Barbs fly in District 3 Nevada County supes race (VIDEO) |

Barbs fly in District 3 Nevada County supes race (VIDEO)

Two Nevada County District 3 supervisor candidates accused each other of mishandling events around the Dorsey Drive interchange project and traded other barbs and allegations in separate interviews with The Union.

Incumbent Terry Lamphier, seeking re-election to a second term in the June 3 election, said his challenger, Grass Valley Mayor Dan Miller, used public monies that were supposed to be for street and sidewalk repairs to finance the interchange project that will ultimately benefit a private developer.

"I have a problem with how Dan does business," Lamphier said in a videotaped interview with the Union that accompanies this article. "He is just for the big guys, not for the community at large."

Miller, however, said Lamphier never raised any questions about anything in the entire project until after Miller announced his candidacy for the county seat and that Lamphier's spin does not reflect the reality of what was actually happening.

He said the interchange idea, in discussion for 40 years, leveraged monies that were in danger of being confiscated by the state to build what will be one of the most important transportation improvements in western Nevada County.

"This was all done in full public view," Miller said in his videotaped interview. "If Mr. Lamphier would have been engaged, he would have seen it, but he was not."

Miller, 66, a four-term Grass Valley city councilman and a small business owner, repeatedly emphasized his strong ties and dedication to the community and his abilities to partner with others as his reason for challenging Lamphier, whom he criticized as a poor communicator.

"I've been elected to city council four times because people trust me," said Miller, who is a registered Republican but who says he is socially moderate and fiscally conservative. "They know where I stand and they know I'll be honest and fair. And my record proves that to be true."

He said Lamphier was "bitter" because he ran for Grass Valley City Council, but was never elected and was "fired" from the Grass Valley Planning Commission.

"It all comes down to representation, relationships," said Miller in explaining his motivation in running for the county office. "What my record is and what I think I can accomplish and what the incumbent can't — and has not."

Lamphier was critical of what he alleged was misuse of public funds by Miller — not only at Dorsey Drive, but also in connection with a development around Nevada County Airport.

"This is the guy who used taxpayers' money to sue the (Nevada County) Airport Commission on behalf of private developers?" said Lamphier, 65, a licensed contractor and a registered Democrat. "He didn't seem to have a problem with that."

Miller said a lawsuit was filed because it was necessary in order to establish parameters for making runway improvements required for safety issues around the airport.

"Not one dime of taxpayers' money was used for that lawsuit," Miller said. "The lawsuit was paid for by the Getty Trust, which owns Loma Rica Ranch."

He said the project was also important because it will allow for a sewer system to businesses in the airport area.

Lamphier disagreed with Miller's assessment of his accomplishments in office.

Lamphier said he has achieved numerous successes in bringing together residents and resources, such as extending a state bill for cottage industries into Nevada County.

The bill, which allows people to run a business selling home-cooked food out of their homes, stimulated the creation of between eight and 12 new county businesses, Lamphier said.

Lamphier said he also helped win a $50,000 grant for a feasibility study on building a biomass generator similar to one in place in Truckee.

Both candidates for the nonpartisan county position agree that attracting and creating better-paying jobs is the No. 1 priority in District 3. The supervisor's position pays about $39,000 annually plus $2,000 more for the person who is appointed chair.

"This community is characterized by boom and bust cycles — that's not a healthy way," said Lamphier, who said he supports "sustainable economic development" and "smart growth."

Miller agreed.

"We have a declining population, we have an aging population," Miller said. "And we have a junior college sitting in the middle of District 3 that provides us with an educated workforce, but we don't have any jobs for them."

Both men are engaged in supporting high-speed Internet access, exploring biomass opportunities and in protecting District 3 natural resources, such as Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Both candidates support access to medical marijuana for people who are ill. Miller said he opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use; Lamphier said he would support recreational use if strict controls could be put in place to prevent access for children and if the county could recoup tax dollars.

On campaign financing, Lamphier has already publicly responded to allegations of conflict of interest regarding a $5,000 contribution he received in September 2013 from Carol Young, developer of Rincon del Rio, an active senior community planned for South County.

As reported in The Union and as reiterated by Lamphier in the videotaped interviews, the county supervisors voted to approve the project in April 2013, five months before the contribution.

Lamphier said he voted in favor of the project because developers added features to make it what Lamphier said was "smart growth" — solar energy, river access, infrastructure and improvements.

Last summer, neighbors filed a lawsuit against the county seeking to stop the project; the lawsuit was settled in November, and the development is going forward.

According to Nevada County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green, the suit was negotiated by lawyers and the supervisors were not involved in any significant way.

Miller, in his videotaped interview, said he received the same offer but was not comfortable with the idea of accepting a $5,000 contribution from Young because it would make him feel "tainted" if he were elected supervisor and the project came before him later for modifications.

