Candidates trade barbs |

Candidates trade barbs

The five candidates for two vacant seats on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors faced one another in public debate for the first time in this year’s campaign season Wednesday.

Traffic, affordable housing and campaign ethics were among some of the concerns raised by residents and the four media representatives at the forum at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

The event was organized by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, with League President Dottie Schmidt serving as moderator.

Questions were directed to District 1 candidates Nate Beason and Olivia Diaz for the first hour, and the second hour was devoted to District 3 candidates John Spencer, Linda Stevens and Bruce Conklin.

Diaz and Beason’s opinions clashed repeatedly during the debate, the most significant time being at the beginning when both were questioned about Diaz’s alleged “mudslinging” style of campaigning during the primary in March with a flier using quotes from a column Beason had written in The Union.

“I saw (the flier) as issues-oriented. I do not call people names,” Diaz said in defense.

Despite the rough start of the debate, Diaz and Beason were surprisingly similar in several ways – especially when they described their qualifications for the job. Both presented themselves as strong leaders, active members of community organizations, such as homeowner associations, and both gave promises that if elected, they would be willing to take risks to move the county forward.

“One thing I would like to do is stop micro-managing the county staff. The Board of Supervisors should act more like a board of directors,” Beason said.

The second hour of questioning was more heated and featured the District 3 candidates. Spencer, a surveyor, managed to stay out of a fray that developed between Conklin, a former supervisor, and Stevens, a Grass Valley City Council member, over the issue of Stevens’ voting record about growth.

Conklin accused Stevens, a barber shop owner, of supporting annexations to Grass Valley during her time as a council member and mayor.

“I don’t understand how I’ve gotten this reputation of approving growth; we haven’t approved anything,” Stevens said. Spencer even attempted to donate one minute of his debate rebuttal time to Stevens so she could defend herself.

Conklin and Stevens both used the example of their experience as former and current public officials as a demonstration of their ability and qualifications. Spencer said his work on the other side of the table as a surveyor has given him ample experience.

The audience responded tamely during much of the debate, listening to arguments presented by all the candidates. While the audience was not packed, there were more questions from listeners than time could allow. Residents who wish to view more in-depth answers by candidates on local issues can read The Union’s roundtable question-and-answer sessions at Beason and Diaz were featured earlier this week, and Conklin’s interview can be viewed in today’s edition.

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