facebook tracking pixel To the polls: Valentina Masterz, Patti Ingram Spencer and Lisa Swarthout running to replace Supervisor Dan Miller | TheUnion.com

To the polls: Valentina Masterz, Patti Ingram Spencer and Lisa Swarthout running to replace Supervisor Dan Miller

Three candidates are running to replace Supervisor Dan Miller on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

Valentina Masterz, Patti Ingram Spencer and Lisa Swarthout are seeking the District 3 spot on the board. The district roughly comprises Grass Valley.

Incumbent Supervisor Dan Miller isn’t running for reelection.

The election is June 7.


Valentina Masterz said she firmly opposes the opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, referencing Rise Gold’s CEO Ben Mossman in her reasoning.

Masterz brought up Mossman’s history in Canada, where he faces legal action in connection to another mine.

“So, would you let them come to Grass Valley, with that track record, throw a lot of money and promises at the county, in order to open their next site in your city?” she said. “The people in my district that I am hearing the most are saying, ‘no mine.’”

Pivoting to homelessness, Masterz said almost everyone agrees it is a huge problem. Many government bodies over the course of decades have failed to grasp the scope of the condition, focusing on the symptoms and not the causes.

It’s important residents don’t conflate homelessness and housing as the same issue, Masterz said. It would serve all of Nevada County to focus on these two issues separately.

“Homelessness gets a lot of attention and, in my opinion, an inordinate amount of time and energy in debates,” Masterz said. “I think the bigger systemic issue that cuts to the core is the housing market as it relates to the economy.”

Masterz noted people who have good jobs, county jobs, city jobs, skilled professionals and small business owners struggle to compete in the housing market.

“This issue needs comprehensive analysis along with the will to slash taxes, fees and regulations in support of those being pushed out of the market.”


Patti Ingram Spencer pledged to conduct an issues-oriented campaign as she declared her candidacy for the Board of Supervisors.

Ingram Spencer cited her experience on the Grass Valley City Council and the city Planning Commission, and her family history dating back generations, which gives her an understanding of community challenges.

“I’m currently on the Nevada County Planning Commission and reviewed implementations approved … for applications to receive cannabis permits,” she said. “I found some of those new implementations don’t address the approximately 3,500 illegal growers. My hope — assist the Sheriff’s Office with bringing illegal growers into compliance or get them out of the county.”

She expressed a preference to convince illegal growers to see the benefits of compliance, as illegal grows can damage property, resulting in long-term environmental impacts and the theft of water from legitimate business.

“I’m not wild about drone surveillance, but if there’s complaint-driven action for drones, I’m for that,” she said. “But I’d like to see additional outreach to residents uncomfortable of complaining and still get their message across they’re uncomfortable with illegal growers or those who they hire.”

As homelessness has become a more critical concern, Ingram Spencer said it hampers the entire state. While domestic violence and substance abuse contribute to homelessness, the county needs to address those who are homeless not of their own accord.

Ingram Spencer served on the Grass Valley City Council, and was vice mayor and mayor.

She represented the city on the Grass Valley Citizen’s Advisory Committee for sales tax Measures N and E, on the Planning Commission for both Grass Valley Nevada County, and as a member and board chair of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.

She’s a board member for the Nevada County Fair Foundation, and is a member of the Nevada County Republican Women Federated.


Lisa Swarthout pointed to three priorities: broadband expansion, fire prevention/suppression and housing.

Swarthout said she’d like to take advantage of all the money slated for rural communities that stems from the federal and state governments, potentially between $100 million and $200 million.

“It allows people to work remotely, including those (businesses) out of county, and still maintain a Nevada County lifestyle,” she said.

Swarthout said there’s a need to find solutions to help property owners clear parcels of hazardous vegetation, similar to the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone, a shaded fuel break on the west side of town. It was supported by supervisors, and led to a grant from Cal Fire.

Swarthout also encouraged collaborating with groups such as Team Rubicon, a California-based nonprofit that brings volunteers to help with disaster recovery as well as ensuring firefighters have the crews and equipment necessary to engage all fires, even smaller ones such as the Bennett Fire that was fully contained within a few days.

Swarthout praised housing initiatives such as Cashin’s Field and Nevada Commons, and recommends a broadened focus to include middle market workforce housing and market rate.

“We can’t waive impact fees,” she said. “It’s considered a gift of public money, but we can collect them at the end of construction rather than up front and so encourage developers to come to the county to build more housing.”

Swarthout has been a member of the Grass Valley Planning Commission and Grass Valley City Council, serving as mayor on the latter from 2008 to 2010 and 2018 to 2020. Her service also include the Nevada County Economic Resource Council and Grass Valley Downtown Association. She’s a founding board member of the Friendship Club, and has served on the board of Soroptimist International of Grass Valley. She’s been a member of the Local Agency Formation Commission.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com


Nevada County Board of Supervisors, District 3

Name: Valentina Masterz

Age: Decline to state

City of residence: Grass Valley

Occupation: Owner of Valentina’s Organic Bistro and Bakery

Website: http://www.Valentinasbistro.com

Name: Patti Ingram Spencer

Age: 70

City of residence: Grass Valley

Occupation: Retired after 43 years in the title and escrow industry, all in Nevada County

Website: Patti4Supervisor.com

Name: Lisa Swarthout

Age: 59

City of residence: Grass Valley

Occupation: Retired small business owner (owned Mill Street Clothing Co. for 30 years)

Website: http://www.swarthoutforsupervisor.com

Valentina Masterz
Patti Ingram Spencer
Lisa Swarthout

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