Nevada City Candidates vie for three spots (VIDEO)
For several years seats on the Nevada City Council went to anyone willing to take them, as not enough candidates ran for office. This year, voters will have decisions to make with six candidates, including two incumbents, vying for three open seats.
Council members Reinette Senum and David Parker will face challengers Rick Ewald, Daniela Fernandez, Douglass Fleming, and Lorraine Reich for the three spots when residents cast their ballots for the March 3 primary election.
Incumbent council member Valerie Moberg is not running for re-election. The top three vote-getters will win seats on the council.
Originally from Detroit, Ewald moved to Nevada County in 1996 and hopes his experience as a citizen in Deer Creek dealing with issues of housing, homelessness and insurance will give him the insight needed to earn a spot on the council.
“My home burned down and I recently completed rebuilding. As a result, I have intimate experience with the way city government works,” Ewald said.
“I am the co-producer of the Earles of Newtown and support the local music scene booking artists in various Nevada City venues. I know Nevada City and Nevada City knows me. I’ll work hard and keep an open mind. My election to the City Council will bring a fresh new perspective to local government.”
According to Ewald, the biggest challenge facing the city is its finances, and Ewald wants fiber infrastructure, increased parking and cannabis to be parts of the solution to grow revenue.
“I believe the biggest challenge the city faces is revenue sources,” Ewald said. “We have a valuable resource in the former Grass Valley Group complex that is sitting vacant. Bringing new business to Nevada City would increase our tax base and allow funding for projects badly needed.
“We used to be a prime destination for tourists to come enjoy our parades, explore the wealth of natural beauty locals and just hang around in Nevada City for a weekend. That has diminished and a large reason is the lack of parking in the downtown area.”
Ewald said due to his focus on finances, he will support fellow candidate Doug Fleming for one of the open seats.
“I am an insurance consumer advocate. I learned a lot working with the people of Paradise after their wildfire,” Ewald said. “We need to take that information and propose a concise evacuation plan that saves lives in the case a wildfire happens here. I have valuable professional experience with the difficulty local families are having finding adequate homeowner fire insurance.”
Fernandez said she was inspired by women and people of color stepping into leadership roles across the country and wants to follow that example to bring a bold vision and fresh energy to the Nevada City Council.
“It is my belief that our government works better when everyone is well represented,” Fernandez said. “By bringing the right people to the table at the right time we can work together to make our lives in Nevada City easier, safer and more prosperous for us all.
As the youngest candidate I will bring the experience and perspective of my generation — a generation that has inherited a climate and an economy that we did not create. A generation that says although we did not create these problems, I want to solve them — all I need is a seat at the table.”
According to Fernandez, some of the biggest issues the city faces are fire safety and supporting local businesses, particularly in the wake of PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs.
“I am committed to working alongside our Firewise Communities to ensure that we have wildfire mitigation goals as part of our strategic plan. I’m excited to explore additional revenue streams and possible funding so that we can meet those goals and truly be prepared for potential disaster,” Fernandez said.
“I was on the front lines with 211 at the charging station and met a number of people deeply affected by the power outage… The financial, emotional, and health impacts of being without power are severe. We need to look at solutions across the board, including expanding our own local renewable energy infrastructure (including solar power), more leverage with PG&E, and increasing our local ability to respond and support our community in the face of these challenges within the next few years.”
Fernandez said her background in counseling psychology and as a community advocate would help her bring people together to work collaboratively.
After serving on county boards, commissions and nonprofits, securing more than $4 million for those organization as a grant writer with his local consulting firm MD&M Consulting, Doug Fleming felt the need to serve in a different capacity.
“I was originally looking for another board to serve on when I started seeing the challenges and problems engulfing the Nevada City Council,” Fleming said. “After speaking with residents and council members, I felt that my professional and personal background gave the requisite experience needed to help bring calm, reasoned governance back to the council table.”
According to Fleming, Nevada City’s greatest issues are fire preparedness and the loss of insurance, followed by the need for economic revitalization.
“(The city should be) finding ways to support our local businesses in Seven Hills, downtown and tech center so that they can continue to provide good jobs and needed revenue for our city,” Fleming said. “This includes working to keep the courthouse downtown so that it can continue to help support local businesses and contribute to our town’s vitality.”
When it comes to cannabis, Fleming said that while he supports the economic boost it has provided, the city must tread carefully going forward.
“I think the cannabis businesses that have taken root have been safe and wonderful additions to our city, have provided new revenue streams and should be nurtured and supported,” Fleming said. “However, we must be careful not to kill the golden goose by opening more businesses without conducting proper market analysis and finding other business along the cannabis supply chain that fit with what we have.”
Fleming said addressing homelessness through grant funding and using strategic planing to develop long-term energy sustainability would also be priorities.
