Nevada County Planning Commissioner John Spencer received hefty Republican support this week for his potential appointment to the county’s vacant supervisor seat.
Five state legislators – including Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, and Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley – recommended Spencer for the nonpartisan position in a letter dated Tuesday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Mr. Spencer’s lengthy service to Nevada County, as a professional and activist, makes him a pre-eminently qualified candidate to serve as an advocate for the people of Nevada County on the Board of Supervisors,” states the letter, signed by Keene; Aanestad; Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City; Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas; and Assemblyman Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks.
“I got that letter a couple of days ago, and I am quite proud of it. It is nice to get the backing of all those important people right now,” Spencer said.
Nevada County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Mary Longmore said she was not surprised about the letter of recommendation for the position.
“It is becoming politics as usual in Nevada County, and it is getting a little rough out there,” she said.
Supervisor Peter Van Zant also said he is concerned that “it is introducing a level of partisanship that we could do better without in the county.”
The nonpartisan position has been vacant since Supervisor Drew Bedwell’s recent resignation to undergo treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
The governor is not required to choose an interim replacement and, regardless of any appointment, residents will vote for their choice during the general election in November. Spencer has also announced plans to campaign for the position in the fall.
Van Zant does not think the county needs the governor to make an appointment at all. If the governor does, “I would prefer that he would appoint someone with supervisor’s experience,” Van Zant said.
“I think Bruce Conklin would be the likely choice,” Longmore said.
Conklin is a former supervisor who was beat out by Bedwell by 19 votes in 2002. Conklin is expected to try again for his former seat in the general election this fall.
“(Spencer) is very current on issues that are presently before the Board of Supervisors, having served as Bedwell’s planning commissioner,” said Cliff Wagner, Keene’s chief of staff.
“When Drew found out that he was going to have to resign, I felt that seeking the appointment for his position was the next logical thing for me to do because I have been real close to what is going on and with the Planning Commission and what the supervisors are doing,” Spencer said.
Spencer, husband of Grass Valley Mayor Patti Ingram, currently is serving on the county Planning Commission as Bedwell’s appointment. He has also worked for the county’s Department of Transportation and has owned a land-surveying and development-consulting business since 1984.
During Spencer’s time on the Planning Commission, he has supported development plans of Wolf Creek Ranch Estates and streamlining the application process for getting building permits by keeping fees down. Spencer said that two main issues he would want to address as a supervisor would be creating more affordable housing and helping “make the county community development department more user-friendly.”
Supervisor Sue Horne also has sent the governor a letter supporting Spencer’s appointment. With Spencer on the board, she said, “I think (the board) would work well together.
“He is very even-keeled and has a very common-sense approach in his thought process,” Horne said.
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