Reflecting on Dist. 4 campaign
Why did Sutherland win and Martin did not? Was it because The Union sabotaged the Izzy Martin campaign, as one letter writer complained? Another letter Isuggested The Union was pro Sutherland. I never realized the power that The Union had over our lives, as if all the readers were sheep following the Pied Piper! Are these complaints absurd? Voters have a mind of their own in selecting the candidate who most closely represents their values and will listen to them. So, why did the Izzy Martin campaign and results go down in flames?
There were three major burning issues which haunted the Martin campaign:
1. NH 2020
This was the flawed program which Martin spearheaded and failed to listen to the constituents when a petition with 8,900 signatures was presented to her at a Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting to put the program on the March ballot for an up or down vote by the voters. The BOS voted to possibly put it on the November ballot, but failed to let the public know it would be an advisory vote, not an up or down vote. Community input was controlled. Also, about $300,000 was spent on the flawed program. That money could have been better spent on county services. Was there a question of credibility and lack of being fiscally conservative here? You decide.
2. Ted Gaebler’s contract
No need to go into detail, since much has already been written about this unacceptable contract which contains provisions not normally found in the private or public sector. It will cost the taxpayers into the future after he leaves. It appears that either Gaebler wrote the contract or Supervisors Martin, Van Zant and Green were out-negotiated by Gaebler. Was Martin a fiscal conservative? You decide.
3. Taking down Englebright Dam
In the primary, Martin was asked if she would continue studies of taking down Englebright Dam, and she stated she would continue the studies. In an article in The Union article four years ago, she was quoted as saying that studies of the Upper Yuba should include options of decommissioning Englebright. The decommissioning of Englebright has been on the Army Corps of Engineers list for years, and neither she nor her fellow board members lobbied to have it taken off! Finally, a 1998 letter to the editor by a Wheatland person thanked Martin for opening her eyes about tearing down Englebright and sensed that Martin would like to take down the dam. Martin claims she is against taking down the dam. How does one reconcile her position with the foregoing facts? Is there a question of credibility? You decide.
There were other burning issues also. One of Martin’s committee members contacted Sutherland’s stepdaughter’s grandfather to find out if Robin’s husband was a “deadbeat dad” (for the record, he isn’t, and has a good relationship with his daughter and family). The grandfather refused to discuss it. Is it appropriate to go to this depth into personal, private matters to try to discredit someone? Also, another committee member went over to the Penn Valley Holiday Market to hassle and intimidate two retired persons tending a Sutherland table, and returned the next day and did the same thing to two Nevada Union High School girl students! These incidents traveled the Penn Valley community very quickly. Leaders, regardless whether in the public or private sector, set standards, parameters and project the character they expect of their organization; those under the leaders will normally conduct themselves accordingly.
Unfortunately there was quite a bit of mud-slinging. All you have to do is review the mailers sent out and have attended the debates. Robin Sutherland did not send out negative mailers. They were either positive or responded to the opponents’ negative accusations, virtually all unfounded. Sutherland and her political consultant set high standards to stay on the high road, and the committee members abided by them.
So why was Sutherland and not Martin elected to be the next District 4 supervisor? Was it The Union’s influence, or possibly because it was not a full moon yet? Was it the drought we have been experiencing? There has to be a logical answer! Could it have been that character counts, that voters were seeking credibility, that voters wanted a fiscal conservative and voters wanted to be listened to? You decide.
Joe Vielbig lives in Penn Valley.
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