Novice eyes upset |

Novice eyes upset

Dan BurkhartRobin Sutherland walks down Siesta Drive in Penn Valley on Saturday with Christina Guerland, 16, a Bear River High School senior, passing out fliers and asking residents if they have registered to vote.
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You can take her out of the office, but you can’t take the office out of Robin Sutherland.

During a Saturday door-to-door, knock-and-talk stroll in a Penn Valley neighborhood promoting her candidacy for Nevada County’s 4th District supervisor, Sutherland wore office shoes with heels.

After working in offices since the age of 17, such shoes are nothing new. “I’m used to wearing heels. It’s a hard habit to break, especially when you’re short,” said Sutherland.

Sutherland is short, but she isn’t short on enthusiasm, and the heels didn’t seem to slow her down in the hot afternoon sun. Her steps may have been buoyed by a homeowner who said he would vote for her.

Sutherland also made a good impression on the Bear River High School student who was following her around for a school project. The student, Christina Guerland, said Sutherland is genuine, cares about people, and is running a positive campaign.

The campaign trail is a new road for Sutherland, who spent many years working for the state, but has never been elected to office or served on a government board.

“I decided to run because I felt people needed to be heard,” said Sutherland.

She worked for the state for 17 years, starting out in accounting, then branching into compliance audits, and then working on a state database – the Statewide Property Inventory System. She holds associate degrees in business administration and real estate from American River College and Sacramento City College.

Sutherland, 40, started her own business in 1999 called Phoenix West, which specializes in school site selections. She works on several complex projects a year that require a lot of problem solving, she said.

Married with a stepdaughter, Sutherland talked of her younger brother, Eddie, who is recovering from a brain hemorrhage and lives with Sutherland.

She is also a committee member of the tribal government of the United Auburn Indian Community, according to election finance records.

Sutherland said she does no site selection work for that community, which is trying to build a casino in Lincoln. She has said she doesn’t support Indian gaming for Nevada County, and that she became a member of the tribe’s economic committee because she thought she could help them start up small businesses. She found there wasn’t much interest.

Because Sutherland has not held public office, one of the criticisms of her candidacy is that she isn’t involved in the issues and doesn’t have political experience.

In response, Sutherland said she has been out in the community and attended functions at the Penn Valley Fire Protection District, the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada County Business Association to hear what people think about the issues, rather than sitting at meetings.

“I like to listen to people to determine an opinion,” said Sutherland. “We have a board who hasn’t listened to people. While they’ve been sitting at meetings in Grass Valley, I’ve been out talking to people. I’ve been hearing people want a change in District Four.”

Election 2002

The Union today begins profiling Nevada County 4th District Supervisor candidates. We begin with Sutherland in a random drawing presentation.

Today: Robin Sutherland

Thursday: Rene Antonson

Friday: Elizabeth Martin

All political stories in the coming days will be on our Web site,

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