Nevada City Council candidates make their case | TheUnion.com
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Nevada City Council candidates make their case

John Orona
Staff Writer

Three candidates seeking the Nevada City Council seat vacated by Reinette Senum made their case to voters in a League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County forum Thursday evening.

Amy Cobden, Catalina Llanos, and Gary Petersen took questions from the community and laid out their visions for Nevada City’s future.

While each candidate identified the economy as the biggest issue for the city, Llanos also cited the importance of mental health and community well-being, Peterson listed water availability as a critical resource, and Cobden said the city’s COVID-19 response will be crucial going forward.

“What’s particularly challenging about the pandemic in this town is that we haven’t see a lot of cases,” said Cobden, an endocrinologist. “For a lot of people to really care they have to know someone who’s going through (it); so my fear is that in not having that kind of personal relationship many members of the county are just not going to take it seriously and then it’s going to come back and hit us.”

On the economy, Cobden said she would like to lean into the cannabis industry in the immediate future, Llanos said businesses need more resources and community events, and Petersen advocated a long-term move toward the tech industry.

“(The tourism industry) does not create high-paying jobs, some people profit but the workers and a lot of people, some here on Zoom, can tell you what that means in their lives trying to live in a tourist economy and I get that,” said Petersen, a former public works director. “We cannot put all our eggs in one basket.”

When it comes to broadband, each candidate said they look for partnerships with surrounding areas to make the service scalable, and Llanos said she would also look for alternatives outside of private industry.

“In my profession fast internet is a crucial thing,” said Llanos, a geographic information system specialist. “We need to get our town up to speed with that, and as far as who would own it, I would love city-owned, and co-ops — the smaller the better i think ­­— so working with NID and seeing what we can do there.”

With respect to parking, candidates acknowledged space limitations and economics make it a challenge. Llanos advocated for a shuttle service similar to what the city employs during Victorian Christmas, while Cobden said a fee increase may be needed.

“The raise from 25 cents to 50 cents that we had recently has generated $400,000 in revenue in the last year alone,” Cobden said. “As much as people hated that, we’re going to have to consider doing something like that if we’re going to improve the situation in the long run.”

On dealing with PG&E to underground power lines and mitigate tree removal, the candidates called for increased dialogue with the company. Cobden and Petersen cautioned the funding for undergrounding isn’t available and it will be a long-term process, while Petersen and Llanos also advocated for alternative energy sources.

“We are living in a problem PG&E created for us. Their consistent insistence over the year to put profits over people has put us in this position,” Petersen said. “The proposal put forward to save 16 years is a minimal ask of PG&E and PG&E should pay attention to that.”

Regarding the police response to violent counter protesters last month, the candidates said improvements could be made and called for an increased communication from the community and police.

“It makes me so proud to be in this community and to feel that people care about people of color, that are gay, all those things,” Llanos said. “The way the police responded I think they should have reacted to the violence right away and I don’t feel like that wasn’t done.”

All candidates said they would follow state and federal health mandates and would support making housing construction easier.

The league will host a forum for Nevada Irrigation District Division 3 and 5 candidates at 6 p.m. Monday.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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