January 29, 2020 — The Ukiah City Council Chambers were packed on Tuesday night for a candidate forum featuring the four contenders for the first district supervisors seat, and the three vying for the seat in the second. Both Carre Brown, of Potter Valley, and John McCowen, of Ukiah, are retiring at the end of this term, so two new faces on the board are guaranteed.
First district candidates agreed that their top priorities were water and fire, though, with sixty seconds to respond to each question, no one got to dive into details about groundwater, the Potter Valley Project, or the ongoing fire recovery efforts.
Candidate Glenn McGourty, who as the farm advisor holds a degree in plant, soil and water science, thinks the first district supervisor will have to take a sophisticated leadership role in determining the fate of the Potter Valley project. But the water supply is even more complicated than that project, with all its complexities.
The discussion never strayed far from the basics: fire, water, and land to grow food and live on were the main topics. Concerns about land branched out into climate change, Measure V, and the wildlife management contract, and anxieties about housing and homelessness led to talk of mental health and how to help the county thrive economically.
Jon Kennedy, a first district contender who served as supervisor in Plumas County, thinks the county’s job is to provide essential services and that supervisors spend way too much time dealing with cannabis.
Cannabis didn’t even come up during the second district portion of the forum, but other environmental issues did. Joel Soinila said environmental stewardship was a top priority for him, while Ukiah City Council member Maureen Mulheren touted the environmentally friendly measures she’s worked on during her time on the council. These include the recycled (purple pipe) water project, LED city lights, and her encouragement of Heather Guevara, of Zero Waste Mendocino.
None of the candidates came out as a climate change denier. James Green, in the first district, weighed the priorities he would think about, when considering recommendations by the climate change advisory committee. The committee’s role, he declared, would have to remain advisory, and any action would have to be within the budget of the county, which is facing crumbling communications infrastructure and an ambulance shortage.
Mari Rodin, a former Ukiah City Council member, had some thoughts about balancing the needs of housing in her mostly urban district and land use on the rural edges. She advocated a conservation easement at Lovers Lane, housing at the urban core, and a tax-sharing agreement with the county.
Homelessness and housing were major issues for both districts. Soinila, who served as a program manager for Street Medicine, thinks it’s key to focus on preventing people from slipping into homelessness in the first place, and taking measures to head off poverty.
John Sakowicz, in the first district, answered a question about the wildlife management program with a big-picture perspective, saying, “All life is sacred.”
As part of our election coverage, starting Monday, February third, at 6pm, we’ll be interviewing each individual candidate live every weekday night until we’ve heard from all nine of them, in the first, second and fourth districts. We’ll also open the phone lines so you can ask questions directly.