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An Eclectic Mix 

A crowded field of challengers in the Second District

(from left to right) Sean DeVries, Rick French, Michelle Bushnell, Michael McKaskle, Estelle Fennell

(from left to right) Sean DeVries, Rick French, Michelle Bushnell, Michael McKaskle, Estelle Fennell

The race to become Humboldt County's next Second District supervisor has four challengers taking on two-term incumbent Estelle Fennell, collectively offering a diverse set of opinions on where the county is and where it's going.

The March 3 primary will see Fennell, the former executive director of the Humboldt County Coalition of Property Rights and news director at KMUD, squaring off with challengers Michelle Bushnell, a rancher and small business owner, operations consultant Sean Devries, retired Hydesville Water District Manager Rick French and Michael McKaskle, who's worked as everything from a mental health aid to a glass science technician and served on multiple community boards.

Each of the candidates filled out NCJ's brief questionnaire via email, with the exception of French, who said he was concerned his computer was being "monitored" and instead opted to pick up a paper copy and fill it out by hand. The surveys offer a brief overview of the candidates' bios, a few insights into their personalities and the chance for them to outline their priorities.

We then interviewed each of them, asking the same four questions about some of the most pressing issues currently facing the county: homelessness, the economy, climate change and budget priorities. Their abridged answers are presented below, in alphabetical order.

NCJ: Humboldt County is home to one of the largest per-capita populations of chronically homeless people in the nation. The county has pledged to take a Housing First approach to addressing the issue but a housing shortage remains. What would you do as a supervisor to address this?

Bushnell: "I believe in Housing First, however, I believe that housing is not enough when chronic drug and alcohol abuse plague the homeless, usually because of mental health issues they're self medicating for," Bushnell says, adding that the issue hits close to home as her mother was homeless when she died at the age of 49. She says new state laws will make it easier to provide temporary shelter for people and that she's interested to hear people's ideas about what the obstacles are to creating more affordable housing because there are reverberating impacts from the problem. "Not only are people cold and hungry and not being housed, it's also a detriment to our county when we're trying to market for tourism and trying to bring people to the area," she says.

DeVries: Addressing homelessness locally necessarily includes "healing people that are sick," DeVries says, whether that be mental health or substance issues. DeVries says he sees psychedelic therapy — or the practice of therapists working with patients on psychedelic drugs to treat ailments from PTSD and anxiety to alcohol and nicotine dependence — as a viable solution. "That would be so exciting and I think a lot of money would come our way to explore this and try to help people," he says. Additionally, DeVries says he sees positive steps in the new county General Plan Update, which allows for tiny homes and sanctuary parking areas. He also says officials need to make decisions in the community interest even if there will be localized impacts. "I think we just need to find something that's reasonable and get it going," he says. "You can't be afraid to make mistakes."

Fennell: Some things are moving in the right direction, Fennell says, pointing to a new 20-unit housing project for the homeless that's about to open in Rio Dell and the changes in the General Plan Update to allow for tiny homes and secondary dwelling units as examples. Fennell says the county's Housing Trust Fund should also see a cash infusion soon with the auction of a county property expected to bring in at least $375,000, which can be used for other projects aimed at getting people off the streets and into housing. "There's a lot the county is doing in terms of providing a way forward," she says, adding that she's also hopeful state funding to address the issue will be more equitably distributed between rural and urban areas moving forward.

French: "Well, it's not hard for me to picture how we could do much better," French says, adding that while Housing First is the right philosophy, the county hasn't "really taken a great shot at it to start with." French says the county needs to inventory what county, state or park land is available and could be used to shelter. He believes the public-private partnerships are generally corrupt and used to funnel money to developers, pointing specifically to the project in Rio Dell. "While I like Betty Chinn, the box car thing is a farce, too," he adds, referring to the converted shipping container transitional housing project Chinn undertook with the Humboldt County Coalition for Property Rights. He offers no specifics about the alleged corruption.

McKaskle: The county's immediate focus, McKaskle says, should be on finding shelter solutions to get people out of the elements. "In theory, Housing First is the best way to do this but in practice, there's a lot of people who need something right away," he says, adding that he supports sanctioned camp sites and sanctuary parking programs, as long as they come with some services, like portable showers and toilets. While Housing First typically doesn't recommend such short-term solutions, McKaskle says he thinks the need in Humboldt is too great not to take immediate steps, especially if they are relatively inexpensive. "I don't think that would take much away from a Housing First approach," he says.

