While the numbers point to a Bob Peters victory in the Mono County District 4 Supervisor’s race on Tuesday, my gut tells me that Tim Fesko has a very good shot at pulling the upset.
In the June primary, Peters beat Fesko 308-281. Jan Huggans was third with 127 votes.
However, Mammoth voter turnout was just 38% in June, likely diminished by the lack of a Town Council election.
In Mammoth, Peters trounced Fesko by a near two-to-one margin, garnering 60% of the Mammoth vote.
Extrapolating a doubling of that voter turnout would appear to give Peters an unbeatable edge.
But Peters acknowledges he hasn’t walked the Mammoth portion of District 4 since the primary season, while Fesko has been working the neighborhoods hard of late, going door-to-door. As Fesko said this week, “I’ve pretty much knocked on every door in the district.”
Fesko, in my mind, also appeared the more energetic of the two at a candidate’s forum I attended earlier this fall in Bridgeport. That forum represented an Obama-Romney Debate #1 moment of sorts for me, where the star-crossed challenger (Fesko had been dogged by controversies regarding the filing of his candidate papers and a lawsuit with his brother) suddenly transformed himself into a viable contender.
Lunch aside: One thing I learned this week which I hadn’t quite realized – when districts were redrawn in 2010, I accepted on faith the assessment that Mammoth comprises 23% of the District 4 voting population. In fact, Mammoth comprises 31% of the District 4 vote.
I spoke to each candidate one more time this week to get their final, best pitches.
In a nutshell, Peters is running on temperament, experience and county service – the steady hand whom you know. As Peters said, “A supervisor is required to work with people who don’t necessarily agree with him … I feel he [Fesko] is antagonistic. He’s not a team player.”
Sheet: So you don’t think Fesko has changed?
Peters: I don’t believe so.
Peters is supportive of the commercial airline subsidy for Mammoth. And in regard to the controversial Bodie Hills issue, Peters believes the WSAs (Wilderness Study Areas) should be released and the area open to recreation, sustainable (solar) energy use and mineral extraction – “just so long as they play by the rules,” he said. “I don’t think Fesko’s ever taken a position on this,” he added.
Peters also referenced a series of meetings he’s helping facilitate, at the behest of Supervisor Hap Hazard, next week between CSAC (California State Association of Counties), State Air Resources Board representatives and the North County ranching community. He says the state is in the process of writing new air quality rules that would cause county ranchers and farmers to have to potentially upgrade and replace diesel vehicles at considerable expense. Peters believes the seasonal use of such vehicles should merit Mono County a small county exemption.
This is just one example, says Peters, of how he gets things done when called upon.
Peters also believes he would be the voice of the whole district, not just the Antelope Valley.
While there’s no doubt, he said, that the North County is somewhat resentful of Mammoth’s role as the County’s primary economic engine, enmity is unproductive. It’s not about prioritizing one group or another, he said. “It’s about helping everyone do better … we need more tourism everywhere, whether it be Walker or Mammoth.”
When I bounced Peters assessment of his character off Fesko, he replied simply, “That’s nonsense.”
“Sure, I’m not a go-along, get-along guy,” said Fesko, “but I can work with people on things. You don’t get to be 53 having had some success in business without getting along with people.”
He pointed to consensus reached at the RPAC (Regional Planning Advisory Committee) level regarding the Mountain Gate development south of Walker as evidence of his ability to work with others and find solutions.
“I learned something from two years ago [when Fesko was defeated by Tim Hansen in a previous run for the District 4 seat]. It’s not just about listening to people. It’s about hearing people,” said Fesko.
As for his opposition to the commercial airline subsidies at Mammoth Yosemite Airport, Fesko says he realizes his principles may cost him some votes, but “government should not subsidize individual businesses” – especially, he added, a business that’s getting guaranteed cost plus 20 [percent profit]. In his conversations with Mammoth residents, Fesko believes Mammoth is split fifty-fifty on the airline subsidy issue.
As an example of leadership, Fesko brought up the Reno Outdoor Sport Show which took place last March.
The Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce didn’t want to do the show, but Fesko proposed that if they’d cover the cost of a booth, he would man it for the Eastern Sierra ATV/UTV Jamboree.
Fesko said the event was an incredible success, and that he gave away two cases of Mono County Visitors Guides in the space of two days. Many ATV users from the Reno area, he said, did not know that there was so much terrain available to them just 1.5 hours to the south.
According to Fesko, this year’s success has prompted the Mono County Tourism Dept. to also consider doing the show next year.
Which leads to an issue which the candidates have disagreed on – where to focus marketing dollars?
As Peters says, while Fesko believes we need to market to Northern Nevada to stimulate the economy, our major market is Southern California. “While Northern Nevada is perhaps more important to the Antelope Valley, as a County, you have to talk about Southern California first,” he said.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t target Southern California,” replies Fesko, “but we’ve neglected targeting tourism dollars in other areas.”
“There is life north of Lee Vining,” he said with a grin.
A few brief observations from the week: 1.) If you’re looking at Halloween costumes as a sign of current trends, I had Spiderman over Mario 8-4 among Mammoth Elementary kindergartners. 2.) The scuttle from the Bishop Chamber of Commerce event held at Karma Restaurant in the Value Sports mall had Pestmaster moving its corporate offices from Bishop to Reno, an exodus rumored to be due to California’s oppressive business climate.