"I wouldn't want to feel obligated," he said.

Miller said Young mentioned the offer in passing at a barbecue on Sept. 29, but she never followed through.

Miller said he didn't respond at the time but decided later that he wouldn't accept it. He said he passed along the message that he would not accept the contribution through an "intermediary."

Young, contacted in a follow-up phone call, said she didn't recall making a contribution offer to Miller. She said she contributed money to the Nevada County Contractors Association political action committee and that they were free to make any campaign contributions they deemed appropriate from that amount.

According to Barbara Bashall, executive director for the Nevada County Contractors Association, Young contributed $7,500 to the political action committee, of which $5,000 went to District 4 Supervisor Hank Weston's re-election campaign.

The committee did not make any contributions to Miller's campaign, but they did host a fundraiser for Miller and are considering running some newspaper ads for him, Bashall said.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

District 3 Nevada County Supervisor Race

Name: Terry Lamphier

Age: 65

Current city: Grass Valley (since early 2000s); (before that, bought two properties in Nevada County and restored them)

Hometown: Finger Lakes region of New York State; 20 years in the East Bay Area

Occupation: Incumbent Dist. 3 Nevada County Supervisor, elected in 2010; running for second term; Licensed contractor, ran his own contracting business

Education: Sierra College

Political: Registered Democrat, but is open to other parties’ philosophies.

Family: Divorced, in a long-term relationship of eight years; one son, one step-son.


Name: Dan Miller

Age: 66

Current city: Grass Valley (Nevada County since 1962)

Hometown: Mountain View

Occupation: Mayor of Grass Valley (currently in fourth, four-year term on City Council)

(Past: Grass Valley Planning Commission; Nevada Union High School District board of trustees)

Co-owner of Future Generations baby items retail store on Mill Street in Grass Valley

Education: Nevada Union H.S.; Sierra College; Sacramento State, bachelor’s degree in journalism

Political: Registered Republican, socially moderate, fiscally conservative.

Family: Married, wife Roxanne runs the store; three children; four grandchildren



1. Given the controversy over the Dorsey Drive interchange and the potential for major development there, how would you balance the need for economic growth with some people’s wish to preserve a small-town, rural atmosphere?

Lamphier: Supports current zoning at Dorsey Drive, corporate business park, because it would allow research and development, light industrial to create higher paying jobs. If you put a shopping center in there, requires zoning change, typically that would be chain stores, minimum wage. Tempting to look at sales tax revenue, but minimum wage jobs then can lead to people having to get food stamps or public assistance to close the gap, that’s a burden on taxpayers. More tax revenue, but more demand for taxpayer services.

Miller: Supports attracting and creating more higher paying, skilled jobs that a family can live on, such as high tech. Whatever is done at Dorsey Drive will have to fit in with that idea. There is a proposal for retail, but don’t want to threaten existing businesses. After conceptual review comes back, will be lot of public input. Supports working with Economic Resource Council and other groups and find a good mix, light industrial and retail, but not low-paying retail jobs that won’t provide enough income for a family.

2. Where do you stand on lobbying the state to save and maintain Empire Mine State Historic Park?

Lamphier: Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for cleaning up toxic waste from mining. Newmont Mining Corp. should have to pay. State needs to get the lawsuit issue resolved. Supports keeping a close eye on what’s happening with legislative subcommittees. Drafted letter opposing the sale of the park that was approved April 22 by county board to send to state lawmakers.

Miller: Drafted a resolution, placed on City Council agenda, opposes any sale or transfer of park. Sent to governors office, legislators, state parks. Opposes sale of park: not only national landmark but also part of history of California, history of Nevada County. Plans to testify at state Legislature budget subcommittee on behalf of the park.

3. What do you see as the most crucial issue in Dist. 3 and in Nevada County, and what would you do about it?

Lamphier: Biggest issue is economy. Very challenging. Growth inevitable and important but must be “smart growth.” That includes creation of higher paying jobs, sustainable economic development instead of boom and bust cycle. Supports solar projects, more focus on broadband, high-speed Internet. Housing developments must have be accompanied by things like jobs, transportation, workforce housing, river access, solar, open space. Realize we have to have growth, but it has to serve our community.

Miller: Biggest issue is jobs. We’re dealing with a declining population, an aging population. We have a junior college sitting in the middle of Dist. 3 that provides us with an educated workforce, but we don’t have any jobs for them. What we need to do to create jobs and attract investors into area is to make sure our infrastructure is in place. One of the advantages of Dorsey Drive interchange is it’s an infrastructure project. High-speed Internet is another big infrastructure issue. Cities and county needs to partner, put together a plan; Economic Resource Council is doing that.