NCJ: The scientific consensus is that the world is approaching a tipping point on climate change and Humboldt County has been identified as a "ground zero" for sea level rise impacts in California. What would you do as a supervisor to help reduce Humboldt County's emissions, while also preparing for the varied impacts of climate change locally?

Bushnell: There's no question climate change is coming, Bushnell says, and Humboldt needs to prepare on a number of levels. County government, she says, needs to do all it can to look for alternative energy sources. "We need to find ways to get wind power here and solar power here in a large grid form," she says. But residents also need to take individual action, she says, adding that she would encourage people to research solar panels, small wind generators and small-scale hydropower on their properties in the rural stretches of the Second District. "People need to take an individual approach to begin with," she says.

DeVries: Throughout the county, there are old mill sites that could be used for solar installations, DeVries says, adding that the environmental impact of installation would be minimal because the sites are essentially dormant. On a larger scale, DeVries says the county should be doing all it can to facilitate locating an offshore wind farm off the coast and "get that moving." He says he'd also like to see the bus fleet locally shift to electric, adding that the county should provide free bus passes to all its employees in an effort to boost ridership.

Fennell: "There's actually three areas that we need to focus on: emissions, sea level rise and the third part is fire safety," Fennell says. On the emissions front, Fennell says the county's Climate Action Plan has identified the top local emissions sources and is now coming up with plans to reduce those. When it comes to sea level rise, Fennell says the problem is daunting, noting that some projections have the U.S. Highway 101 safety corridor and Murray Field being inundated with water in the not-too-distant future. "Those are things we need to take very seriously," she says. On the fire safety side, Fennell says controlled burns have proven effective to reduce risk, adding that residents and officials need to do what they can to support local fire departments, especially in rural areas.

French: Humboldt County's rural nature, coupled with the fact that 54 percent of its emissions come from transportation, will make this a daunting challenge, French says. Especially in the rural stretches of the county, he says people will become more isolated and just won't "have the wherewithal to get to town very often." He says he doesn't "understand the dynamics" between the board of supervisors and Caltrans but thinks its unfortunate the U.S. Highway 101 safety corridor improvement project is moving forward without plans to address sea level rise and has "a sense that there's fraud." Regarding sea level rise more generally, he says he'd like to see "big money people come in and offer some kind of program where we offer to buy out people in (low lying) places like Fields Landing" to help them relocate to higher ground.

McKaskle: Humboldt County should pursue the creation of a public bank, McKaskle says, which could then help finance renewable energy projects, like the solar array being pursued by the Redway Community Services District. He said the county should also do what it can to reduce fuel loads in local forests, which would in turn reduce wildfire risks. The best way to do this, he said, is by making biochar, a kind of charcoal that safely stores carbon, is resistant to decay and will last for thousands of years. "That way, you're able to fix the carbon," he says, adding that he'd also like to see the county's General Plan Update revised to be more "climate friendly."

NCJ: The county's seven-year budget projection has it facing a substantial deficit in the coming years, yet the budget also faces requests for increased expenditures, from raises for sheriff's deputies and other staff to deferred road maintenance and infrastructure needs. How would you work as a supervisor to both bring the budget into balance and address the county's growing list of needs?

Bushnell: The county makes rash financial decisions, Bushnell says, and needs more oversight. "Especially with road maintenance because we have had a lot of damage from rain and slides and stuff, and we need to make sure we're finding the best, most cost-effective approach while still retaining the quality we need," she says. "We have to investigate to make sure we're getting the best bang for our buck." Bushnell adds that she's also concerned about increasing pension liabilities from CalPERS, calling it a "plague."

DeVries: The best approach to the county's budget imbalance, DeVries says, is to bring jobs back to the economy. He says the county should immediately work to "convert as many of the traditional market growers" as possible to the legal, regulated industry. He suggests doing this with a friendlier permitting process and an incentive program that will allow growers to enter the system while working toward regulatory compliance and paying taxes. "What other industry do you know where they ask you to stop working while you fix decades-old problems?" he asks. "That's insane and it's not viable. ... [But] if we act quickly, we can save this economic engine that's driven the county for 30 years."

