By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE -May 13, 2022
Tonight’s District 5 Supervisor forum was exceptional and defining. We’ve featured Dean Wilson’s picture tonight …The Del Norte Association of Realtors formally endorsed former Sheriff Dean Wilson AFTER the debate. Candidates for District 5 followed the same debate format where each candidate received a question and the other four candidates had the opportunity to hold up a color paddle to agree or disagree and render a one minute opinion with the original recipient of the question being given an opportunity to retort.
BRAVO to the Realtors for maximizing exchange and engagement of the candidates.
The candidates in order of presentation were Klamath Chamber president David Jones, Bertch-Oceanview Water Board president David Markel, former Yurok Economic vice-chair Terri Colton, former three-term Del Norte Sheriff Dean Wilson and Govenor Newsom-appointed Supervisor Susan Masten.
The candidates are seeking to complete the last two years of recently-passed away Supervisor Bob Berkowitz.
It is not practical to discuss each and ever Realtor question. I will select certain defining moments and candidates’ responses.
COLTON was queried about the alarming crime rate in Del Norte. She expressed her concern with the lack of more DA prosecutions, disheartening and stated there must be consequences to those who commit crimes. For the record, and in support of COLTON’s claim of the lack of prosecutions, the District Attorney prosecuted 1699 out of 2100 law enforcement complaints, about a 20% rejection rate.
JONES spoke about law enforcement being handcuffed by voter-passed Prop 47 and Prop 57 and Governor-signed AB109, all the above compromising law enforcement efforts to arrest and prosecute felony behavior. JONES suggested seeking ways to “get around ” these challenges.”
WILSON stated when he was Sheriff (2002-2014) there were 142 inmate beds available. 105 beds were utilized and underscored during the Covid period, the Department was compelled to release those arrested, a mandate from Public Health.
MARKEL stated, ” Keep criminals off the street.” He also inquired how to utilize the 48 bed Juvenile Hall.
MASTEN talked about “Restorative Justice” and require those who’ve been convicted of crimes “work off their sentences cleaning up the community.”
COLTON retorted her position of “an eye for an eye” measure of justice.
A Realtor question was directed to candidate JONES for a community shelter for those without home. JONES supports transitional housing with wrap around services including help for the mentally ill.
WILSON supports a designated area with appropriate security and opposes more Government spending which he states, creates more problems.
MASTEN supports assistance which includes entry in Program treatment, job training and successfully exiting the program. MASTEN did not enunciate possible funding for her scaffolding Program.
Realtor question on candidates’ opinion on top three issues facing Del Norte. ALL candidates cited constituent feedback.
WILSON: Crime, Homelessness and designated area for homeless, and funding to sustain these programs
MARKEL: Drug abuse creating chaos.
MASTEN: Public Safety, Youth Services, Mental Health issues.
A Realtor question about separating Del Norte County from the larger population counties centers, WILSON exclaimed Sacramento…” does not give a damn about Del Norte County” and stated his disappointment the Board of Supervisors goes along with Sacramento.
MASTEN spoke about her support in improving connectivity. She was challenged by WILSON for her YUROK support in removing EMS and Law Enforcement antennae from Red Mountain.
JONES and MARKEL concurred.
MASTEN’S retorts disputed the evidence the Red Mountain antennae would compromise emergency communication and cited her deep respect for Yurok Tribal heritage in removing the towers from the Yurok sacred lands.
WILSON retorted the problem has been exacerbated by the U S Forest Service quest to remove all roads to the mountain and convert this property to National Forest.
The question about operations at the Sheriff Department and its need for more money was most interesting and very stimulating.
Candidates JONES, MASTEN and MARKEL all opined the Sheriff’s Department is underfunded and needs more money.
WILSON emphatically and with authority disagreed. “The Dept’s challenge is…”NOT about money. It’s NEVER been amount money.” He praised his deputies and support staff for their dedication to career. WILSON received an applause from the 45 in the audience.
Hands down, DEAN WILSON was the winner of tonight’s Forum. His experience, knowledge of budget and respect in this Community is long-standing and profound .
WILSON – A
MASTEN – C
COLTON – C
JONES – C
MARKEL – C
Absentee ballots have been sent you. You may register to vote through May 23.