By Donna Westfall – March 2, 2018 – In 2006 when Gerry Hemmingsen first ran for supervisor, he declared in the Triplicate that, “He’ll work for all of us.” Here is what he said he supported:
- The need to attract and keep qualified physicians in DN County.
- Improvement of our local roads and Hwy 101 and 199.
- Economic development and airport expansion.
- Keeping areas of Kellogg Beach and Tolowa Dunes open for recreation.
- Creating jobs so our kids don’t have to leave to find work.
It’s been almost 12 years since he said he supported the above items. Now he
wants you to vote for him for another term, so lets see how he did on those things he supported more than a decade ago.
(1) Hemmingsen said we needed to keep qualified physicians in Del Norte County. Since March, 2015 the number of physicians practicing in our county has declined dramatically. The Triplicate points out that in 2004 there were 61 physicians in Del Norte County, compared to just 31 physicians in 2015. In addition, just recently we lost Dr. Davis and Dr. Polidore.
So how did Hemmingsen do on his support of attracting and keeping qualified physicians in our County? Well, according to the Triplicate, we have lost 50% of the practicing physicians causing them to write, “Del Norters are 37 percent more likely to die than Californians as a whole…”
On Hemmingsens support of attracting and keeping qualified physicians in Del Norte County we give him a very failing grade of “F.”
(2) On the second point of improvement of our local roads and Hwy 101 and 199 expansion, let’s examine how Hemmingsen did. Over a decade ago he advocated for improvements to both of our major highways and yet has been unsuccessful to put forth those improvements that would increase traveling safety on both roads. The improvements to Hwy 101 that he advocated for have gone nowhere. In the last 10 years we have lost significant footage of that highway that it is down to one lane in many areas. Here we are almost 12 years after he was first elected and we are no closer to getting the funds to building a bypass to this road than we were then. When other supervisors suggested that the bypass could be done in five years and looked for support from board members, Hemmingsen said he was against it. When we analyze the improvements to Hwy 199, we find that there have been no significant improvements since he was elected to the board in 2006.
On Hemmingsen’s support of improvement of our local roads and Hwy 101 and 199 expansion, we give him a very failing grade of “F.”
(3) On the third point of Economic development and airport
expansion, you be the judge. Economic development has been a complete
failure. I count close to 80 local businesses who are no longer in business in our county. In 2006 when Hemmingsen was first elected, there were 10,080 jobs. In 2015, the latest date for the figures, there are 9,070 jobs here, a loss of over a thousand jobs during Hemmingsens tenure on the board. Taking a look at per capita income, the income for California as a whole is $50,000. For Del Norte County, it is $34,000. Median household income for California is $61,689, while in Del Norte County it is $38,181. The only positive for Del Norte County is the poverty rate which stands at 22.4% while in the rest of California, it’s 16,4%. Yes, there is significantly more poverty in our county. You would think that Hemmingsen as a fisherman, would be looking out for the fishing industry, but that’s not the case.
In 2006 the value of commercial fish landed here was $22,800,000.
As of the last figures available in 2014, the value of fish landed is $12,800,000, a decline of 44%.
Statistics provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
On Hemmingsens support of economic development, we give him a very failing grade of “F.”
(4) On Hemmingsens support for keeping areas of Kellogg Beach and Tolowa Dunes open for recreation. This was a big issue in the 2006 election. The portions of Kellogg beach that is owned for State Parks does not allow open recreation use and Tolowa Dunes State Park does not allow off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. 12 years ago Hemmingsen was all for keeping those areas open, but they are still closed.
On Hemmingsens support of keeping Kellogg Beach and Tolowa Dunes open for recreation, we give him a very failing grade of “F.”
(5) On Hemmingsens support for creating jobs so our kids don’t have to leave to find work. Many of our younger folks would like to work in construction yet construction jobs have declined severely. In 2006 Del Norte had 536 construction jobs. As of 2014 according to the US Department of Commerce, our county had 339 jobs. That’s a 35% decline. During that same period, construction earnings declined 33%. If that were not enough, the period from 2006 through 2014 saw a decline of 80% in home building permits issued by the county.
Statistics from the California Home Builders Foundation. The obvious conclusion is that more, not fewer, kids are leaving Del Norte County to find work.
On Hemmingsens support of creating jobs so our kids don’t have to leave to find work, we give him a very failing grade of “F.”
In 2006 when he was elected, he said he would work for all of us. As you can see, he has failed in everything he said he supported. In an ad in the Triplicate, he said this, “I’ll work hard for you by working with other members of the Board, not against them.” Yet in almost every instance he has been combative, degrading and disrespectful with other members of the board and insulting their motives, even calling well thought out arguments from other board members as outrageous.
Now he wants you to hire him for another four years. You have to decide if you can stand another four years of failure on this board.