Fennell: If the revenue isn't there to pay for all existing or needed services, "we're going to have to prioritize," says the incumbent. "Those are the cold, hard facts. But what we can do is learn from the past and build revenues." Fennell says it's also important to recognize that cannabis revenue coming into the county will grow as the industry gains a foothold, noting that the board also gave the industry a brief tax reprieve last year. But really, she says, the county needs a diversified economy, noting that the proposed Nordic AquaFarms fish plant and an offshore wind facility could bring jobs and revenue. "Let's build the revenues now and the way we do that is by building a diversified, solid economy," she says.

French: There's "hanky-panky in the sheriff's office and the budget," French says without offering details. He questions whether the 17 vacant sheriff's deputy positions really need to be filled and suspects the county budget is rife with fraud and waste. "We need to straighten the salaries out, get everybody Kosher and not stealing money from various departments," he says. "I'm a nuts and bolts person. I like to stay closer to real things."

McKaskle: Allowing small-scale CBD hemp cultivation by allowing property owners to grow 99 plants or fewer as a principally permitted use could provide an economic boost with minimal environmental impact, McKaskle says. He also suggests forming special rural roads districts that would allow neighborhoods to prioritize road maintenance, if they desire. Additionally, he says the county needs to support statewide efforts to reform Proposition 13, which capped property tax increases, by exempting commercial properties. Further, he says, supporting MediCare for all would save the county money, noting it currently spends some $16 million on medical insurance for employees. He also refers to rising CalPERS costs as "a time bomb" the county needs to be cautious of.

NCJ: Anecdotal evidence and declining sales tax receipts indicate the county is in the midst of an economic downturn, with many pointing to the contracting cannabis industry as a primary reason. What would you do as supervisor to stimulate economic growth generally and give Humboldt County's legal cannabis industry the best chance to succeed?

Bushnell: As a small business owner, Bushnell says there's no question times are tough, adding that her store is in the midst of the worst two-month stretch she's seen the 10 years she's owned it. "Cannabis alone is not going to be enough for this county," she says, adding that promoting countywide tourism in a coordinated effort will be key rather than the current approach, which she sees as siloed. Making Humboldt visitor-friendly also means homeowners and business owners taking pride in curb appeal, making sure the community is putting its best foot forward. When it comes to cannabis, she says the county needs to realize it needs to treat small farmers — those cultivating 2,000 square feet or less — differently. The one-size-fits-all approach isn't working, she says, adding that we need "to give smaller farmers some relief."

DeVries: Pointing back to the amnesty program that would allow long-time growers to work toward compliance while still paying taxes and cultivating their land, DeVries says his mill-to-solar program would also create well-paying jobs and stimulate the economy. The psychedelic therapy, he says, could also prove an economic boon. "We can be a frontrunner," he says, explaining that Humboldt could recruit newly graduated therapists from San Francisco to start a pilot program here, which could in turn create a medical tourism industry. DeVries adds that the county should explore niche manufacturing that would have economic benefits while also addressing the housing shortage, like converting shipping containers to living quarters or tiny home fabrication.

Fennell: A lot is already being done to put the regulated local cannabis industry on good footing, Fennell says, pointing to Project Trellis, the county's grant and small loan program to help the industry expand and meet compliance costs, adding that the first call yielded 70 applications for funds. The county has also dedicated funding to marketing the local industry, Fennell says, and was recently awarded $1.3 million in state equity funds that will support cannabis businesses. "In short, the county is doing a lot to make sure there's a solid foundation for what everybody hopes will be an important part of a diversified economy," Fennell says, stressing the need to also lift up other industries.

French: The economic downturn is real, French says, adding that parts of Garberville and Fortuna look like "ghost towns" with closed storefronts. "It's scary," he says. French says Eureka should double down and "embrace" cannabis by making it easier for people to open smoking lounges. On the county level, he says the cannabis permitting process has been a mess, adding that there are also just "outlaws" who refuse to come into compliance. In the regulated industry, he says the government needs to "get out of the way" and make the process easier. He also worries that when it comes to regulated cannabis, we're "dealing with a commodity that there's just too much of."

