By Donna Westfall – January 15, 2018 –
It’s always an unexpected pleasure to sorta know someone around town, then sit down with them and get to find out what makes them tick. After picking Dave Mason’s brain for 1-1/2 hours, this is what I learned.
He retired as the Del Norte County Code Enforcement Officer after 25 years. A niche he felt was a perfect fit. It gave him the opportunity to learn how to be fair, firm and consistent and to follow the law. Because there’s nothing as maddening as having laws on the books and not seeing them enforced.
Dave Mason has decided to throw his hat in the ring and run for District 4 Supervisor, an area around Lake Earl that encompasses 33 square miles and about 3,000 registered voters.
In a nutshell, he’s got some ideas on improving our area and ideas about eliminating the dysfunction that currently permeates our board of supervisors. We’ll take it a little by little over time and learn what makes up his attitude and mindset.
Growth vs No Growth:
“I’m for sustainable growth, just enough to sustain a healthy community without losing our small-town feel. We need to pick a route to replace Last Chance Grade and get it built. The jobs and industry will come to this town once 1/2 dozen things are taken care of. I’m for increasing tourism, dealing with the homeless issues and law and order.”
The man doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Recreational cannabis is not high on his priority list when considering all the other issues affecting this community; Prop. 64 passed and is now the law.
Now let’s get into the weeds as it were. What has to happen in order to bring in industry and create more jobs?
Dave says we first have to address these:
1. “Crime. No one wants to move to a place, start up a business and have to worry about petty theft, burglary and vandalism going on. The County needs a comprehensive crime prevention program.”
2. “Blight and decay. Clean-up has to continue and a second code enforcement officer is sorely needed along with an increase in the budget line item currently at $14,500 which should be increased to $25,000.”
I asked him he could foresee volunteers being a part of the solution. He replied, “Volunteers are great when the problem is on public lands, or on private lands and the owner is agreeable. There are legal issues when the owner is not agreeable.”
I related a problem is our neighborhood. There’s a 6′ high fence on J Street that the owner was told to remove or cut down to 4′. I don’t know how many years this has been going on, but nothing is ever done. I’m sure my husband and I would volunteer to cut it down to 4’…. but then there could be problems with Workman’s Compensation should an accident occur, a problem with lawsuits in case the owner or tenant objects. So, volunteering may be problematic.
3.) “Infrastructure. With Last Chance Grade and Hwy 199 problems that have yet to be solved. When last chance grade fails, and it’s only a matter of time, you can say goodbye to trucks in and out of our area. That eliminates manufacturers moving here and setting up shop because they need parts/materials trucked in and finished product trucked out. You can’t use the Harbor to ship becauses its not deep enough for cargo ships. That leaves us with the airport which has problems because the runway is not long enough and cannot take the weight of the average cargo plane.”
“An easy solution to these highway issues is to get the environmentalists involved before decisisons are made, not after. They are much less likely to file lawsuits to stop the project if they helped design it in the first place. Keep in mind that turning Del Norte into another Los Angeles is not the goal. The goal is economic growth sufficient to fund a clean, safe, and enjoyable community. “
I responded by saying, “Brilliant.”
Dave explained how he was able to spend 25 years successfully on the job, “One of the things that really helped me as a code enforcement officer was my ability to talk to people and build consensus. The trick is being able to leave personalities outside the negotiating room, and focus on the issues to find common ground.”
Then to finish up our first interview, he left with this sage advice: “The most important thing is we have to have a vision of where we want to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years; and goals on how to get there. Without that, we will continue to go day by day, hand to mouth. Reacting to problems and crisis as they occur, never making any real progress.”