by Lisa Ladd-Wilson
The 1st District Assembly seat has been a Democratic stronghold for 24 years. No surprise: Democrats are the majority of registered voters in this geographically wide area that encompasses Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino counties, plus part of Sonoma County.
So why do both Republican and Democratic candidates squaring off for the March 26 primary think it's anybody's race?
Term limits, for one: Dan Hauser, who held the seat for 14 years, can't run for re-election. Term limits also booted Democrat Willie Brown from his position as Assembly speaker, and some people say Hauser wouldn't have lasted as long as he did without Brown's help.
Then there are some wild cards: Doug Bosco, who held the seat before Hauser, is trying to succeed his successor. And Republican Margie Handley, who twice made strong runs for the state Senate, now has turned her sights on this Assembly seat.
There are 10 candidates in the primary; two are running unopposed in their party -- Harry Wrench of the Natural Law Party and Harvey Jossen, Peace and Freedom.
Three candidates want the Republican nomination: Bonnie Neely, Handley and Steve Henricksen. Five Democrats are running: Bosco, John Cumming, Karen Scott, Virginia Strom-Martin and Richard Marks.
'RETURN TO BASIC DEMOCRATIC VALUES'
John Cumming acknowledges that, in the age of the Republican Revolution, his motto might be risky. But he wants to send a message not only to the voters but to his fellow Democrats, too, who he thinks have forgotten their way.
He said his party has changed since Jimmy Carter's defeat in 1980, with too many Democrats defining themselves as "I'm like Reagan, but with a heart."
"I became very frustrated with the Democratic Party doing that, trying to be part of 'the mold,'" Cumming said, so he's set out to break it.
Instead of embracing "three strikes" laws, Cumming decries the amount of money being spent on prisons and endorses better education, more employment opportunity and other preventative measures.
"Does that mean we have to stop locking up people? No," he said, but "we should be asking ourselves some questions," such as: Have mandatory sentencing laws made us feel any safer? Do we want to have an incarceration rate that rivals past Communist regimes?
As to welfare reform, Cumming says the public shouldn't view welfare as lost money: "It's not just a hand-out; it's to keep people involved economically," he said. "Corporations are entities of self-interest. The government is supposed to be public interest."
And as for California's sagging economy being blamed on an overdose of environmental and health regulations, Cumming said, "That's nonsense. Defense spending created an artificial boom in California.
"The most expensive place to live (in the nation) is San Francisco. This is where everybody wants to be. When property values go down, then maybe I'll believe that California is hostile to business."
Cumming, 45, has been active in the Democratic Party for years. He's served as chair of the party's Central Committee in Humboldt County and the 1st District itself, and even Bosco acknowledges Cumming has earned the endorsements he's received from various party factions.
In a district divided by environment vs. timber, Cumming thinks his background as an environmentalist and labor lawyer puts him in good stead with both camps.
"Many of my clients know I am for the working people, and it's easier for them to hear me talk about the environment than (Earth Firster) Darryl Cherney," he said.
'LEGISLATURE HAS DEVOLVED INTO A CIRCUS'
Ask Doug Bosco about his stint as a lobbyist for Pacific Lumber Co., and he quickly replies, "I've never been ashamed of anything I've done in my public life.
"People forget, but I am the one to stop Headwaters logging to begin with," he said in a telephone interview from his law office in Santa Rosa.
"Yes, I was a lobbyist, but I'm going to ask people to say, 'What was he lobbying for?' I was doing it to protect the last old-growth stand in private hands."
Although term limits have put a sneer on the words "career politician," Bosco thinks his political experience is a plus.
"There's no business in this country that would put a premium on hiring people with no experience whatsoever," he said. "This state has a $60-billion budget. A premium shouldn't be placed on people with no experience and little background in dealing with very sophisticated and complicated decisions."
Bosco thinks it's crucial this Assembly seat remain Democratic. "In many ways this (race) will be a referendum on who the public wants to see running the Legislature, whether they want the crackpots we have now to continue debating paddling children or concealed weapons, or whether they want someone to educate kids and improve public roads."
