The Boston Red Sox, Clouds McCloud and the June 8 Huskyfest Golf Tournament fundraiser (call 760.914.2380 for more information).
But back to the final weekend of the campaign. Attended the final Mammoth Lakes Town Council candidate forum on Tuesday and then co-hosted a forum with Brent Truax for County Supervisor candidates on Wednesday at Rafters.
Shields Richardson won the night handily on Tuesday with Karen Sibert running second to California Chrome. Even off his game, I’d say Wentworth was third. Fernie and Pierrel sat next to each other, asked each other questions, gave long answers qualifying the qualifiers to their remarks … they were more like a Ferrel.
And the evening definitely could have used a Ferrel – a Will Ferrell.
While Cleland Hoff and Elena Blomgren share many of Sibert’s political views, Sibert has emerged as the leading anti-establishment candidate because she does a better job at articulating her views in a public setting.
I found the most interesting exchange of the night occurred between Wentworth and Sibert during the part where candidates were offered the opportunity to ask each other questions.
Wentworth asked Sibert about her comments at a previous forum regarding the use of Measure R funds – a forum at which Sibert suggested the community should have a conversation about whether to use some Measure R monies to fund recreation programs now supported by the General Fund.
Yes, she brought up the dreaded notion of using R to “supplant” what have been considered existing General Fund obligations.
And Sibert replied, and I’ll paraphrase here because I don’t have the exact quote, Why do we argue about [funding] Whitmore Pool every year? I thought that’s what I was voting for [when voting for R].
In short, Sibert thinks it’s a bit absurd to get religious about R while pools and parks and the like are threatened with starvation.
And she’s got a point here in terms of intent. Yes, the leaders and the lawyers can try to tell you what you voted for, or what your intent was, but … that doesn’t mean their interpretation is correct.
While Wentworth acknowledged that a lot has changed since 2008 and 2010 and that Measures R and U would likely not pass in today’s environment, we knew about the airport judgment in 2008 and passed R anyway, passed it knowing full well of the financial challenges which lay ahead. Or, more likely, perhaps we knew full well in 2008 but didn’t have the heart to accept the reality at that time.
Richardson won the debate as much for how he was perceived as for what he said. Seemingly every question from the audience was directed at him – as though he’s already acknowledged to have the stature of a Councilmember before he’s even been elected. And his answers on the home rental issue and Sam’s Wood Site parcel were measured and middle-of-the-road.
Sibert’s other score came during the quick-response section, as she was the only candidate who said she’d vote against the TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) if the vote were held today. Why can’t some of these other candidates figure out that in an eight-way race, taking a contrarian position might bolster their chances? A Gentlemen’s 4th does a candidate no better than a distant last.
But here’s my dilemma with Karen. She just comes off as a career bureaucrat. On the Wood Site question (should the Town purchase the Wood Site parcel?), she answered something to this effect: Geez, you know, I don’t think I could justify spending money on that when our employees have made so many sacrifices recently. They really need to be supported (given a raise?) first. And the police need a new facility, and that’s more important, too.
With all due respect to Karen, the employees shouldn’t be getting raises until the local business community gets them first. That’s a non-starter for me in terms of prioritization.
Pierrel had a pretty interesting observation regarding Tuesday. She thought it not-so-coincidental that the three establishment candidates (Wentworth, Richardson, Fernie) backed publicly by the Fifty Center, Elizabeth Tenney and others all seem to have been tipped off about the segment where candidates could ask each other questions. All three, interestingly, had a question for a fellow female candidate.
Other than Pierrel, none of the women chose to ask questions of their fellow candidates.
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
I saw that Shields Richardson and Colin Fernie finally got their campaign signs up this week.
The message on Shields’ sign says “The drive to get things done. The experience to do it right.”
And you can hardly read it, because there’s not enough room on the sign to make it the proper font, and he’s got a picture on there too which you can’t really see too well. So I drove by and laughed and thought, “The drive to get things done last. The experience to do it half-ass.”