Incumbent council member Parker, founder of the annual Famous Marching Presidents, has been in elected office in Nevada County for 25 years and said he wants to continue serving because his proven experience will allow him to continue to get more done for the city. After moving to Nevada City in 1970 he started community organizing. He later was elected to the Sierra Community College Board of Trustees with a platform of bringing a Sierra College Campus to Western Nevada County in 1983.
“My work is not done, there are many issues the council is still working on, but the one I’ve been working on for years is the transformation of the old airport into an open space, multi-use park,” Parker said. “It’ll serve generations, our great-grandchildren probably can still be enjoying that.”
According to Parker, aside from the old airport project, which has been a passion for him, the most pressing issues facing Nevada City is its ability to remain a full-service city through economic development.
“It doesn’t get much conversation but maintaining Nevada City as a full-service city in the 21st century is an enormous challenge and an issue that’s very important to me,” Parker said. “Things continue to get expensive and you have to be clever to run fire, police, and infrastructure services. It’s a funding issue and we need to lean into what makes this city not like any other town in California. That means focusing on the arts and the things that bring people into our town, because it’s a gem.”
Parker said moving forward on the city’s parking structure project, supporting cannabis and renovating the downtown courthouse are also imperatives to ensure the city’s economic future.
Reich said her unique experience as a mediation lawyer will provide both the legal mind and collaborative approach needed to deal with Nevada City’s issues.
“I was prompted to run when I observed what appeared to be dysfunction, infighting, and wasted time on the City Council,” Reich said. “I bring to the council my 30-plus years as a practicing attorney and the professionalism that comes with working in courtrooms, conference rooms and formal negotiation settings. I have excellent organization and time management skills and I pay attention to detail.”
According to Reich, the most important issue facing Nevada City will be restoring decorum back to council chambers.
“I have observed the current body of the City Council has engaged in infighting, leveling accusations and personal attacks,” Reich said. “As a first order of business, we must address the basis for such childish behavior and bring decorum back to the City Hall. We need a functioning City Council with members who are mutually respectful, professional, and focused on problem solving.”
In terms of the issues, once collegiality is restored the council should focus on homelessness, fire evacuation planning, creating jobs, particularly for the youth, and increasing broadband availability.
“As a 30-year resident of Nevada County I have watched as our youth left the area in search of education and employment,” Reich said. “I wish to develop programs, careers and jobs for our youth to attract and encourage them to stay in our vibrant Nevada City community.”
Reich said she also tentatively supports the proposed parking structure behind the National Hotel.
“The ideas of building multi-level parking structures, or underground garages, are good ideas,” Reich said. “Before we leap, however, it would be my policy that we fully explore all options, and evaluate the costs before proceeding down any particular path.”
Current Mayor Reinette Senum said she’s running for reelection to follow up on the accomplishments the City Council has had in the last four years, pointing to recent efforts in pursuing fire safety grants and unique ideas for reducing fuel loads as examples.
“As a City Council, we have accomplished much these past four years,” Senum said. “However, the times are demanding more from the City Council than ever. I want to be part of a team of City Council members that is proactive, solution-oriented, and determined to find creative solutions to match the myriad of challenges we are facing. I believe we can take most of these challenges and turn them to the benefit of the people of Nevada City.”
Senum said looking back on her last four years in office, she would have liked to launch a citizen’s oversight committee to monitor ethics, fiscal responsibility and transparency.
“A citizen committee would be instrumental in ensuring that important items or discrepancies are flagged and shared with the council for direction,” Senum said. “If reelected, I would like to see this happen.”
According to Senum, other important issues facing Nevada City include fire safety and economic development.
“If I am reelected, this will include a comprehensive fire prevention plan, and a detailed evacuation plan to be shared fully with our citizens,” Senum said.
“Also on that list is economic development, including expanding safe and reliable internet fiber optic technology; creating an avenue for increased high-tech business; rotating public art; innovative workforce housing; reducing homelessness; and lastly, to increase our energy independence and security with 100% solar energy for the city.”
Senum said she also supports the proposed parking structure and prioritizing putting power lines underground in the city.
- Occupation: Consumer advocate
- Age: 63
- Website: N/A
- Hometown: Detroit
- Occupation: Community engagement specialist — 211 Connecting Point
- Age: 40
- Website: http://www.danielaforthepeople.com
- Hometown: Orlando
- Occupation: Grant writer, strategic planner
- Age: 59
- Website: Facebook @dougforcitycouncil
- Hometown: New York City
- Occupation: Artist/painter
- Age: 73
- Website: N/A
- Hometown: Nevada City
- Occupation: Attorney at law and mediator, community organizer
- Age: Decline to state
- Website: http://www.LorraineForCityCouncil.com
- Hometown: Los Angeles
- Occupation: Self-employed
- Age: 54
- Website: https://www.reinette2020.com
- Hometown: Nevada County
9:13 a.m.: This story was updated to include a candidate’s website. The Union regrets the oversight.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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