Back in 1990, the referendum went to the Republicans. Bosco lost the congressional seat he'd held for four terms to GOP candidate Frank Riggs. Riggs lost two years later to newcomer Dan Hamburg, whose campaign was marked by lucrative fund-raisers and strong support from environmentalists. When Bosco challenged Hamburg for the Democratic nomination in 1994, the work Bosco had done for Pacific Lumber came back to haunt him.
Hamburg was trying to broker a deal between PL and the government that would protect 44,000 acres of trees, including the 3,000-acre Headwaters tract. Bosco's lobbying efforts aimed to protect the Headwaters' acreage only.
Hamburg won the nomination and was beaten by Riggs, who is up for re-election this year. Why isn't Bosco challenging Riggs for his old Washington post?
"I have a young family now that I didn't have before," Bosco said. "My son is 5 and needs me at home.
"Also, I'm really concerned about education, not just for his sake but in general. Also rebuilding the district's infrastructure is very important. And these are things I can accomplish better in Sacramento."
'SEND A WORKING MAN TO THE CAPITOL'
Richard Marks is not a politician. He's worked 17 years at Louisiana-Pacific in Samoa as a weigh master and heavy-equipment operator. He's a middle-class family man. These are some of the reasons he thinks he's a good candidate for assemblyman.
"I'd gotten to the point where I felt the middle class wasn't being represented in Sacramento," he said as he sat in the living room of his home in Samoa. "We are overtaxed and under represented. Or not represented at all."
All the other candidates for the 1st District seat are "politics as usual," Marks said. "I am John Middle Class. I'm just a normal person. The people out there with the biggest problems are like me. I'm risking my own wages to show that it's time for people to stand up and be heard."
Marks' campaign is a home-grown operation. He proudly notes that his teen-age son manufactured his yellow campaign buttons, and Marks tries to combine political stops with his youth coaching activities. His funding is sparse.
He sometimes prefaces sentences with, "If by some miracle I were to win ä," and says the toughest questions come from his own friends: "They tell me, 'You're going to get eaten up down there (in Sacramento),'" he said.
But, "I hope to educate the other politicians," Marks said. "I'm a quick learner. I've never been intimidated by anything."
Marks supports port development and recruiting companies to Humboldt County. "I will aggressively lobby for industry to come into the area," he said, and he doesn't think tourism is the area's saviour. "Those are minimum-wage jobs."
His campaign's biggest liability is a lack of funds, he said, but he's critical of those who spend big money on their race. "The job pays $72,500, and a lot of people have spent over $100,000 already."
Karen Scott said she "got a kick out of it" when Bonnie Neely told an Alta Alliance gathering in January that voters should put someone with political experience in the 1st District Assembly seat.
"She said it takes two years just to learn your way around the Capitol. I say, speak to your own learning curve, not mine," Scott said.
Scott is a high-tech candidate. She has her own World Wide Web site and has been tracking state legislation on the Internet.
"There are 68 specific bills I've been following," she said. "So I've understudied this job for over a year and a half."
"For years we've been told that the public can't understand these issues because (the politicians have) all this wealth of information in the capital. Well, that's not true anymore," Scott said. "This is all available to anyone who wants to tune in and has the equipment."
Karen Scott, 48, owns a property management company in tiny Gualala in Mendocino County. She challenged Hauser in the '94 primary and lost. She is active in environmental and women's issues, but says the worries of the displaced worker cannot be ignored.
"I had a logger tell me, 'I feel like I'm in a tug of war between the lumber industry on one side and (Earth Firster) Judi Bari on the other.'
"These are the people who are being left behind. These are the people whose needs must be addressed. How are we going to bring them back into the job market when we no longer have trees to cut down?"
She advocates an OPEC-style approach to the area's resources. "We have a natural monopoly, or near monopoly, on redwood products. We should be RedPEC," or Redwood Producing and Exporting Counties.
She also supports spending more on education and giving communities more control over their schools -- "Our schools were once the center point of the community. No more," she said -- and spending less money and time on school bureaucracy -- "Our education code is 6,000 pages long. People can spend their lives mastering it just before it gets changed."
