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Andy Burton: Strawser worthy of our trust as supervisor

Over the years we have all become accustomed to the language of political messages. We hear about a candidate’s values, leadership qualities and track record for good decision-making and sound judgment. The tone and tenor and claims might leave a voter to wonder how to decide between candidates when they all seem to lay claim to a similar set of virtues.

In one of our most notable local races, Duane Strawser is running against Heidi Hall for the supervisor’s seat in Nevada County’s 1st district. A big part of Duane’s appeal as a candidate is his experience in local organizations and government. With 13 years on the board of the Nevada City Chamber, six years on Nevada City Council, one term as mayor of Nevada City and numerous additional years serving on a long list of committees and commissions, it’s easy to see that Duane has plenty of experience working in the context of our local government.

Duane has also been instrumental in bringing a number of bike race events to our area. Duane and his wife Connie have hosted and promoted the Nevada City Bicycle Classic held annually on Father’s Day. Many locals know and love this event and are drawn to the spectacle of world class athletes racing through the streets of Nevada City.



In 2010, Duane was successful in attracting the attention of the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC), an eight-day multi-stage bike race owned and operated by AEG. In 2010, 2011 and again in 2015 Nevada City played host as a stage start for the annual Amgen Tour of California race. And it’s in the context of these events that his leadership and experience really come into view.

Hosting a stage start for a race event the size of ATOC is no trifling matter. Planning and preparation for the event starts approximately one year in advance and the list of local government departments and agencies involved is extensive.




In discussing the level of planning that goes into an event like ATOC it’s important to include the level of mapping involved. As the racers wind their way through our area, including Nevada City, Grass Valley and the rest of the county, every single linear foot needs to be accounted. This includes every corner, every driveway and all intersections both controlled and uncontrolled. The AEG folks need reassurance that every step of the route has been logged, an ETA has been assigned to each milestone and volunteers have been placed to ensure the safety of the public and the athletes.

Then, just when you think that everything is set, things change. And they change fast.

Such was the case in 2011, when the first stage of that year’s ATOC was supposed to start in Tahoe but had to be reset at an alternate start location due to snow. Duane received the first call close to midnight the night before race day. The question was obvious: can Nevada City accommodate a last-minute move of the stage start to Broad Street?

Many phone calls were made that night. Many people were woken up, briefed on the situation, and were ultimately drawn into the plan being cobbled together on the fly in just a few short hours. City officials, county employees, law enforcement, business owners, bike club volunteers … everybody was tapped to jump in and help make an 11th hour plan work.

The fact that Duane knew who to call in this situation is only part of the story. The rest has to do with respecting and protecting the individual interests of every agency involved while making the new plan work for the race organizer. In all cases the primary, over-arching concern is safety for all involved. Many difficult decisions had to be made. In such a compressed time frame there is no room for waffling or stalling. Few people would have been able to accomplish such a feat, under such significant pressure.

To be sure, bike race events and filling a county supervisor’s seat are two different challenges. The common ground between the two is that both require boots on the ground experience in leading people, making difficult decisions and protecting the interests of your constituents. Placing our trust in the right candidate for this position is serious business. I believe that Duane Strawser has shown us that he is worthy of our trust, and is fit to serve the people of District 1 and the rest of Nevada County.

Andy Burton, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His opinion is his own and does not represent the viewpoint of The Union or its editorial board. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.


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