On the Issues

Public Safety

The most important service the County can provide, is Public Safety. That is my number 1 priority. We need to know we are safe in our homes and in our community. That starts with a dynamic program run by our Sheriff.

The other piece is our Fire Department. The layer the County has control over, is the contract with Cal-Fire to man and operate our county owned stations and equipment. They also oversee our volunteer firefighters. Together they do much more than fight fires. They are our first responders for medical aid and traffic accidents. For decades the County has relied on the volunteers to cover most of the calls and augment response with the few full time firefighters. Times have changed and there are not enough volunteers. We must shift to a full time staff as the primary responders. Volunteers still will play a vital role.

The County has 17 fire stations and few are manned 24/7. None of them are staffed with the standard 4 full time positions. Some stations don’t have sleeping quarters and some stations are so old new trucks can’t fit inside.

Just $6.3 Million is spent on our contracted fire service and that has not changed much for decades. A quality program that includes updating our stations and equipment and staffs all our stations with 4 full time firefighters needs $20 Million a year.

The current Board of Supervisors has created a crisis and now is asking for a 1% raise in sales tax to generate about $5-6 Million annually. This is a start but I will be pushing hard to fund the department for what it needs. The County Budget increase by 13% about $32 Million and the fire department got crumbs. This must change.

Drinking Water

This is the most complex subject there is because of all the regulation by State and Federal agencies. Ownership of the water is a huge issue. The weather is also another huge variable. My goal is to do several things. First, protect every property owner’s right to pump water from the ground below them without being run over by regulations. Next, water is not necessarily pure and free of contaminates when drawn from the ground. We must find cost effective ways to filter water and make it safe to drink. Last, I will be working with agencies that control the management of water resources to help create a fair and effective program to supply the needs of our community.

The Board of Supervisors are also the Directors of the County run Special Districts. These Districts belong to the residents and the County needs to pay careful attention to the needs of the residents. There must be operational transparency. I will make sure the motto of “Service” is part of the culture in the department.

Tree Mortality

This is an awful result of mismanagement of our forest and the drought. Half of our trees will die and most are already gone. What is left is the extreme hazard that will be with us for years. The fire danger if off the scale. Every dead tree will fall down and all we can do now is to manage what happens when the tree falls. There is no way to cut down 66 Million trees. A number of agencies are working with limited funds to protect public infrastructure like power lines, roads, campgrounds and public buildings but that is not enough. Some residents have benefited by the removal of trees that threaten power lines as PG&E has removed them for free. But that is not enough. Residents throughout the area need financial help to remove the trees on their property. This is a disaster and I will work to make funds available to residents for tree removal.

Representation

Supervisors are supposed to serve the community. It can only be done by listening.

I will hold town hall meeting with the primary purpose to hear what you have to say, your issues, your questions. This is far different than how Supervisor Wheeler does them.

Please fill out the Community Survey so I can know what is important to you.The County needs to treat the residents with respect and dignity they deserve. I will restore this and bring “service” back to the job.

Our Rural Way Of Life

We chose to live here, to get out of the city and I want to protect our rural communities’ lifestyle. We need some basic services to help us thrive. A couple items are; the return of a 24/7 urgent care facility and other expanded medical service that include a surgical out patient center or even a small hospital. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small department store back in the mountains. We passed the college district bond so in the near future a new campus will be built somewhere in Oakhurst, but where will those new students stay and will there be jobs for them. I want to protect and improve our main highway artery, Hwy 41. It needs to become safer to travel and not become congested. I want to start a discussion about what the community should look like in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. It’s our community and we can set its destiny.

Medical Services

The mountain community lacks medical services. Recently a long running medical practice has closed down. We lost the urgent care facility in Oakhurst. Most people must travel to Fresno for care. I hear stories about people moving away because they need to be close to doctors and hospitals. I see this as a big issue that needs a lot of attention. I have some ideas but want to engage the community in a discussion as how we can solve this.

New Ideas

Here are just a few ideas that I would bring to the County.

Transparency is very important and it needs to be increased. Board of Supervisors meeting agenda needs to be expanded to include the Who, What, Where, and Why. There is just too little information published for the public to know what the issues about. Every Supervisor needs to disclose conflicts of interest and relationships with individuals involved in the subject.

The Agenda should be published on the Monday the week before the meeting so that here is time for the community to digest and ask questions well before the meeting. Important issues that have a significant effect on a neighborhood or community should be placed in the newspaper.

More effort needs to be made to explain the legal or policy process that support an issue brought before the Board of Supervisors.

A new décorum needs to be established during meetings when community members to speak about issues. More time to speak, no more interruptions.

Streamline certain building inspection process to allow for self certification. Simple items such as; water heater, air-conditioning, block walls, fences, roof repairs and other items should not need on site inspections by a county inspector. A cheap self certified inspection process could be designed to allow a licensed contractor and property owner to sign off the inspection.

Open a simple office/meeting room in the District where any county staff member could use it to meet with the residents to work on an issue.

More Community meetings to cover specific issues like water & sewer (special districts), tree mortality, public safety and any specific project. Town hall meetings should include time for the community to ask questions and voice opinions.

I want to work with the local news outlets to publish a bi-weekly column to inform the public about what is going on in the district and county. It would also be an opportunity to explain government process and laws that affect all of us. I see it as a way to reach out on a regular basis to cause a conversation about issues and a way for me to receive your feedback.