Fourth District supervisor candidates face off
As sample ballots arrive, candidates for the Board of Supervisors and the Second District Assembly seats are hitting the forums hard. On Friday, Fourth District Supervisor candidates Georgina Avila Gorman and Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell faced off at a League of Women Voters forum in city hall. Avila Gorman was unfamiliar with many of the issues, while Norvell repeatedly invoked his experience and the relationships he has established as mayor.
An early question was how to address the as-yet-unknown extent of the budget shortfall. “You just have to get into asking for more money from the federal government,” Avila Gorman opined. Asked to provide detail, she added, “I’ll have to look into it with the experts, because I’m not familiar with that.”
Norvell reflected that, “Bringing expenses in line with revenues is a hard decision to make, because it affects people and jobs…We’ve had to do it here at the city. It’s not fun. You’re looking people in the eye, people you grew up with, people you know and see every day. It takes courage to do. I’ve made those decisions here at the city level. I’m proud of the decisions we made, and I’m proud of the outcomes that came from it, but again, they were hard decisions, because they affect people’s lives.”
Later, Norvell spoke about establishing trust with the workforce, responding to a question about protecting workers by saying that he has established relationships with city employees and is confident in support from county workers. “First of all, you have to know the employees and gain their trust,” he averred. “I got endorsed by (SEIU) 1021 and 2015. They liked what I had to say, and I support them all.”
“I'm not familiar with all the county supervisors or city employees or anything like that, because I’m not a politician,” Avila Gorman said. “And I don’t want to be a politician. I just want to be a people’s person.”
Candidates offered their views on climate change. Avila Gorman doesn’t believe in climate change because, “The world has been here for many millions of years, and it’s just round and around.”
Norvell said he wishes the state had focused on infrastructure before working to out gas-powered vehicles, but that, “The county can do a lot.” He outlined how the city of Fort Bragg is purchasing electric vehicles and charging stations for its police force, and putting up more solar panels. “It’s important, and the community wants it,” he noted. “The most important thing in the beginning is, you have to have a plan in place. If I’m elected, and I hope I am, I would absolutely love to be part of that plan.”
When moderator Sharon DiMauro pressed Avila Gorman, asking, “What do you think happened to all the kelp and abalone, if not for climate change?” Avila Gorman said, “I don’t know what happened to all the kelp and stuff.” When DiMauro asked the candidate why she thinks the ocean’s economic assets are disappearing, Avila Gorman pointed to regulators’ decision not to open the salmon season, in light of record low numbers of fish. “This is a fishing town,” she observed. “I don’t know why they’re just stopping that.”
Avila Gorman emphasized her views on regulations when it comes to building low income housing for the coastal community. “We just have to build,” she declared, adding, when asked to expand, “We have to get the building permits and everything. You have to bring in the city and the county, they ask for a lot of permits and this and that, so you have to entice them and lay off a little bit.”
Norvell offered a detailed description of how the City of Fort Bragg worked with developers to build 63 units of subsidized low income housing, after winning a $3 million grant from the state. “You have to build relationships with developers and be willing to do it,” he concluded. “And then you have to listen to the community and hear what they want.”
In closing, Norvell said he hopes to bring Fort Bragg’s approach to homelessness to the county at large, while Avila Gorman repeated her desire to be a people’s person.
You can view the League of Women Voters’ Fourth District Supervisors candidate forum and the state Second Assembly District forum on the City of Fort Bragg’s website or Facebook page.
Ballots for the primary election are due on March 5th.