Block grants for welfare "should scare everybody in the 1st District," she said, since about one-third of the Legislature lives in L.A. "Where do you think that money is going to go?" And she doesn't think more prisons are any answer to crime.
"I'd like to see first offenders go into a boot-type camp, except for capital cases. And they can't get out until they have their GED," or equivalent of a high-school diploma.
Scott counts herself among those who applaud term limits. "It's a new era of the citizen legislator, not the politician. Now people who are going to go to Sacramento will have to come back (to their hometown) and answer for anything they did."
'EVERTHING I CAN OR CANNOT DO '
ä is decided by an elected politician" That's from a poster Virginia Strom-Martin has hung at the Santa Rosa school where she teaches. Her addendum: "I want to be the one who decides."
Education is a cornerstone of the 47-year-old Strom-Martin's candidacy, and it's part of her "SMART" agenda: Safer communities, affordable Medical care, Attracting businesses, Reforming state government and Teaching children through improved education.
The most blatant problem with education in this state, she said, is how unerringly it has gone downhill. For that she blames packed classes, initiatives taking money from schools, and teachers who must act more like social workers than instructors.
"We have teachers here who spend time after school teaching parent-education classes," she said. "To me, this is absolutely absurd. But we have to do it because we have to deal with their kids."
Asked about her "one-strike law," she said it was an unfortunate euphemism. "What I was getting at is people like Richard Allen Davis, who had a past record of kidnapping, (gets out) and ultimately commits this heinous crime," she said, citing the Polly Klaas case.
She would like to see non-violent drug offenders treated less like criminals and more like the public health problem she thinks they represent.
Like outgoing Assemblyman Hauser, Strom-Martin favors universal health-care coverage for everyone in the state, but, "Right now we are in a position, unfortunately, where we have to fight cuts."
Like many of the candidates, Strom-Martin says her biggest obstacle in this race is money, or a lack of it. But she thinks her candidacy has a lot of appeal.
"A lot of voters can identify with me. I'm a working mom, two daughters, I'm married. I'm part of the Baby Boom generation that's not doing quite as well as their parents did," she said.
'I'LL BE THE MOST BUSINESS-FRIENDLY'
Margie Handley has run for the state Senate twice and lost -- first against Barry Keene and then against current Sen. Mike Thompson. Some people say this campaign is only a stepping stone to '98, when term limits boot Thompson.
Handley's response: She is not planning a run against Thompson "at this time." But she thinks her past two campaigns make her a very strong contender against any Democratic candidate.
"When I ran against Mike Thompson, I won in this Assembly part of the (2nd Senate) district by 52 percent," she said. As to Bonnie Neely's name recognition, Handley said it runs statewide and Humboldt County-wide, but "I am (known) district-wide."
Jobs and the economy combine for the No. 1 issue in this race, Handley said. "Crime is No. 2, education, 3. Probably about in that order, and they're all interrelated."
Handley served on the California Transportation Commission and the Small Business Administration Advisory Council. "Regulation (on businesses) in this state is ridiculous. California's laws are more stringent than federal laws, and we need a balance," she said. "A lot of regulations are based on emotion, not science."
She supports charter schools that would give more local control over public education. And although she says the "three strikes" law was a good start in combatting crime, she also supports preventative measures that might take longer to show results: earlier intervention for children at risk for problems and more money on education.
Handley, 56, also supports the war on drugs and longer prison terms for drug offenders, but advocates boot camps for non-violent juvenile criminals as well as providing rudimentary education to convicts while in prison.
Handley, a Willits business owner, isn't apologetic about the amount of money she has spent on past campaigns -- a reported $400,000, mostly of her own money -- and notes that "Michael Huffington didn't win, and he has a lot more money than I'll ever have."
Her strength, she said, is in her grass-roots support, and she has a lot of that in Humboldt County.
