By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – May 12, 2022
The Del Norte Association of Realtors (DNAOR) sponsored the Wednesday District 3 candidate forum at the Crescent Fire Protection District conference room, on Washington Blvd. This was Round 2 for the three candidates vying for the Supervisor seat. Tuesday, candidates Howard, Magarino and Akin squared off in what I understand was a raucous event in Smith River. As I was attending the District 5 forum at the Methodist Church, I was unable to be in physical attendance. Even though the District 5 event was taped, I won’t opine on the Round 1 debate because I was not present to observe some of the subtle aspects on Wednesday’s round two event.
*Incumbent Chris Howard led off with his opening statement touting his accomplishments on the Board, his concern about the erosion of private property rights and his self-praise for lifting the Redwood Curtain.
*Challenger Frank Magarino spoke about his two term tenure as a DNUSD Board Trustee and his career in developing a successful courier service company employing 80 people. Magarino has recently sold his company and promises to be a full-time Supervisor.
*Candidate Joe “Hank” Akin spoke of his 32 year career in public service including his 28 year career as a Lt. Investigator at Pelican Bay and his multi-year service as a Reserve Deputy and Search and Rescue volunteer. Akin is currently Vice-President of the Big Rock Water District in Hiouchi.
Realtor panelists began the question process to the selected candidate with the other two candidates raising a color paddle indicating a comment to the first candidate and an additional retort. The protocol allowed for healthy banter and debate which was stimulating to the audience of 24 who were in attendance. Well done, DNAOR.
Initially, most of the questions understandably were real estate oriented.
A question asking about Del Norte mental health agencies underperforming was directed to candidate Howard who AGAIN reminded the audience the County may face severe fines and penalties if the County fails to embrace State thresholds for providing low income housing and mental health services. Akin responded he has concerns that any State mandate with limited three year wrap around services provided through State-financing, the County is obligated to continue the program when State aid stops. Akin concurred Del Norte County cannot sustain this economic burden.
ANALYSIS: It is concerning and alarming incumbent Howard continues to remind the community of these “threats. ” Candidates Akin and Magarino have a spirt of fight to resist this bullying by Sacramento. Howard appears weak and a willingly complicit agent of the State and succumbs to the strong-arm tactics by Gov. Newsom.
* A question directed to Howard on Del Norte criminal activity was also revealing. Howard declared local law enforcement is handcuffed by State laws, Props 47 and 57 and AB109.
Magarino railed at the surrendering of our community to lawbreakers and vowed to clean up our neighborhoods.
ANALYSIS; Candidate Magarino displays courage and is forthright in his quest to maintain our community public safety. Howard appears weak in standing up for Del Norte.
The question posed by the Realtors on the County acquisition of the Coastal Inn and Suites, providing homeless housing in the newly-named Legacy brought some fireworks to the debate.
Howard touted the success of Legacy and its existence between the 101s and getting people off the street.
Magarino called Legacy a failure, and cited an LA Times article encouraging homeless to move to Del Norte County for wrap around services, housing, and free food.
Magarino stated the housing experiment has “backfired.”
Akin cited there is no revenue stream coming from Legacy and again expressed his concern for the project’s sustainability after the State pulls the three year funding.
ANALYSIS: Magarino made his point very clear when he accused the Board of not consulting stakeholders on this $2.2 million acquisition. The City of Crescent City was never consulted on Legacy. Mayor Jason Greenough protested on site the very day the BOS approved the sale.
* The question of term limits was again posed.
Magarino supports Term Limits for all Supervisors. Magarino cited the continuous empowering of Howard as a politician with special status will enhance his power base, erode democracy and contribute to his continuing to win elections. When the Board discussed Term Limits in 2018, Howard (along with Hemmingsen) introduced an 11th hour “Hail Mary” addition in which ALL then current Supervisors would be exempted from the three term limit, then Howard and Hemmingsen voted NO to term limits.
The matter passed 3-2 with the exemption addition included.Howard remains the only remaining member of the Board exempted.
ANALYSIS:The ethics of Mr. Howard are highly suspect and self-serving. He sheepishly stated he plans to run for only one more term; citing his wife’s disapproval of him running until he loses an election.
If you believe this claim, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.The winner of this debate is Frank Magarino. He displayed courage, common sense and clarity on where he stands on issues important to the community. His core values are intact.
The continuation of Chris Howard for another four years will hurt this community.
Not to be ignored were Howard’s continuous rolling of his eyes at opponents’ comments he disagreed with. This behavior was rude, haughty, condescending and arrogant. The attitude of this elected is reflected with his disdain for the voter and cheerleader for the State.
Akin chimed in, ” What do we need a Board of Supervisors for if Sacramento is going to make our decisions.'”
Frank Magarino. A
Hank Akin. C+
Chris Howard. D
The debate continues Thursday with District. 4 at 6pm at the Fire Hall.