McKaskle: The state of California has let Humboldt County down, McKaskle says, pointing to un-kept promises in the Proposition 64 campaign that pledged to cap cannabis farm sizes and protect small producers. "In so many ways, the horse is way out of the barn," he says, adding that the county should focus on promoting tourism "on our terms because we're quirky and because we have some of the most beautiful trees in the world." He says he'd like to see that effort also highlight the area's small food producers, adding that there also needs to be a local campaign to get people to support local businesses and shop local. Finding a way to produce energy locally, he says, would also be a major step toward creating a "diverse, sustainable economy."

SECOND DISTRICT QUESTIONAIRES:

Sean DeVries
  • Sean DeVries
Sean DeVries

What are the two biggest challenges facing the Second District and what are your plans to address them?

First, the economy is hurting from the poor handling of cannabis permitting. We can streamline and improve the permitting process, allowing more farmers to be part of our local economy.

Second, we are poorly prepared for climate change related impacts. We need to bolster our local grids, shore up our roads and prepare for sea-level rise. It'll be here in the next decade or so and we have made almost no preparations. We must act now to have any chance of prospering in the future. We can start immediately with utility-grade solar at old mill sites around the county, and move on to installing a floating platform, offshore wind power plant, and lastly, we can sue big oil to offset the costs of bolstering the county against climate change impacts.

What is county government's largest flaw in responding to residents' needs and how do you plan to fix it?

Access to information and services. District Two is far away from the county seat. As a result, it is a burden for residents in our district to receive information and services from the county. I will improve access by implementing remote access for county meetings and fast tracking the construction of the Southern Humboldt County Campus.

Why are you the right person to represent the Second District for the next four years?

I am efficient and effective, with extensive experience in setting up operational systems. I have a background in real estate, finance and law. I have helped draft regulations that have been enacted in California, and can use that expertise to help Humboldt move forward. Most importantly, I am a zealous advocate for the 99 percent.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 37

City/town of residence? Redway

Where did you grow up? California and New England coasts, mainly

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? A few years. Our family is second-generation Humboldt.

Can you please provide a brief education history? Dropped out of college and went to work. Completed a legal education via apprenticeship to a civil rights and cannabis attorney.

Can you please provide a brief work history? Mostly real estate finance, real estate, law and sales related endeavors. Formulated nutritional products and had a retail nutrition store, as well.

What is your current occupation? Operations consultant

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign for county supervisor? Every time someone thanks me for running.

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? Big Fish

What is your favorite book? Fart Proudly, by Benjamin Franklin

What magazine do you read most regularly? Slashdot and Naked Capitalism (both online)

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be? "Fight the Good Fight"

Who is your favorite fictional politician? Ned Stark (from Game of Thrones), although he tends to lose his head over things

Who is your favorite real-life politician? Feel the Bern

Dogs or cats? Dogs

What is your favorite hobby? Finding rocks in the river.

What would your superpower be and how would you use it? Whatever it takes to fix this mess we're in.

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

Ev'ryone Fromboldt

Together on the frontline

Together we win

Rick French
  • Rick French

Rick French

What are the two biggest challenges facing the Second District and what are your plans to address them?

Our county government has massive corruption within the courthouse and I have been battling for two and a half years to rid the county of this blight in our leadership. The public will soon be made aware of the many conflicts of interests of two board members in particular. These conflicts cloud most of the decisions made by the board. With honest, trustworthy leadership, the county can honestly begin to look at the challenges ahead. In terms of scale, the global warming crisis is the fight of our lifetime. We need total unity of all citizens to do the best we are able in answering the bell in this fight. I also think that the Citizens United decision, and the influx of big money is a continuing disaster that needs to be undone. It has resulted in even greater inequality among our citizens and further separating the haves from the have-nots. I plan to replace my corrupt District Two supervisor and join Supervisors Wilson, Madrone and Berkowitz on a pro-action, progressive board that is transparent and appreciates having an active, informed community to work together to tackle the challenges we face.

What is county government's largest flaw in responding to residents' needs and how do you plan to fix it?

I consider corruption a gigantic flaw that has to be corrected before honest progress can be made. Lack of transparency and poor communication among the scattered agencies of the county. The fraudulent minor subdivision at the heart of my dispute with the county was signed off by all required agencies of the county. Need I say more?

Why are you the right person to represent the Second District for the next four years?

The county was complicit in an attempt on my life and I will not be intimidated or deterred from pursuing all those who have harmed my family with their actions.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 75

City/town of residence? Hydesville

Where did you grow up? Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? 40 years

Can you please provide a brief education history? University of Maryland; basic and advanced training in the U.S. Army.

