Two for District 4: Calvin Clark, Sue Hoek run for Board of Supervisors
Two candidates are running for the District 4 seat on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors — Calvin Clark and incumbent Sue Hoek.
District 4 roughly encompasses the westernmost side of the county, including Penn Valley and North San Juan.
The election is June 7.
Calvin Clark was in the middle of an attempt to recall all five supervisors when he opted to run for office.
Clark began attending supervisor meetings the summer after the COVID-19 pandemic began, but the hopeful supervisorial candidate has been involved in politics for years. In 2001, he spearheaded an effort to recall then District 4 Supervisor Elizabeth Martin. Calling off the effort in December 2001, Clark said they fell short of the required signatures needed to trigger the recall.
In December 2021, Clark was involved in another recall effort, this one attempting to remove all five supervisors. Since announcing his candidacy for District 4, he said he’s spent less time on the recall effort and is looking ahead.
The deadline to turn in the necessary signatures in this year’s recall effort is May 31.
Clark also was part of a group that in January entered the local elections office without masks. The group said it wanted to check on the recall process, and was followed the next day by another group that officials say forced their way inside the closed office. A judge ultimately decided to put a restraining order on one of three of those people. Clark wasn’t part of that second group.
“The reason why I am running for district supervisor is because the county lacks transparency and citizen involvement,“ Clark said.
Clark said there is ample evidence that the county is what he called corrupt, with $174 million in unfunded liabilities, or “the reserves to pay for pensions for the county employees.”
Clark said the board is acting as an arm of the state, as opposed to prioritizing local services.
“The recent rubber-stamp politicians — all five of the supervisors — have become operatives of the state of California in promoting policies instead of core services,” Clark said. “All of the funding that is being done is done without evaluation and reporting. They don’t come back and say what they did with the money. They are throwing so much money at so many things on the consent calendar.”
Clark said he has had issues with local politicians in the past, but the pandemic demonstrated just how far policy interferes with providing necessary services and exacerbating the financial deficit.
“We need to get out of the state of emergency that we are in,“ Clark said. ”We don’t need the state to tell us how to spend our money to have a collaborative effort to retain the money that we legally can and should.
“Once the state stops offering funding, the county will collapse,” he added.
Clark said his competitor wants to have town halls behind closed doors, to make deals. Hoek dismissed this accusation, pointing to two public town halls she’s recently had.
“We’re already having local town halls, and I’m not even elected,” Clark said.
Clark said he was not born in the area, but he was raised here.
“My family moved from another rural part of California to Alta Sierra, to Nevada County in the 70s, and I finished high school at Nevada Union,” Clark said, adding that he is running “because I love Nevada County, but I want to help keep it a safe place.”
Sue Hoek calls herself a fourth-generation farmer, with ancestry in Nevada County dating back to the late 1800s.
“My family has always been actively engaged in the community,” Hoek said, pointing to a great-grandfather who helped found the Nevada Irrigation District; a great-great-grandfather who was a county supervisor in 1865, and another grandfather who served three terms as county supervisor. “It’s kind of funny — I look back at some of the things they dealt with back then and it’s water and roads.”
Hoek takes pride in her local lineage, for the climate, she said, but also for the region’s history of innovation. She represents a county established by east coast pioneers, she said.
Although Hoek comes from a long line of agriculturally oriented public servants, she said good leadership requires an open mind.
Hoek said she first began to recognize cannabis as a legitimate agricultural industry after she took office.
“Agriculture is tough right now with rules and regulations,” Hoek said, laughing at the idea that Nevada County has 18 legal acres of cannabis cultivation since it opened the local compliance office in 2018. “I have to make decisions that aren’t necessarily what I want, but what is best for the community.”
Hoek said her mind has changed about cannabis since she took her current position, and added that the county and its constituents stand to benefit from the rapid embrace of the legalization process.
“There are only 18 acres of legal cannabis in Nevada County,” Hoek said. “We have a long way to go. We have to support those joining the legal system and get the egregious growers out.”
Now, Hoek said she is working with cannabis cultivators, old time ranchers and private agencies like Sierra Harvest to help create an integrated defense system for the community against wildfires.
“I’m a farm bureau advocate,” Hoek said. “We’re always working to lobby for agriculture to be able to stay in business.”
Hoek first took office in 2018, running uncontested for the position.
“I did run uncontested — which I’m humbled by,” Hoek said, adding, “that people felt compelled to support me in that endeavor. I think that comes from living here all my life.
“Being from a ranching family, I know what it means to take care of the land,” Hoek said, adding that she never intended to get involved in politics. “The only platform I have is to have an open door policy to have answers to challenges.”
Hoek said going into what could be her second four-year term, she will be focusing her work on alleviating housing pressures as well as educating and offering policy support to address the growing severity of California wildfires.
Hoek said another term would give her the opportunity to continue and build on the work that she started, including entering Phase 2 of the Penn Valley Senior Planning project, which added 307 new housing units to the county.
Hoek said when her son and daughter stay with her, along with their children, she claims seven generations on her family farm. Hoek, who is also part of the Regional Housing Authority, said her own legacies inspire her to think about the community’s potential beyond her own lifespan.
“I’m not a politician,” Hoek said. “I think you have to have passion for living and loving this place. You have to want to put everything you have into it. What do we want to be 20 to 30 years from here? What are our goals? How do we use smart growth?”
Hoek said housing is an obvious priority given the region’s imminent growth.
“How do we promote and grow to support younger folks to stay here?“ Hoek said. ”We don’t have a lot of industry anymore.“
Hoek said part of that support requires a wider reach of broadband connections, expanding upon the 600 connections already established with $8 million in grant funding.
“We are doing a countywide (environmental impact report) to help move the work along to help our service providers,” Hoek said, adding that her family’s history and future in the area helps her think about how the community should prioritize values long term.
Hoek said one challenging aspect of her supervisorial responsibilities has been following the money the county uses from private and public sources.
“I’m not a numbers person,” Hoek said. “I don’t want to be a CPA or an auditor, but to actually go down each department, it gets confusing when we involve realignment funds.”
Hoek said she’s been proud to represent and serve a county that has received statewide recognition for the way that it’s offered emergency shelter services and created a rapid response team.
Hoek has learned plenty on the job, but she feels she came to the office with a certain degree of civility that helps her listen to each constituent and hold up her open door policy.
“I think that’s why you have an open door policy, right? You listen to all the issues,” Hoek said. “It’s really what your supervisors are supposed to do.”
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com
Name: Calvin Clark
Occupation: Real estate property inspector/contractor and salesman
Hometown: Rough and Ready
Name: Sue Hoek
Hometown: Penn Valley
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