And then there’s Colin’s sign. A big COLIN you can read, but you can’t really read the tagline. So I stopped the car and my daughter got out for a closer look. “A vote for the next generation” she reported back.
Of course it’s a vote for the next generation, I thought. Anyone over thirty doesn’t have the eyesight to read it.
But you know, maybe Shields and Colin are simply proponents of the “feet-first, pedestrian-friendly” concept and are simply wooing the influential pedestrian vote.
At the County forum Wednesday, I moderated District 5 while Traux took District 1.
Stealing a page from Tuesday’s moderator Tom Cage, I had a few quick-hitter questions prepared, and I did think the answers were somewhat illuminating. When asked how they would rate the job performance of outgoing District 5 Supervisor Byng Hunt on a 1-10 scale, Eckert and Stapp both gave Hunt a 3. Corless gave him an 8.
When asked how they would rate the job performance of Gov. Jerry Brown, Stapp said 4, Eckert said 6 and Corless said 10.
When asked to name the sitting Supervisor or Town Council candidate they admired most, Stapp and Eckert chose Tim Alpers; Corless went with Fred Stump – a surprise to me, as Hunt has endorsed Corless to succeed him.
Stapp hammered Hunt for what he considered the fiasco of redistricting in 2010, where Mammoth only ended up with two dedicated seats on the board.
Corless defended Hunt for his leadership on wilderness issues.
Reporter Angela Evans mostly covered the other room. These are her notes:
Brent Truax moderated the debate between District 1 candidates Larry Johnston and Bill Sauser. Truax began by questioning Sauser’s read of his current campaign, considering he lost the election four years ago byjust five votes. Sauser said District 1 is “the toughest district to walk. They’re working three jobs. They’re busy. [Politics] just isn’t what they are looking for,” he said.
About the redistricting after the 2010 Census, Johnston said “I don’t think it’s a big issue. We’d be spinning our wheels to redistrict.” Although he opposed the redistricting when it was put to a vote by the Board of Supervisors, Johnston reasoned that there really should still be three votes representing Mammoth since Tim Alper’s district is 60% in Mammoth.
Sauser said the redistricting occurred to “the detriment of the representation of Mammoth.” He also said, “we don’t have to wait,” to get redistricted, proposing a citizen driven petition calling for another vote about redistricting. Although he later said he wasn’t going to do it, but that citizens had the option.
The question of Bank of America leaving Mammoth after it had already left Bridgeport, led to a greater question of business loss in Mono County.
Johnston is a proponent of local businesses filling the void for corporate vacancies, much like Eastern Sierra Community Bank has done with Bank of America. He championed Digital 395 saying that it will help tech industry to the County and proposed the creation of industrial properties.
Sauser rebutted, saying that Digital 395 is a great addition to the County but will only help single individuals needing the high speed access to move here and not larger tech companies. He said the cost of living is so high that companies won’t want to pay for their employees to live in Mammoth. Instead he focused on raising transient occupancy by increasing the County’s marketing to tourism and guests.
Towards the end of the debate, Johnston asked Sauser his own question: “How are you going to solve budget issues?” Johnston listed out a series of proposals, including redeveloping the strategic plan, proactive attrition (not re-hiring for positions left vacant by retirement or layoffs), and cutting the number of county vehicles. He defended the Board’s use of budget reserves, asking: “Why have a reserve, if you’re never going to use it?” He also reminded the audience of the decrease in Supervisors salaries since 2010 and the decrease in the number of county employees.
Sauser responded that there is a need for cuts across the board, analyzing the level of service in each county department. He said that blanket attrition is not the answer because “you could lose people in the wrong places.” He said the Board needs to be saving money towards the $60 million in unfunded liabilities, instead of spending reserves.
Interestingly, Johnston proposed greater collaboration between the Mono County Sheriff’s Department and MLPD. He suggested patrol exchanges wherein the Sheriff’s Dept. help Mammoth during the busy winter season and MLPD help the Sheriff’s Department during the busier summer.