Can you please provide a brief work history? Manager/operator of Hydesville Water District from 1992 to 2000, worked at Eel River sawmills and a Fortuna cabinet company before that.

What is your current occupation? Retired

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign for county supervisor? The citizens of Garberville, Rio Dell and Fortuna who qualified me to run for supervisor.

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? Anything David Attenborough has produced

What is your favorite book? Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

What magazine do you read most regularly? I cancelled the New Yorker a few years back and the only magazine in the house is Humboldt Insider, which reveals to me all the places in Humboldt that I have yet to visit.

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be? "Long Way Home"

Who is your favorite fictional politician? None

Who is your favorite real-life politician? Bernie Sanders

Dogs or cats? Dogs

What is your favorite hobby? Woodworking

What would your superpower be and how would you use it? I would love to have the ability to confront wrongdoers face to face and make them tongue tied when they are speaking lies.

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

Hawk valley down slope

Damned interference

Sycophants required

click to enlarge Michelle Bushnell
  • Michelle Bushnell
Michelle Bushnell

What are the two biggest challenges facing the Second District and what are your plans to address them?

The current economic downturn has greatly affected the people of the Second District and I believe that there are solutions we can implement on the county level to help fortify our citizens for the future. We need to tap into our strengths and work cohesively as a county to promote a shift in this realm. Things like tourism can certainly be bolstered to bring more money into this economy. We have to work smart in the cannabis industry to make sure that this thriving industry lands its profits right here on our home doorsteps. Logging and fishing are still viable industries in our communities that can be regulated in such a way that they can be profitable without having devastating effects on our ecosystem.

A second challenge facing not just Humboldt County but the entire world is climate change. We need to be serious about our contribution to correcting this global issue. We know that we need alternative energy sources and a reduction in our carbon footprint. I think this issue is paramount in the coming years and I intend to consult all the experts to find the most productive solutions to this problem. It really hits home for our citizens when we have these periods of time without power sources, and our loved ones are cold, or can't operate machines that are vital to their survival, etc. This is a serious issue and I intend to take it on as such.

What is county government's largest flaw in responding to residents' needs and how do you plan to fix it?

A prevalent feeling that I have been hearing is that the people of the Second District have felt under represented. Specifically, people have had the concern that while they feel like they might be heard, the follow-through has not been evident. I would like to make sure there is not a disconnect between the voices of the people of our communities and what is actually happening on the county level.

Why are you the right person to represent the Second District for the next four years?

I think to answer this question I have to draw from my family history right here in the Second District. I am a fourth-generation resident. Together, my husband and I have raised our six children here. We are so invested in this area, this is where my heart is. Having this strong connection to this district means that I have a serious devotion to seeing the wrongs righted. I want everyone to thrive now, for our future generations. I get up every day with the goal of leaving my community better than I found it and being a positive influence, or tool, for the greater good.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 49

City of residence? Blocksburg

Where did you grow up? Garberville

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? 49 years

Can you please provide a brief education history? I am a South Fork High School graduate.

Can you please provide a brief work history? SoHum Hospital, seven years; school bus driver, 13 years; retail store, 10 years; rancher; sustainable timber production and logging truck business.

What is your current occupation? Rancher, retail store owner, logging and trucking.

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign for county supervisor? 

I won't list three official endorsements because honestly I do not feel that all the endorsements have been decided yet at this point. But I will say that I am overwhelmed by the support I get each day as I campaign. Groups of people or individuals who I would have never expected to be in my corner have come out and said, "Hey, I'm in your corner and I believe you are the person for the job." I am honored by people's confidence and I aim to make them proud.

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? I really don't watch movies or TV much, I couldn't say.

What is your favorite book? My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

What magazine do you read most regularly? Horse & Rider, or Reader's Digest

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be? "Back Where I Come From" by Kenny Chesney

Who is your favorite fictional politician? Elizabeth McCord from Madam Secretary

Who is your favorite real-life politician? George H. W. Bush

Dogs or cats? Dogs

What is your favorite hobby? Ranch life with my husband and family. I enjoy all the chores and joys of a job well done. It's so beautiful here in Humboldt, working on the ranch with the ones I love is my favorite hobby because it really grounds me and reminds me of my roots. I was raised on a ranch in SoHum by my grandparents. I cherish this connection.

