Karen Tricomi: Audrey Denney talks strategy with Grass Valley
Audrey Denny visited Grass Valley to talk and listen to an enthusiastic crowd. An estimated 160 people filled the Foothills Event Center on May 7 to hear her positions and priorities in her run for U.S. senator for California’s North State.
Campaign volunteer and delegate Justine introduced Audrey as a candidate who “embodies kindness and grit.” Audrey took the stage and reminded the crowd that during the last race she won Nevada County by 56%, signaling a shift in the county’s politics.
She recounted her recent visit to D.C., where she participated in Bernie Sander’s Climate Change action and meetings on the Hill, accompanied by four survivors of last year’s Camp Fire. There she saw these survivors become activists, which mirrored her own journey.
She then spoke about taking small, pragmatic steps to accomplish her three top priorities, which are healthy people, healthy forests, and healthy communities.
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Top three priorities:
Making our forests healthy again. Stewardship contracts allow federal, state and local governments to collaborate with foresters, the logging industry, and environmental groups to restore our forests to health. There are currently 6 million acres of federal land in the Sierra, and the intent is to raise the target for stewardship contracts to 500,000 acres/year.
Removing dead and dying trees, thinning the forest back to pre-1900 levels — when a healthy forest had between 50 to 80 trees per acre compared to the current 300-400 trees/acre — is a part of this effort. Ideas for dealing with woody biomass from the felled trees, rather than burning them, include creating cross-laminate timber (plywood) and making fuel. Building laws must be changed to provide a market incentive for the cross-laminated timber. And, although privately owned property owners can receive incentive credits for making fuel from other sources, there are no corresponding incentives for biomass collected from public lands.
Supporting career and technical education to train or retrain foresters is a vital component of this goal.
Health care for all. When asked how many in the audience have trouble finding the doctors they need in this area, approximately 70% of the people raised their hands. Audrey commits to funding existing incentive programs for doctors to serve in rural communities. In order to make the rural counties in this district an attractive place for doctors, scientists, and technical professionals to live, high-speed rural broadband is critical.
Economically healthy communities. Tariffs and climate change have made agriculture less profitable, and increased the risk of total loss through fire, floods, and drought. Approximately 50% of our district is federal land, which means taxes are not collected for emergency services and other infrastructure. Audrey wants to improve the system of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PITL). This is a reimbursement from the federal government to compensate counties for the loss of tax revenue. Currently, this district does not receive enough to provide for critical county services.
Audrey believes the funding formula must be changed and made permanent. Currently, it comes up for renewal every two years, making it difficult for the county to develop long-term strategies for these agencies.
Focusing on these priorities, Audrey promises to protect everyone in her district, especially seniors and veterans.
During the 2018 mid-terms, she narrowed the margin between she and LaMalfa from 20 points to a final 9.9 points. In California District 1, there were approximately 18,000 who voted for John Cox — the Republican candidate for Governor — and also voted for Audrey. She believes that listening to people from across the political spectrum and showing up at local events in all the Northern California counties helped her gain support from Republicans.
Her strategy, which starts now, focuses on organizing by precinct, increasing voter turnout, and out-messaging the competition. She raised $1.1 million in her last campaign without any corporate or PAC money; however, she will need three times that amount to win this election. In the first quarter of this year she raised $250,000, all but $500 of that from individuals. She encouraged the attendees to think, as they donate, “I am using my disposable income to do good in the world.”
A question and answer period followed, where she spoke on topics ranging from gun control to human rights.
Karen Tricomi lives in Grass Valley.
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