Supervisor candidates Hilary Hodge, Dan Miller dig into issues
Candidates for the District 3 seat on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors staked out different positions at a recent forum, drawing lines between them while throwing barbs at each other.
Hilary Hodge and incumbent Dan Miller fielded questions on issues like affordable housing, marijuana and the recent uproar over Sammie’s Friends as they worked to distinguish their positions before a crowd of about 100 people at the Thursday forum.
They also attacked each other’s qualifications, with Hodge intimating her opponent fails to solve problems and Miller countering with claims Hodge doesn’t have the experience.
Fielding a question about bringing affordable housing to the county, Hodge said she’d support people living in RVs, if they stayed on a family member’s property. She also supports tiny homes and yurts, saying many people have full-time jobs yet no stable housing.
“I think that we need to come up with creative solutions,” Hodge said.
Miller said he opposes allowing RVs as year-round homes. He said the recreational vehicles would create issues with septic systems and environmental health.
According to Miller, the county wants to incentivize people to build accessory dwelling units, commonly called granny units, by waiving certain fees, if those builders offer the units to people with lower incomes. He pointed to his communication with U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa and the move by Congress to continue providing Community Development Block Grants, among other funds, that will help Nevada County.
“It was a bipartisan effort,” Miller said.
Hodge said the process to build accessory dwelling units must be streamlined and fees waived when possible. She also argued county officials should follow up with those units, ensuring they are, in fact, rented by those with lower incomes and not turned into short-term vacation rentals.
Asked about a possible marijuana-related tax measure on the November ballot, Hodge said supervisors should have listened to their citizen advisory group and already implemented its recommendations on a grow ordinance. The county should issue business licenses and bring growers into the legal marketplace before creating a tax.
Miller said his opponent doesn’t understand the process, arguing government moves slowly. Supervisors are only exploring the possibility of a tax and have made no decision.
Additionally, the process of writing a new ordinance has become drawn out because of the creation of the advisory group and the several meetings it held — both desires of the community that supervisors followed, Miller said.
Hodge countered that government representatives who prepare and listen to their constituents can expedite the process.
“Butterflies and rainbows, that’s all I have to say,” Miller said, dismissing Hodge’s comments.
Miller said officials must approach the regulations with realism and practicality, along with common sense. Supervisors, he added, are taking a slow, calculated approach toward the rules.
Hodge said that any cannabis regulations must ensure the safety of children. She also wants them to push criminals from the area.
Miller attacked Hodge early in the forum, saying she’s a partisan candidate for a nonpartisan seat. In reply, Hodge called herself an unapologetic progressive candidate.
“Progressive isn’t partisan,” Hodge said. “It’s about human decency. I know what I am doing and I will fight for Nevada County.”
Answering a question about the possibility Sammie’s Friends would no longer operate the animal shelter, Hodge said the proposal, while unfortunate, is the correct move. She said Nevada County has been derelict in its duties, pointing to what she said was a local shelter that needs upgrades.
Miller said supervisors have not yet formally viewed the recommendation by a county panel. That recommendation calls for Placer County to adopt out some of Nevada County’s animals, and for Nevada County to take over other aspects of the local shelter. He added that it would be inappropriate for him to publicly state a position at that time, as supervisors need to discuss it as a group.
“The Board of Supervisors has not been derelict in its duties,” he said.
Pivoting to personal experience, Miller said he has almost three decades of public service. He understands the issues with local business because his wife owned a downtown Grass Valley store for 27 years.
Hodge said her resume is filled with accomplishments, not jobs. She pointed to her ongoing work with legislators on local issues.
“I am the future of Nevada County,” she said. “I’m offering a fresh perspective.”
The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, is the third of four scheduled for this month. The last forum is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City. It will focus on the three candidates for Nevada County sheriff.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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