Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking The Fifth: Supe Candidates Face-Off in 1st Forum

Thanks to Wendy Sigmund, publisher of the new Boulder Creek Bulletin, for allowing us to share this account by Valerie White of the Valley Women's Club/League of Women Voters Candidate Forum held last week. If you haven't yet seen the new print publication (the 4th issue is out now) you can find it at most BC merchants. It's chock full of news and info focused on the people and events in Boulder Creek. I was present at the forum and I think Ms White does a credible job of reporting on the event. It is obviously not a verbatim transcript but I think it fairly represents the questions and responses. The account is unedited and first appeared in the April 14th edition of the Boulder Creek Bulletin (Vol 1:4).

Update: Valerie White contacted me and provided her original story which contains a different version of one of Eric Hammer's responses regarding the proposed desal plant in Santa Cruz. The version which went to print could leave the impression that Hammer supports the Santa Cruz Water Dept proposal which is not the case. I've edited the text below to reflect her original account.

Three Candidates For County Supervisor Debate
By Valerie White

Last Wednesday evening, April 11, the three remaining candidates for the 5th District County Supervisor position held a debate at the SLV High School hosted by the Valley Women’s Club.  The auditorium was packed and people were given cards to fill out for questions to ask the candidates. Bill Smallman began by saying that the wrong candidates are being elected and that they are sorely lacking goals.  Mr. Smallman stated that his goal is to create a Board of Economic Development.  Bruce Mc Pherson stated that he had been nominated by Arnold Schwarzenegger for Secretary of State and was voted in unanimously.  He also told us that he has been married for 44 years, and that he was an editor and writer for the Sentinel for 26 years.  Eric Hammer said that he is 43 years old and that he believes he has the skills to unite the three communities in this district. He interacts with the public on a daily basis and employs between one and two hundred people at his construction company.
There was a huge stack of questions and time did not allow for all of them to be asked.
Question #1:  What issue do you feel is the most pressing and how will you address it?
Mc Pherson:  My first priority is the economy.  When I went door to door speaking with people in this community, many people told me they were in imminent danger of losing their homes.   I am concerned that this county has no strategy for helping these people.  Another priority is the protection of our natural resources.  And finally, we need to provide more law enforcement and build and repair roads.  
Hammer:  Hammer: Renewable resources. We have a water shortage and the aquifers are being drained. Santa Cruz is talking about building a desalinization plant and we need to work together for a goal.
Smallman:  Roads need to be fixed not by a tax increase but by better budgeting.  We need to conserve water.  I am against a desalinization plant. We need to restrict growth and sprawl.
Question #2: Would you support funding for a new library in Felton?
Hammer:  Yes. I support the ten branch system.  I do not think a Scott’s Valley library alone can fully serve our community.
Mc Pherson:  Yes.  I signed a 4 cent sales tax designed to be used indefinitely for libraries.  I do not want to close any branches.  If elected I would ask for the Felton Library to be built tomorrow.
Smallman:  Yes.  Libraries serve as a learning center for people who can’t afford computers.  I want to have it built, maintained and supported.
Question#3:  Will you support “safe route to school”?
Hammer:  The route is already planned using People Power.  It will go through downtown Felton and then through the back streets.
Smallman:  I was unaware of this plan.  I am in favor of giving access to bikes, but am concerned about other paths going through environmentally sensitive places.
Mc Pherson:  Children deserve no less.
Question #4:  What happened to the Bike and Hike plan from Boulder Creek to the San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz?
Smallman:  We have to consider the cost.  We need to spend money where it is most needed.  Stick with the path to and from school, but not new recreational paths.
Mc Pherson:  We can make it happen.  It is a difficult task to take on when we need money for other things.  People need to keep their supervisor informed of their top priorities.
Hammer:  It wasn’t dropped completely.  There were road blocks.  Property owners didn’t want access on their properties.  But there is such a thing as eminent domain.
Question #5: How do you envision use to sustain the environment?
Mc Pherson:  We are a slow growth community.  Most people live here because of that.  I have always been very protective of our environmental resources.  I am the vice chairman for the Marine Center in Santa Cruz.  Environmental protection and jobs can work together, and they do.  In 1902 my great-grandfather helped establish Big Basin as a state park.  I am proud to be a Sempervirens member and intend to maintain Castle Rock as a state park.
