The question came near the end of the two-hour debate Friday night, one she said she hadn’t expected: What do you bring to the position of 5th District supervisor that your opponent does not? After a long pause, challenger Sharon Latour said, “Twenty years more of adult life, of problem-solving, tragedy and joy, mistakes and redemption … the benefit of years.”
Incumbent Ryan Sundberg, the first Native American to hold that elected office, didn’t hesitate. “I know this community.”
Latour, a Presbyterian minister who moved into the district from southern Humboldt in 2010, may be forgiven for mispronouncing Orleans in her opening statement and for not knowing KBRA stands for Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. (It's also a radio station in Texas, for that matter.) She readily admits being on a “steep learning curve” and it showed throughout the evening. She said she’d have to bone up on a lot of issues, including the Williamson Act, water flow volume in the Trinity River (she answered the question by talking about drinking water), and levee flooding in Orick. After three years on the job, Sundberg was well prepared to discuss all of the above.
Latour landed only one partial blow. In her closing statement, she criticized the current supervisors, including Sundberg, for not passing the General Plan Update when they’ve had the completed draft for two years, and for changing the GPU guiding principles last year. “The current board, and recently reconfigured planning commission, have taken our visionary plan and utterly disregarded it. Protection for working lands, forests and watersheds has been weakened. …”
Sundberg said changing the GPU guiding principles was more of an update since the original ones were set back in 2002. “I didn’t think it was a huge deal.” He said the GPU process is moving along to completion.
About 50 people attended the Friday evening debate at Azalea Hall sponsored by the McKinleyville Chamber of Commerce. Both incumbent and challenger were excessively polite and cordial. Both said their opponent was "a nice person" and “very nice.”
The debate was recorded by Access Humboldt and will be available online soon at www.accesshumboldt.net. For a rundown of other scheduled debates in local races, check here