"(Former county supervisors) Anna Sparks and Harry Pritchard have endorsed me, and Jerry Partain. I have strong support from (Arcata Councilman) Lou Blaser," she said. And Jeb Bush, son of former President George, is lending his name and presence to a Handley fund-raiser in Santa Rosa.
They met during the elder Bush's campaign against Michael Dukakis, and Jeb Bush vowed to help Handley if she needed it.
"He's living up to his promise," she said.
'PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF ATTORNEYS'
Steve Henricksen, 45, of Windsor, said his foray into the small-business world prompted him to run for office. It was after his kids had grown, and he and his wife decided to re-enter the "mom and pop" business world. What they found, he said, was overregulation, and they considered moving out of California.
But, "I've been here all my life," Henricksen said, and rather than leave he decided to see if he could make some changes in Sacramento.
He calls himself a working man ready to represent working people, and when he's told he sounds a lot like Richard Marks, Henricksen enthusiastically agrees and asks for Marks' phone number.
"(The GOP) has two candidates who have been very heavily involved in politics for a long time. This is their life," he said of his two primary opponents. "I'm not so sure that's what we really need at this point.
"People are tired of attorneys and politicians being elected to office."
Henricksen is soft-spoken. He acknowledges a lack of "polish": "What you see is what you get," said his campaign manager, Wayne Bowen, who had accompanied his friend to Eureka.
Henricksen's campaign flier touts his Army service and stint in the National Guard, and his "candidate card" sports a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln.
His agenda as assemblyman: economic development, education and crime.
"People always ask me to put them in order, but they can't be prioritized. They are very interconnected," he said. "If you're not going to be safe on the streets or in your home, then really nothing else matters. But at the same time, you have to have a really strong educational system that gives young people the tools to go out and earn a job, making a living and not turn to crime.
"But you also have to have economic development so there are jobs to go to."
Henricksen has served as fair director for Sonoma County and has been active in community groups such as the Lions Club, Santa Rosa Little League and the Sonoma County Council on Aging. He is a member of the Sonoma County Republican Central Committee. He has taken a leave of his job as accounts representative at Royal Petroleum in order to run for the Assembly.
He supports tax incentives and deregulation to "bring businesses back to California." He thinks it is possible to strike a balance between timber and environment, and adds, "When you have generations of people growing up in an industry, you can't just one day arbitrarily shut off the faucet and say, 'You gotta do something different.'"
Henricksen doesn't agree with Cumming that the state is spending more on prisons than education. "The need to have more prisons does exist," he said. When it comes to spending on education, "It may not be a matter of how much we're spending, but how we are spending it. The vast portion of our school dollars never leaves Sacramento."
'LOOK AT THE RECORD, NOT RHETORIC'
The way Bonnie Neely figures it, this battle is between her and Margie Handley. That's the way a lot of people figure it:
Two ambitious women with strong personalities and good name recognition. One has run for state office twice and lost; it's the first such campaign for the other. Tough GOP choice?
Not according to Neely. She says Handley carries too much right-wing baggage for a trip to Sacramento, and if the Republicans want to snag this Assembly seat in November they should vote for Neely.
"I am a Republican because I am a fiscal conservative," Neely said over a bowl of breakfast fruit at the Eureka Inn last month. "But I am issue-oriented."
Neely breaks with the party line over abortion rights -- which she favors -- and many so-called "women's issues." Handley, she charges, is aligned with extremists in the right wing and the anti-abortion movement. Handley's endorsement by conservative Republican Sen. Rob Hurtt is a clear indicator of that, Neely said.
It appears that Neely has lost one of her endorsements, however: The National Women's Political Caucus withdrew its support of Neely after the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported she is against California recognizing gay marriages. Neely said that the caucus hasn't officially yanked its endorsement, but added that she is against "special legislation" for homosexual relationships.
Neely's campaign for Assembly is her rÈsumÈ: She has served as 4th District supervisor in Humboldt County since 1986; she has been on the California Board of Forestry and California Coastal Commission; and, she was instrumental in obtaining financing for the new county library. (She also waged a successful campaign to move the library from its original Cooper Gulch site, a long and often bitter battle that pitted Neely against Eureka activist Hope McNeil.)
