Measure E campaign accelerates |

Measure E campaign accelerates

Billboards, buttons and bumper stickers.

With two weeks until the March 2 primary, the push behind Measure E, a $394 million bond to expand programs and modernize the Sierra Community College District’s campuses, has accelerated.

Sign-toting volunteers and smooth-talking telemarketers are hard at work in an effort to pass the college system’s first bond since the Rocklin main campus was built more than 40 years ago.

Organizers of the bond campaign said they are reaching many potential voters in this closing stretch of their $150,000 promotional push.

“I think if you would have called a lot of people a week ago, not many people would have known what we were talking about,” said Dan Castles, a co-chairman of the Nevada County effort for Measure E.

Castles and other locals have touted the benefits that Measure E would bring to the 7-year-old Nevada County campus, including more rooms, expanded facilities for nursing students, and a training facility for firefighters and police.

“To me, the biggest thing is it greatly enhances the ability of our local community college to train locally for jobs,” said Castles, who owns a Nevada City company that designs and manufactures digital equipment.

If approved by at least 55 percent of voters, the bond would cost property owners in the district’s borders an additional $19 annually per $100,000 of the assessed value of their property.

The system’s campaign committee expects to spend about $150,000 on promotions for the bond. School money cannot be spent for the campaign, and employees are prohibited from campaigning for the system while at work.

Like most every other campaign involving a politician or ballot measure, volunteers have established a Web site in support of Measure E.

Sierra College’s Measure E Web site, http://www.gosierra, was launched last month and includes news, endorsements and ways to help support the campaign.

Andy Wright of Auburn said the site was created in part “to get the true situation of the campuses to the people. It gives some people a firsthand look at the state of disrepair.”

Bond proponents have long said that the Rocklin campus, for example, is riddled with leaky roofs, decaying walls and cramped quarters.

Wright, whose son attends the Rocklin campus, said he’s seen busted pipes and cracked concrete at the Rocklin campus.

Still, “the quality of my son’s education has been superb,” Wright added.

It’s because of the leaky roofs and busted pipes that volunteers have ordered 50 signs, 32 square feet each, for Placer and Nevada counties, and why 600 smaller signs have been ordered for residents who want to show their support for the measure from their kitchen windows, said Tom Cosgrove, campaign manager for the Friends of Sierra College/Yes on Measure E campaign.

The group has eschewed television and radio advertisements for a direct-mail campaign, sending 20,000 pieces directed primarily to absentee voters.

The campaign hasn’t reached everyone, however, and though there is no stated opposition, there have been rumblings of discord from those who believe the measure is an unnecessary tax.

Susan Delisle, a Sierra College student and radiology aide at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, said Thursday she had no knowledge of the bond but would support it.

She’s studying to be an X-ray technician, which has proven to be tough at the Nevada County campus.

“I have a hard time finding classes for my prerequisites,” she said. “I have to take classes at Nevada Union, and they’re pretty run-down.”

On the local Web site, Chuck St. Louis has a link decrying Measure E, “a bond disguising itself as a tax,” he said.

“I am not against higher education, and I am not against Sierra College expanding their facilities, but Measure E is not a bond. It is a tax,” he said.

St. Louis said the bond squeezes more disposable income from the middle class to pay for something that will only widen the state’s budget deficit.

St. Louis, who owns a mercantile store in Nevada City, said he’s not necessarily anti-tax, just prudent.

“We need to stop spending, especially when we have a deficit.”

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