What would your superpower be and how would you use it? To fly would be amazing. How quickly I could get from point A to point B and what an incredible view that would be.

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

Communication

Is a vital element

Of community

click to enlarge Michael McKaskle
  • Michael McKaskle
Michael McKaskle

What are the two biggest challenges facing the Second District and what are your plans to address them?

1) It's response to climate change, both adapting to it and avoiding more of it, as well as how we harness our economy to adapt in ways that keep Humboldt County a great place to live. 2) How do we steward our natural resources to provide longterm economic benefits to county residents?

Solutions for both challenges are related. The first step is to recognize that our current economic system has failed us, externalizing costs of production onto the environment and human misery makes a mockery of the concept of a free market but is great at concentrating wealth. We need science-based advice with full environmental accounting of our options. We need solar panels, micro grids and batteries. We need to identify where marshes can move inland, where to stop more development and where to put seawalls. We need fuel load reduction for fire safety and river health. We need to support small regenerative farmers to thrive and be able to market their produce to the world. Every dollar spent on locally produced clean energy is a dollar that stays in our community.

What is county government's largest flaw in responding to residents' needs and how do you plan to fix it?

County government's largest flaw is they do not have the resources they need to maintain our current situation, let alone proactively address even a partial list of it's challenges. Fixing that requires people earn money and spend as much locally as possible with enough left for taxes. Many rural residents need to produce income from their land. I think a limited CBD hemp growing program could help with that, as would programs supporting micro licenses for THC hemp. Raising the IHHS wage would keep more elderly people in their homes and put more money in consumers' pockets. Competitive salaries retain competent county employees.

I would work hard for a public bank to help finance projects and would call for that peace dividend we were promised long ago. We need split roll Proposition 13 reform, which will be on the ballot in November. More and more properties, especially commercial ones, are owned by single purpose LLCs that never die or sell the property. They sell themselves and the property is never reassessed. Since the 1970s, the proportion of property tax paid by residences has doubled while the total take has not kept up with inflation, crippling services.

Why are you the right person to represent the Second District for the next four years?

I have the local knowledge. Twenty-four years of living in Humboldt County after visiting the family ranch regularly and almost a dozen years serving in local government have given me a broad perspective. I have never had to run for office before because I served on a "little, unimportant" board that goes looking for members. It turns out those boards are important and provide a huge education.

I have almost a dozen years broadcast engineering experience for KMUD news and talk shows, as well as having hosted my own show for six years interviewing people about biology, ecology, politics, economics, materials science, history, archaeology, journalism and more. This has provided behind-the-scenes and in-depth views on many issues, local and beyond, and gotten me accustomed to speaking to an audience.

I have broad interests and am inquisitive and enjoy playing around with ideas and combining philosophies and adopting perspectives. As an example, initially I was very leery of local hemp production, fearing clouds of pollen and an environmentally destructive CBD rush in the hills. Upon reflection, I envisioned a hemp production ordinance that could allow an economic avenue, while protecting the environment and our regulated farmers.

I can sit through many meetings, lose votes and continue on. I understand that people can disagree about some things but still be valuable allies on other issues.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 49

City of residence? Redway

Where did you grow up? Berkeley

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? 25 years

Can you please provide a brief education history? (No answer provided)

Can you please provide a brief work history? Mental health aid, lift operator, glass science technician, papermaker, land manager, laborer, board member, broadcast engineer

What is your current occupation? Campaign manager, paper seller.

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign for county supervisor? 

I have hardly asked for endorsements ... What is important to me is how happy people I have known for ages are that I am running and how ready for change people I have met canvassing are.

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? (No answer provided)

What is your favorite book? A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick

What magazine do you read most regularly? I first noticed The Economist when I was 13 and read regularly from age 17 until several months ago. I read the North Coast Journal weekly. Naked Capitalism is my favorite website.

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be?  "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley

Who is your favorite fictional politician? Dwayne Camacho

Who is your favorite real-life politician? Sanna Marin

Dogs or cats? My dog died several years ago and a new one has not found me yet. I am currently taming a stray cat.

What is your favorite hobby? Having fun.

