sacramento ignored” Del Norte County.

Finally we reach the last “victim” in this unhinged diatribe, Mr. David
Jones, not shy about trotting out a veritable laundry list of personal
accomplishments in public service as well as those of his past
employment.  I often hesitate when I hear that a candidate’s entire
career has involved  being exclusively  a member of the taxpayer funded
set.  It too often produces a “tunnel” vision set of “tools” when
dealing with the possibility that government responses to issues very
often are not the best of choices in the mix of solutions for moving the
needle towards actual accomplishment of the task.  Very often citizen
responses to obvious doom and gloom issues should be left in those very
capable hands.  Mr Jones tends not to be an advocate for that kind of
solution.   While he clearly has a strong voice for issues within the
Klamath Area, that’s not the only area of concern in the County.  He,
Ms. Masten, and Mr. Markel will need to address their obsession with
colloquialism concerning the needs of the entire County before
leadership is in their worlds.

Enough with this.  This evening was both informative and entertaining. 
The five will have their work cut out for them in the ensuing month just
to make it into the final test in November.  I would hope they
understand that all successful solutions do not necessarily stem from
County Government and that they will be undertaking a new role, that of
being a representative, too often forgotten in the heady world of
politics.  Please take the “I” out of any thoughts going forward and
force yourselves to listen first and foremost before engaging the
opening in the lower portion of your face.

Again, too often those that work tirelessly behind the scenes receive
little of the credit that make this County a great place to live.  That
said, it is my heart felt wish to offer these words to the Board of
Realtors.  Great job!

One thought on “And Then There Were Five”
  1. In district 5 the only time we see or hear of or for our supervisors is at election time. People can “WISH” all they want but I want solutions and results.

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