Smallman:  We need to have civil engineers and scientists creating pristine environments.  The planning department has a big role in that.
Hammer:  We have a spoken and unspoken slow growth mentality.  We are at a point over the next four years that the general plan will be change.  I would like to see those houses that were built in the thirties and forties in this valley repaired and renovated.
Question #6: Do you support water acquisition in Felton?
Hammer:  Yes, Lompico is having issues and residents are reaching out to SLV for support for a merger. SLV wants to be sure there is consensus.  We need to give Zayante and Lompico some help before there is a draught.
Smallman: Five hundred houses were built in Zayante and Lompico with poor planning.  They built their own infrastructure and it eventually broke down.
Mc Pherson: There would have to be an agreement between San Lorenzo and Lompico.  SLV directors seem to be willing to do that, they just don’t want to be left holding the bag.
Question #7: What is the first step to ensure an adequate water supply in the future?
Mc Pherson: The options are limited.  We have a great aquifer, the most pristine water source.  We have the best record of water conservation in the state.  We may have to do it again.  Another good option is to tie in with one another in a cooperative effort.
Hammer:  Conservation, re-evaluating our building practices, making sacrifices.  We need catchment systems on all buildings.  We need pavement that allows water to soak down.  We need to rip up parking lots and repave.  We need to recharge aquifers.
Smallman:  There is a new type of septic treatment tank, but they are expensive.  The county is doing a bad job managing water pollution.  We can build a reservoir in Scotts Valley.
Question #8: What can we do to improve the situation with the Brookdale Lodge?
Smallman:  The owner needs to be forced to sell or have restrictions and time limits placed upon him to get him on a schedule and get the Brookdale Lodge back in business.  We are starting to lose recognition.
Mc Pherson:  We are dealing with private property rights, but the county needs to force the issue.  We need improvements in county practices.  The Brookdale Lodge is a critical element to tourism in the San Lorenzo Valley.  County can press issues to force the owner into action or get him out of there.  
Hammer:  Someone suggested that it might be used for low cost senior housing.  The county needs to be proactive.  We need to talk to the county, start a conversation with the owner, real estate agents and county counsel and put together a team to attract a buyer.
Question #9: Are you in favor of supporting Planned Parenthood?
Smallman, McPherson, Hammer: Yes.
Question #10: Marijuana, how do we insure safe practices?
Smallman:  Renegade pot farms are a real problem in many state parks.  I have suggested that people be given passes to go into parks that are closed to look for them.  Then rangers can be called when they are found.
Mc Pherson:  Different levels of government levels are working against each other.  There is a use for it, but how to make it work for all levels of law enforcement?  It has to start from the top on down.  We don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on something we are going to lose.
Hammer:  We need to impose the same regulations on it as we do for any other thing, such as erosion control.  It is a huge part of this community.  We need to impose environmental protection and code enforcers and give them the resources.
Question #11: What is the most pressing issue and what would you do about it?
Smallman:  Create a Board of Economic Development.  Secondly, road maintenance
Mc Pherson: Provide more law enforcement safety.  Be more accommodating to our local business community to attract and retain businesses.
Hammer: Better law enforcement and fire protection.  Build a satellite police station in Ben Lomond.
Question #12: Women are underrepresented in the County. How would you change this?
Hammer:  Support the Woman’s Commission adopted worldwide with the sole exception of the United States.  We need to empower women in the community, motivate women leaders and make them feel safe.
Smallman: We don’t want to go backwards and be male dominated; we need to move forward.
Mc Pherson:  We need to listen up, men.  Listen to what the women have to say.
Question #13: What is your major point of difference from the other two candidates?
Mc Pherson: I have a proven track record of getting things done, experience that the other two don’t have.  Experience, knowledge and personal contacts.
Hammer:  My biggest strength is local knowledge of what works right here and right now.  I am able to form partnerships.  I am a multi-tasking project manager.  I can listen, I am approachable and I always follow up on what I say I am going to do.
Smallman:  Job development is the answer, the only realistic plan.  I don’t want to make it confusing.  I am here to work hard.  I am not going on endorsements, I am going on message.  

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