What would your superpower be and how would you use it? A Midas touch of sots. I can turn it on and off, so as to avoid accidents, and it turns rock into Lithium. I make batteries with it.

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

Nature batting last

Critical inflection point

Vote for McKaskle

click to enlarge Estelle Fennell
  • Estelle Fennell
Estelle Fennell

What are the two biggest challenges facing the Second District and what are your plans to address them?

Public Safety (law enforcement, fire safety, roads) is a big challenge. The second District is one of the largest, with two cities, several towns and widespread rural residential areas. 24/7 law enforcement and fire protection services are the cornerstone of a safe and stable community and economy. I will continue my work to fund and support the work of both paid and unpaid emergency responders. I am also working to fund call boxes on rural roads and bring more cell coverage where possible. Regarding roads and infrastructure, while I have been successful in working with public works, Sen. Mike McGuire and state parks to address some of the most challenging road fixes, I will continue my work to ensure that the day-to-day maintenance is funded and road workers supported.

The transition into a legal cannabis industry is a very big challenge, when it comes to the implementation of state cannabis regulations at the county level. Any commercial cannabis permit that Humboldt County issues must meet state standards. I will continue to work with state legislators, local officials, the legal cannabis industry and local residents to ensure the success of the legal industry while protecting the consumer, the environment and the community.

What is county government's largest flaw in responding to residents' needs and how do you plan to fix it?

Infrastructure, especially county roads, is a huge issue throughout the county. We are dealing with decades of deferred maintenance, which just compounds itself the longer it remains inadequately addressed. Senate Bill 1 (gas tax) funds are crucial to bringing our roads up to better standards and, as a member of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Board of Directors, I worked to defeat a proposition that would have repealed that tax. As supervisor, I support allocating funds from Measure Z and other revenue streams to address ongoing problems and I continue to support working with local contractors in outlying areas to help with the upkeep of the more remote areas. This public/private partnership model ensures that those who travel those roads on a regular basis are familiar with problems as they arise and can address them before they become bigger and more costly problems. And it frees up county workers to work on more complex issues.

Why are you the right person to represent the Second District for the next four years?

I have the experience, the strong leadership skills, the energy and a proven track record of being able to work with people and getting things done in my district and at the county level and beyond.

During my two terms in office, I have worked hard to develop trusted working relationships at the county, regional, state and federal levels, which is essential for me, as Second District supervisor, to bring needed resources, services and funding to our rural district and county.

I am involved on many different levels in the work of helping our county build a stable and sustainable future and we are making good progress. I want to continue that work and am uniquely qualified in that regard.

Some areas I am deeply involved in are: Working on returning essential water flows to the Eel River with the Potter Valley Two Basin Partnership; working with my colleagues at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) on renewable local energy projects; the state-mandated creation of a Sustainable Groundwater Management Agency for the Eel Watershed; working with numerous partners on the county, state and regional level to move the brand-new cannabis industry forward; building a robust tourism industry in Humboldt.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 70

City/town of residence? Redway

Where did you grow up? Ireland

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? 36-plus years

Can you please provide a brief education history? Studied languages at Dante Aligheri, Rome, Italy; studied art at Corcoran Museum School of Art and Brooklyn Museum School of Art

Can you please provide a brief work history? 

Humboldt County Supervisor (2012 – Present); Executive Director HumCPR (2008 -2011); News Director at KMUD Radio (1990-2007); professional graphic artist worked in numerous markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Humboldt County, Dublin, Ireland, Rome, Italy, Copenhagen, Denmark (1970-1990).

What is your current occupation? Second District supervisor

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign for county supervisor? 

I have received numerous endorsements from local and state elected officials, unions, community leaders and voters throughout my district, and every single one is very important to me. (For a list of my supporters please go to my website www.EstelleFennell.org.)

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? 

Too many to mention

What is your favorite book? 

Too many to mention

What magazine do you read most regularly? 

New Yorker, Art Forum, National Geographic

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be?

"Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw

Who is your favorite fictional politician? 

Elizabeth McCord from Madam Secretary

Who is your favorite real-life politician? 

Not going there

Dogs or cats? 

Both

What is your favorite hobby? 

Hiking, boogie boarding and tennis

What would your superpower be and how would you use it?

Flying — so I could get to all the corners of my district in nanoseconds

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

A brighter future

Working together

Gets things done

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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

Bio:
Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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