Many supervisor scenarios likely
Inevitably tied two-two after fiery former Supervisor Drew Bedwell resigned in June, the Board of Supervisors has been forced to muddle through touchy issues, unable to muster a majority.
Bedwell said this week that if he had to make the decision again, he would have stayed on the board.
“I was scared. I thought I was dying (after I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease,); I resigned immediately,” Bedwell said.
“But I could have made all of those meetings one way or another and so in hindsight … I might have hung in there.”
Bedwell had no idea his seat would sit empty for months.
Since then, countless debates have pitted Peter Van Zant and Barbara Green against Robin Sutherland and Sue Horne.
But after Nov. 30 – the earliest date the Nov. 2 election could be certified barring challenges – a coalition could emerge.
The new District Three supervisor – either Bruce Conklin, John Spencer or Linda Stevens – could claim the seat on that day, boosting the board to full strength and giving either voting bloc a step up.
It is more likely, however, the supervisors will wait until the regular Dec. 7 meeting to appoint Bedwell’s replacement, leaving the seat vacant for a few more days.
Then it gets thorny.
On Dec. 2, Van Zant may lose his voting buddy Green, who is running for election to the Truckee Town Council. With two opponents for two seats, pure odds give Green a good shot at election.
If Green leaves office, her successor, Ted Owens, would not take the seat until January unless the governor steps in, said Board Analyst Patrick Ward. Then, the board could dwindle to three, Sutherland, Horne, and Van Zant.
The swiftly shifting board composition could leave a momentary majority, one some observers feel is capable of mischief.
“Any number of things could happen immediately,” Bedwell said. “It’s out of my control. All I can do is pray.”
Van Zant downed Bedwell’s claim of coming calamity if he, Conklin and Green are supervisors.
“We’d continue to negotiate and compromise,” Van Zant said. “I’m not sure we’d do anything different.”
Due to legal restrictions, NH 2020 – the divisive inventory project the board shelved in Aug. 2003 – is dead, Van Zant said. It can only be resurrected by Sutherland or Horne, who aren’t likely to revive the issue.
Thoughts of a Conklin-Van Zant-Green trio chills conservatives, but numerous other combinations are possible in the last days of November and throughout December.
A close count or challenge could delay the deadlock while neophyte elections chief Kathleen Smith was verifying votes.
Or the early appointment of Owens and election of Spencer could swing the board to the right, leaving Van Zant alone.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Green said. She doesn’t know if she’ll spend December on the board or on the council, and she hasn’t made any last-minute plans for her board farewell.
Sutherland said she welcomes new members to the board and hasn’t worried about the rule of a temporary majority.
“I hope any business that is conducted is for the benefit of the county, not for any particular special interests,” Sutherland said. “I hope board members continue to keep their focus professional.”
Although many of the issues that could arise before December remain unknown, Van Zant intends to revisit the zoning and population question that was set aside in an effort to complete the county’s housing element.
After the state required the county to increase housing density in 54 acres surrounding the cities, Van Zant and Green spoke up, asking to offset the increase with a decrease elsewhere.
They base their claim on the county’s governing document, which sets the county population at 150,000.
Horne and Sutherland disagree, insisting a so-called down zoning would equate to a taking of property. But Horne and Van Zant have agreed to hold another debate with a full board.
Another issue likely to come before the board in December is the discussion of public rights of way.
Nov. 30 – First day election could be certified and District Three winner could be installed, potentially breaking Board of Supervisors’ deadlock.
Dec. 2 – Truckee Town Council meeting and possible swearing in of new councilwoman Barbara Green.
Dec. 7 – First regular Board of Supervisors’ meeting, probable swearing in of District Three winner.
Jan. 4 – First regular session of new Board of Supervisors, ends month of turnover, swearing in of District One winner and Ted Owens.
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