All three candidates for District 2 Inyo County Supervisor were represented in one form or another Thursday, speaking before a full room at the Bishop Chamber Luncheon at Whiskey Creek.
Incumbent Susan Cash was unable to attend, but sent prepared comments read by a surrogate, Public Lands Access Advocates member Dick Noles. Cash emphasized her 20 years as a Bishop resident, and pointed to her success in work with the Forest Service on the area’s Travel Management Plan, and the passage of AB 628, a significant Inyo County off-highway vehicle recreation bill to add to the area’s trails system. “I wasn’t sure how, but I knew we could change state law, and we did,” Cash wrote. She also talked about her involvement with Digital 395, part of a “group that put together the plan.” Goals for the future included pursuing more FAA grants for Bishop Airport improvements. Cash also said that Inyo County ranks number 2 out of 58 counties in “net asset value per capita,” making it one of the most fiscally stable counties in the state.
Challenger Russ Aldridge, a Director with the Owens Valley Contractors Association and owner of his own plumbing and heating business, also talked about plans for the Bishop Airport, but his ideas were much loftier, focusing on getting runways repaired and bringing in an airline to “open new avenues for tourism.” He also mentioned ideas for enticing business to come to the county, instead seeing it leave for Nevada or Arizona, proposing a mix of tax breaks and permit considerations for starting up business and putting up new buildings. Aldridge was also animated when speaking of the “water wars” between Bishop and the Owens Valley and the LA Department of Water and Power. “This needs to be dealt with and have a nail put in this coffin once and for all,” Aldridge said.
He also said a proposed new County building at the Hwy 6 and U.S. 395 junction was a bad idea, instead preferring to spend such money sprucing up existing buildings and working on Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
Challenger Jeff Griffiths, a current Bishop City Councilman, also mentioned Digital 395, and talked about the future beyond just the importance of the infrastructure portion of it. “It’s what we do with it that’s important … creating 21st century jobs, technology jobs, high-paying jobs,” Griffiths said. He went on to say that collaborating with the private sector, the business community public and private organizations, can accomplish a lot without having the City used as a sole source of funding during economically difficult times. He cited the entirely private sector funded Bishop Dog Park project as an example.
He lamented the partisan bickering that he thinks characterizes Sacramento and Washington, D.C., but said, “That doesn’t have to be us,” instead advocating a community-government partnership and working together for common good.