Election 2010: County candidates square off at public forum | TheUnion.com

Election 2010: County candidates square off at public forum

Eighteen candidates vying for 12 Nevada County elected offices in the June 8 primary met face-to-face with an estimated 250 constituents Thursday night, outlining qualifications and platforms.

The Meet the Candidates Forum at the Grass Valley Memorial Veterans Building was hosted by the Nevada County Tea Party Patriots, The Union and KNCO. The candidates were allowed time for opening remarks and then fielded questions that were developed by The Union and KNCO newsrooms.

The following are highlights from each candidate:

Treasurer-Tax Collector

Realtor Rick Nolle said he would be “extremely conservative,” investing the county’s money, while trying to get the best return.

Accountant Dai Meagher said he would have an investment strategy that would “preserve capital, maintain liquidity,” and ensure a better yield than the county is currently receiving.

Probation Department fiscal officer Darlene Woo said she would enlist an advisory committee of professionals and seek proposals “to see what each (area) bank could do to enhance county funds.”

County executive office analyst Tina Vernon said she would like to earn more revenue off investments as well, but be prudent because “more return brings risk and I wouldn’t risk tax dollars.”


Former supervisor Sue Horne said she would do “a top to bottom review of all operations,” upon entering office. She said she also would replace a 20-year computer program that doesn’t interface well with other departments.

Real estate broker Rolf Kleinhans said the computer system “is not that bad,” and could have been replaced if proper budgeting had indicated the need. He also said he would set up a Web site for better constituent communication.


Appointed incumbent Gregory Diaz said he would continue to “clean up the Clerk-Recorder’s office,” after taking over three years ago from Kathleen Smith.

Attorney Barry Pruett said the race “is the difference between San Francisco values and Nevada County values,” referring to Diaz’s former locale.

Pruett also said he would endorse the Vote Safe Now Initiative that demands voters more specifically identify themselves as a way to ensure against fraud.

Diaz said existing state law and systems (including a signature scanning system) are already in place to protect against fraud.

Supervisor 3rd District

Incumbent John Spencer said the recent privatization concepts such as those considered for county library and animal shelter services should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

“Some you can privatize, some you can’t,” Spencer said.

Not privatizing the library system was an obvious decision after loud public outcry, he said.

Opponent and contractor Terry Lamphier said he would like to see the supervisors involve the community more on such privatization decisions.

Each proposal should be considered on its own merits, Lamphier said.

“It depends on the particular situation and what the community wants,” he said.

Supervisor 4th District

Hank Weston, who is running unopposed, said privatization concepts were part of the board’s continued efforts to cut costs during these tough economic times. “We have to look at everything,” he told the crowd.

District Attorney

Incumbent Cliff Newell, also running unopposed, said he was “categorically opposed” to the state ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana.

“We already have a tremendous drug trade here,” Newell said. If it expands, more people could be expected from out of the county who would violently raid growing operations, he added.

“We will be exporting (marijuana) out of California,” Newell said. The legalization initiative would “make it virtually impossible to stop.”


Incumbent Keith Royal, also unopposed, said he was also “very opposed” to the marijuana initiative.

“We are now the new emerald triangle and the lot of the marijuana is being exported out of the state,” Royal said.

The sheriff feared more violent crime from legalization, adding, “This is a black market drug and will impact our quality of life.”

Superior Court Judge

When asked if Nevada County judges are too lenient, appointed incumbent Candace Heidelberger said she wasn’t sure the perception was deserved.

“We must go on the facts. A lot goes into sentencing,” Heidelberger sai

The judge also said the county court system had already adjusted its budget to allow it to remain open every day and that there really was no need for a state-mandated court closure every third Wednesday. “It was something we could have done without,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools

Appointed incumbent Holly Hermansen said running schools in California has changed drastically in recent years because of budget constraints.

“We have a responsibility to be fiscally accountable,” Hermansen said. School closures, resource sharing between districts, consolidations and unification “all should be considered,” she said.

Although county schools continue to produce high test scores, more funding would help in a state that ranks 48th in the country in per student spending.

Hermansen is running unopposed.


Incumbent Marcia Salter said she has established “a time-tracking system” in her office for payroll, grant reporting and other functions that have created efficiencies.

The unopposed candidate said she understands that “public accountability is the cornerstone of government.”

Nevada City’s City Council

Incumbent Sally Harris and candidate Duane Strawser both attended, having no opposition for the two open seats.

Harris said the loitering problem in Nevada City was a challenge that many cities have to meet.

“People have their rights, but at the same time, I want the city to be a place where people want to come,” Harris said. Loitering laws will be enforced, “but we will do it and be respectful.”

The loitering problem “is a sticking point with me,” Strawser said. “Something more needs to be done. Maybe give the Police Department an ordinance with a little more teeth.”

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

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