The first major public dustup in the already contentious District 3 Nevada County Supervisors race erupted Friday over an unlikely topic – NCTV, Nevada County’s public access television station.
Grass Valley Mayor Dan Miller, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier in the June 3 election, released a statement criticizing Lamphier for declining an interview invitation to be in the station’s new weekday series, “Nevada County Decides 2014.”
According to station manager Cheryl Noble, Lamphier on Monday told her he would have to decline the invitation to be in an election forum segment due to the pressing time demands of running the campaign while also serving as a county supervisor.
“I didn’t read anymore into it,” Noble said Friday. “I can certainly appreciate the time constraints of his job.”
Noble said the station would likely drop the planned group forum segment that would have included both Lamphier and Miller, and just run a 15-minute “Meet Your Candidate” solo interview with Miller.
But Miller, in a press release Friday, accused Lamphier of “ducking” the forum because “when accomplishments are lacking, incumbents tend to avoid candidate forums.
“I understand the dynamic, but I’m nevertheless disappointed in Terry,” Miller said.
Lamphier retorted in his own press release Friday that the issues facing District 3 were too complex to fit into “abbreviated sound bites” as he anticipated would be the case on the show.
He said the station could have gotten a better portrayal of the issues by filming the League of Women Voters forum on March 27, but the station had to cancel its planned broadcast due to equipment issues.
“In the coming weeks, I and my fellow supervisors will be making some very important and far-reaching ordinance decisions affecting fire safety and public events, as well as doing further work on our housing update and medical marijuana,” Lamphier said in the statement. “Between these important matters and campaign work, I have very little free time.
“The unfortunate lack of coverage of the League of Women Voters debates by NCTV deprived the community of one of the few independent and well-moderated opportunities for the general public to learn about their candidates in an unbiased fashion,” he added.
“The brevity of typical debate formats do not lend themselves to thorough examination of very complex matters, and abbreviated sound bites do not serve the public,” Lamphier said.
Both Lamphier and Miller will be featured in print and video in The Union in an election package scheduled for April 25. In the video interviews, taped this week, both candidates have gone into detail on numerous issues, including the Dorsey Drive interchange, medical marijuana, campaign contributions and allegations of poor communication and misuse of taxpayers money.
Miller, meanwhile, said in the release that if Lamphier was not comfortable with the NCTV format, he would be willing to “participate in a forum wherever the incumbent feels more at ease.”
“Assuming for the moment that the volunteers at NCTV are willing to tape a forum at a location more appealing to Terry, I will let him name the time and place – and I will be there,” he said. “I don’t care where we meet, but ducking a forum is not the sort of thing voters expect from their elected leaders – District 3 deserves better.”
Lamphier said it was important to have some depth of media coverage to understand the issues.
“Trying to explain, for example, the history of Grass Valley City Council’s flawed decisions — under Mayor Dan Miller’s leadership — regarding the dissolution of its Redevelopment Agency assets, is very convoluted,” Lamphier said.
“Suffice to say that minority votes given by RDA Oversight Board members Donna Fitting and myself have continually been upheld by the State Department of Finance and against the majority of the oversight board and the city council,” he said.
“Among other things, our work has recaptured thousands of dollars for our local schools,” he said.
Miller said in a taped interview Friday that all the decisions made by Grass Valley City Council regarding the former redevelopment agency funds were made in a transparent matter and to achieve the most benefit for residents. Miller will address the specific allegations Lamphier has made regarding RDA funds in next week’s story in The Union.
Miller said Lamphier appeared to be leveling attacks on his integrity out of bitterness because Lamphier, who is running for a second term as county supervisor, was previously “fired” from his seat on the Grass Valley Planning Commission and has never succeeded in being elected to Grass Valley City Council, “despite several tries.”
Lamphier, for his part, said the NCTV flap appeared to be a manufactured issue by Miller’s campaign.
“It is the nature of politics for a challenger to attempt to create issues where none exist,” Lamphier said.
“I’m proud of my very public record serving my community as Grass Valley District 3 Supervisor, and I take pride in knowing that my public actions have earned the respect of our community across the political spectrum.”
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.