"I've got a great track record for getting things done," Neely said. "I know the impact of state regulations on counties. I have a lot of experience to lend to (the Assembly)."
She thinks her mix of moderate and conservative stances gives her candidacy bipartisan appeal, and she is unimpressed by Handley's oft-quoted 52 percent from the '93 race.
"That was a special election. Only 24 percent of the electorate came out to vote," Neely said. (According to the Secretary of State's office, turnout was actually lower -- 21.3 percent.)
As to charges she is too much the politician, Neely asks: "Is it a bad thing to be experienced? I don't think so." In fact, she adds, term limits make the job more attractive to her: "It's a maximum six years," she said, and then she can return to Humboldt County.
by Jim Hight
Eight candidates are seeking the honor of steering Humboldt County's $158-million-a-year bureaucracy for the next four years.
The candidates for county supervisor in Districts 1, 2 and 3 -- including two incumbents -- disagree on few issues. Instead, they tout their abilities to grapple with the county's challenges: finding a place to send the trash, repairing storm-ravaged roads, serving the poor and homeless, trying to recover county rights to Eel River water, and doing it all within the county's means.
"Not that dramatic or sexy," sums up retiring Supervisor Julie Fulkerson, who was elected to represent the Third District in 1990. But not boring either. "It's a constant roller coaster of problem solving," says Fulkerson.
The candidates' credentials for the $46,000-per-year jobs are as diverse as the county population, from innkeepers to ranchers, store owners to community-development planners. To help voters make their choice on March 26, the Journal offers these profiles.
Stan Dixon is running for his third term as 1st District supervisor. His opponent is Richard Lee, a Eureka resident who says he decided to run when his satellite uplink business in Fields Landing was bogged down by county regulations.
Dixon, who served as mayor, city councilman and school board member in Ferndale before being elected to the county board in 1988, is proud of his role in steering the county through a financial crisis in the early 1990s "without major disruption of county government. ... We didn't have to raise taxes, we built a new library, and we began and almost completed the new jail project."
He says the crisis made it "clear that the way we do business had to change. Taxpayers wanted government to provide services but with a reduction in expenses." Reorganizing county government has been a priority since, from the courts to the computer systems.
Dixon chairs the Eel-Russian River Commission, seeking to establish county rights to water now diverted south. While the looming PG&E divestiture of the Potter Valley Dam leaves the future up in the air, Dixon thinks the commission is having "significant impact. Our point was to keep it out of the courts, and so far we've been successful."
In terms of challenges, he singles out the "problems with how we provide services to children. We'll continue working with the Child Welfare League of America to analyze our needs and implement recommendations."
The growing numbers of people without homes also concerns Dixon. His focus, he says, is to work with the City of Eureka, non-profits and churches to create a "permanent transitional facility to take families, children and individuals on a case-by-case basis," and help them get back on their feet.
Helping the homeless is a passion for Dixon's challenger, Richard Lee. A Vietnam veteran who suffers from Agent Orange exposure, Lee says that many homeless men are vets suffering from the same affliction.
"If I get in, I'm going to work for a VA outpatient clinic here," pointing out that the closest one is in Redding. "I know a lot of Vietnam vets, and their lungs are burnt up worse than mine. These boys are on drugs to stop the pain. If we had a clinic here, there wouldn't be so many druggers."
To shelter homeless men, many of whom he says will "never" go to an indoor shelter, he advocates outdoor shelters, "a covered place with burn barrels (for warmth)."
A man with little political experience but ample spirit, Lee says that "ministries" ought to be started in the jail and in the schools to "teach respect, honor and decency. I don't care whether it's Buddha, Christ, New Age, Hebrew or Moslem. Give them all an hour."
He also advocates swifter justice through courts that run on nights and weekends, stricter pollution controls on mills, and pipelines to deliver natural gas from Petrolia to the central county areas.
