Nevada County Board of Supervisors candidates answer voter questions
Hopefuls for the District 1 Board of Supervisors seat answered questions from the community on fire danger, economic development and other issues affecting the county at a candidate forum this week.
Incumbent Heidi Hall, building contractor Michael Taylor and attorney Deborah Wilder are vying for the seat that encompasses Cascade Shores, Deer Creek, the Highway 174 corridor, Nevada City and the unincorporated areas of Banner Mountain.
At the outset of the Thursday forum Hall made a case for her reelection by asserting she’s followed through on the commitments she’s made to the county during her first term, specifically on broadband, cannabis, fire safety and homelessness, while both challengers said they were not satisfied with growth and speed of solutions coming from the Board of Supervisors.
“In the three years I’ve been here, we’ve succeeded on all of these areas,” Hall said. “I ask you to let me take that another step further and bring some more great initiatives in the coming four years.”
According to Wilder, she would use her experience working both in government and with local nonprofits to create results.
“I’m not about having another study session,” Wilder said. “I’m not about having a meeting that’s going to kick something down the road. I’m about finding solutions.”
Taylor said he would leverage his experience in the building industry and lack of experience as a politician to provide solutions.
“I’m frustrated with the lack of building for the last 10 years or more,” Taylor said. “For the past 10 years we’ve been in a non-growth situation.”
Attendee Julie Kelly said she came to the forum because she did not know much about all of the candidates, but left interested in hearing more from Taylor.
“There were a couple points he made that I thought, that’s worth exploring more,” Kelly said. “I’d be interested in talking to him in person when he’s not on the spot and explore the issues more thoroughly so I have a better sense of what he’s offering us.”
When it came to reducing fire danger through vegetation and evacuation route management, the candidates agreed on their importance but had different ways to address them.
“I think we as a community, neighbors, should reach out and first make all efforts to help our neighbors help ourselves,” Taylor said. “I’d like to see the county to take care of their property before they start forcing homeowners to take care of theirs. There are several parcels the county owns that are not to the standards they are asking the citizens to do.”
Wilder agreed that a community-first approach is needed. She also wants to reinstate a Community Emergency Response Team training program that would train people to prepare for an emergency situation and give them the ability to assist emergency personnel, freeing up first-responders for more critical operations.
“With the threat of wildfire we need to work with our neighbors and connect with them so we can help each other in these situations,” Wilder said.
That approach appealed to audience member Greg Marks.
“As far as evacuation routes, I think that Wilder had the best idea with CERT,” Marks said. “People in emergencies panic unless they practice.”
Hall emphasized the need to continue funding vegetation clearing and other fire safety efforts in a collaborative way.
“We all understand it needs to be done, the county can’t do it, private landowners are struggling with money to do that,” Hall said. “We’re asking to be in a partnership with the community to address that together.”
Hall said she would support the idea of a penny sales tax to pay for those fire safety measures. Taylor vehemently opposed the tax while Wilder said she would need more information about the specifics.
According to attendee Cindy Bailey, the forum led her to make a definitive selection.
“What stood out for me is I know who I’m going to vote for now,” Bailey said. “I like the way the county is going, I feel good about the county.”
The forum was one of a series hosted by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County featuring candidates for races that will be on the March 3 primary election ballot. The next forum will be Monday, featuring candidates for the Nevada City Council, followed by District 1 U.S. congressional candidates on Thursday and District 1 state Senate candidates Feb. 6.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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