Land use, tactics dominate debate
Candidates for Nevada County’s District 4 supervisor hammered each other over land-use issues and campaign tactics in front of a packed Penn Valley firehouse Monday night.
Hosted by the Penn Valley Community Association and the League of Woman Voters, the debate drew close to 100 spectators, along with incumbent Supervisor Elizabeth Martin and challengers Robin Sutherland and Rene Antonson.
At times, the debate took on the ambience of a professional wrestling bout, especially after the first question from the audience, a rambling dig at Sutherland that included a question about her connections to political consultant David Reade.
Sutherland said Reade was recommended to help get her campaign started last year, worked on her campaign one to two months, helped her write fliers, and that was it.
Antonson said that outsiders come into Nevada County trying to run “your district, and your county.”
Some of the questions also involved the issues, including Measure D, which proposes a claims process to reimburse landowners; Natural Heritage 2020; and affordable housing.
Martin and Antonson said they are against Measure D. Sutherland said she has not decided yet how she would vote on the issue.
On a question of whether each candidate would bring NH 2020 – a controversial land-use inventory program – up again, Antonson said county supervisors go off on tangents with programs constituents can’t afford. Antonson also said during the debate that he helped fight NH 2020.
Martin said she would not begin NH 2020 again on her watch, and said the divisive and ambitious program is “dead.”
Sutherland said it should never be exhumed, and she believes NH 2020 sucked much of the livelihood from the county.
“Yes, Ms. Martin, it was borne of you,” said Sutherland, in a dig at one of the leading proponents of NH 2020.
On affordable housing, Antonson said the county has a responsibility to help people in society. Affordable housing belongs in Nevada County, not just in big cities, he said.
Martin pointed to the Affordable Housing Task Force, to the county’s doubling of its investment in affordable housing while she has been supervisor, and to a Penn Valley project she helped get started.
Sutherland said the county should seek grants and that work force housing is a problem, causing sheriffs deputies and others to have to live outside the county.
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