Timothy Carter and Roger Rodoni are trying to unseat Roy Heider, the one-term incumbent. Carter, a logger and pipe-organ builder, and Rodoni, a rancher who has championed agricultural interests for more than two decades, voice few political differences with Heider. But both say that voters have grown dissatisfied with the incumbent.
Heider says he'll forego any hard campaigning and let his record speak for itself. If he loses, "maybe the next person will do a better job."
Not that Heider rates his performance poorly. The retired owner of a service station in Garberville and other businesses in his Redway hometown, he says he's developed expertise in the intricacies of government.
He gets along with the "liberal" south and "conservative" north in his district, he says. "Southern Humboldt has a liberal marijuana-growing community and Fortuna is extremely conservative," Heider says "I'm conservative, but living and having run business in the south, I've built respect among the counter-culture."
"The dope growers hammer me," he admits, for supporting pot search and seizure efforts. While saying he'd have "no problem" with legalization, the county would lose funds if it stopped enforcing drug laws.
But it's in the Fortuna area where Heider has inspired the strongest opposition, primarily over the process of consolidating county courts -- something that he's most proud about.
"Our court system was one of the most inefficient in the country. It was almost like we had three separate counties." After consolidation, Heider contends, the court system does more and costs less. But in the process, say Heider and his opponents, many people in Fortuna felt their supervisor abandoned them.
"He's working with the people in Eureka who would like to see all (court) services centralized there," accuses Timothy Carter. "(During court consolidation), people in Fortuna were saying, 'Stand up for us, Roy.' He couldn't be found."
While acknowledging that the Fortuna court is still open, Carter says that he and other area residents fear its days are numbered. He criticizes Heider for not pushing the county to purchase a new building for the court, which he says is "deteriorating."
Carter also criticizes Heider for not working harder for the district's rights to Eel River water, much of which is currently diverted south. He says that First District Supervisor Stan Dixon "spoke up for our rights and Roy Heider kinda tagged along."
If elected, Carter would like to expand services for children and resolve the county's festering problem with building code violations.
"We need to raise up good, productive citizens, and that is the key to reducing law enforcement costs (Let's) put law enforcement money into paying child care workers for disadvantaged kids," he says.
Carter was a part of the 1988 protests against the county's threats to enforce building codes on rural structures, and while the issue has been on the back burner since, it will boil again if not dealt with, he believes
"If people use their own materials to build a horse shed in the middle of nowhere and it's not up to code, they can be subject to double fines," blackmail from neighbors who want easements or water rights and even getting their buildings bulldozed.
"The answer to the problem will only come from everybody telling their stories and trying to figure out common solutions." As a supervisor, he says he'd see that such a process was implemented.
Roger Rodoni shares Carter's criticisms of the incumbent, claiming Heider makes himself unavailable to people who aren't in his camp. "If you ain't the right guy, he don't pick up the phone."
Rodoni nearly won the election in 1992, losing to Heider by 166 votes in the November runoff. He thinks that Heider's support has eroded since then.
"He's not a forceful advocate for anything. He has made people in Fortuna extremely uneasy in that he doesn't come around and make himself available."
Rodoni says he'll bring a businessman's vigilance to county finances and look at issues on an individual basis. "What people care about depends on what Grange Hall you're in."
He also points to his experience as a compliance supervisor for the USDA Agricultural Conservation Program, his current membership on the board of the Resource Conservation District and position as part-time teacher at College of the Redwoods.
Some policy ideas he likes are contracting with private vendors for some county road maintenance and creating trash-burning power plants along the railroads.
"The train could haul garbage up the tracks and the plants would generate electricity to drive the trains." Noting that concerns about toxics would have to be addressed, he urges the proposal be studied.
Rodoni has received some support from Pacific Lumber Co., a fact raised by Carter, who questions whether Rodoni will unduly favor PL as supervisor. Rodoni acknowledged that John Campbell and other PL managers signed his nominating petition and the company donated plywood for signs but says PL is well regulated by laws outside the county's purview. "If you've got some kind of working relationship with the largest employer in the district, that's a lot better than being on the outside."
Three men with long histories of civic activism in the 3rd District are campaigning to succeed Julie Fulkerson as supervisor.
With nearly 70 percent of the district's voters living in Arcata, one might expect the race for supervisor to be shaped by the progressive-conservative split that has characterized the college town's politics for years.
But while each candidate draws on divergent constituencies, they express similar views on most issues. On serving the homeless, for example, all three say that county services should be upgraded for the truly needy but rationed for people who don't want to help themselves.
In a Feb. 19 forum televised on KEET, John Woolley was the lone candidate to say he'd lend county support to a gay and lesbian pride day, and he offered tentative support for affirmative action while Sam Pennisi and Carl Pellatz both made clear their opposition.
Woolley has been endorsed by three of the five Arcata City Council members, as well as outgoing Supervisor Fulkerson. The Manila resident has a history of community service dating back to the early 1960s when he was elected student body president at Humboldt State University and helped create the tutoring program, Youth Educational Services, which continues to this day.
Woolley has founded and worked with a number of nonprofit groups, including Redwood Community Development Council, the Manila Community Center and Northern California Indian Development Council, where he now works as a planner. He has been a director of Manila Community Services District since 1980, chaired United Way campaigns and helped create a "risk management pool" that now insures Manila and about 180 other districts.
Woolley was also active in restricting off-road vehicles to preserve the north spit dunes. He says he'll bring a knowledge of "how to get community change going" to the board of supervisors, something he sees as key to dealing with such chronic problems as homelessness and child abuse.
"Humboldt County has a high proportion of single-parent families, and this, coupled with real wages falling and housing costs rising means many people are living right on the edge."
He embraces the "human services team" concept in which welfare, public health, probation and other departments collaborate to "make county government more efficient and effective. The board has to say (to departments used to working separately), 'We require you to work collaboratively.'"
Pellatz is the current mayor of Arcata. He ran for the City Council in 1992 because he "was upset about what happened in Arcata with the (Gulf War) Sanctuary Resolution."
An insurance agent with Anderson, Robinson in Arcata, Pellatz's long-term public service commitment is to the Arcata Volunteer Fire Department, where he has served since 1964 and is now a captain. He also referees high school and college basketball, is a former Rotary president and appointee to the Medical Board of California, where he reviewed complaints against physicians.
"I'm running for supervisor because in the next one to three years, some hard decisions have to be made," says Pellatz. "We need to reach a decision on the homeless issue, on solid waste management and come to some kind of final decision on what county government is going to provide.
"I'm always saying I'm completely amazed at what people can do when they get together." He remembers trying to help the community of Kneeland establish a fire station. "They needed ground for a fire house. I was able to sit down and get people from Pacific Lumber to commit to a long-term lease."
Describing himself as a "Type A personality" who hasn't taken a vacation longer than a week since he was a youngster, Pellatz says that of the three candidates "I'm the one who has current experience working at the city-county level. I'm up to speed on most of the issues. And working in the private sector, I fully understand what small businessmen are faced with "
Pennisi, owner of the Lady Anne bed and breakfast in Arcata, is seeking to re-enter elective office: After 16 years on the Arcata City Council, he lost his seat in 1992.
Pennisi says his landmark accomplishment on the council was creation of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. "I was part of the original team, and by the end, the only council member who saw it through to its current level of operation."
Creating the marsh/sewage treatment system took 10 years in which Pennisi says Arcata had to resist pressure from surrounding communities that wanted the town to support a regional waste water plant instead of waiting for the environmentally sound process eventually devised.
He also takes credit for helping create the Aldergrove Industrial Park and the community sports complex. And something else he's proud of "seems small but was really critical. We were always able to balance our budget. We stayed within our means, set goals over time, and adjusted those goals when things were more affluent and when the (economy was) recessed."
His Arcata government experience led to his being called upon as a guest speaker at conferences on governmental innovation.
"My particular political interest is in how the organization is run, the efficiency, the atmosphere.....We need a team of supervisors that will devote intense energy to how the county is run. The better we do our job, the more discretion and the more resources to provide services and programs (we'll have)."
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