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Fifth Takes 


I so anticipated the Journal's article about the Fifth District supervisor race ("Fifth and Goals," April 29). But my high hopes were dashed. The portrait of one candidate -- Ryan Sundberg -- was so badly drawn I don't know what to make of the others. One is brash, one is rich and one is bizarrely glib. How shallow can reporting get?

In the Journal's sketch of Ryan, two things stand out as inaccurate. One is the depiction of a small-town hick lacking experience in the Big World. Wrong. I support Ryan precisely because his real world experience is what we desperately need. In 14 years as council member of the Trinidad Rancheria, Ryan has been integral to obtaining millions of dollars of state and federal grants and stimulus funds to improve the local environment. He has also made sure the projects and their accounting are done to high standards, so that grants continue to roll in.

Projects Sundberg has been central to include repair of the northern end of Scenic Drive, state-of-the-art waste water treatment for Cher-Ae Heights Casino and the Seascape Restaurant, environmental analysis for the future Trinidad pier replacement and the Rancheria's General Plan. These efforts and others have made Trinidad Rancheria and its casino the best of neighbors. All the projects have hugely impacted the health and well-being of Trinidad Bay and the people who live there and are important to the region and beyond. This is experience we need on the board of Supervisors in these hard times, and Ryan is the only candidate to have it.

Another glaring inaccuracy was that "Sundberg places more emphasis on individual property rights than infill." I don't know what this means, but Ryan has expressed publicly his concern about the proposal to rely on population infill primarily in McKinleyville, something its residents rightfully worry may impact their still semi-rural lifestyle. He has emphasized that rural residents should not be forgotten in the rush to concentrate people in population centers. I know this well: I've only ever lived in unincorporated areas of the county and I don't want rural areas left out when budgets are set by the Board of Supervisors. I want a supervisor who represents all the parts of this big, rambling and demanding district and has the wherewithal to bring good things here to benefit us all.

Patty Clary, Trinidad



My husband and I attended the League of Women Voter's Forum at Azalea Hall April 26 to hear all the candidates for the Fifth District answer questions from the audience. It is good to have such a large number of willing candidates. The room was full. A forum such as this provides a great opportunity to listen to the answers from each candidate to questions from the audience, and to hear their additional thoughts and comments.

One candidate stood out: Patrick Cleary. To quote from one of your recent letters to the editor, "Imagine, an elected official with actual qualifications and experience that apply to the office ..."

Patrick Cleary is this kind of candidate. In 13 years he has become a well-known fix-it man for troubled organizations, using his business background as well as his ability to bring people together to be part of the solution. He was asked to be Interim Manager of the North Coast Co-op when they were going through hard times financially. For that work, he was named Nonprofit Leader of the Year.

He was interim General Manager of KHSU, and it was very clear from listening to the station that there was soon a real team of volunteers working with the staff running the place. It is such a pleasure to hear the difference. It's the same group of people, but now they introduce their own programs and take part in fundraising. There are the additional public service announcements touting the programs of our excellent community university.

The article in this week's Journal (April 29) describes Cleary's background in greater depth, but his experience and credentials are impressive. He owns a business, is President of the Humboldt Folklife Society and is a member of the Big Lagoon Community Services District (an elected position). I met him when he helped Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, working as a volunteer, on the capital campaign. He used his business experience to help come up with a realistic fundraising goal for the new facility, taking into account not just construction costs but long-term costs such as workman's compensation, 

Being a long-time resident, or having specialized knowledge/expertise in one area, or experience with one group of residents, doesn't qualify a person to be supervisor of the largest district in the county. We need someone who can see the larger picture -- not only the needs of the Fifth District but also those of the entire county, someone who can bring all the people together. In Patrick Cleary, we have the right person for the job.

Judy Webb, McKinleyville



You're sh-----g me. Really, really? No one on your staff paused to consider the cover art and theme for your April 29 cover story "Fifth and Goals"? The only time in modern history that a local Native American from a tribe in the Fifth District is running for a seat for the Fifth District, and you choose to put a cartoon image of all the candidates on a cartoon totem pole? Never-you-mind that totem poles were never a part of the tribal culture in this region of North America; could you come up with a more thoughtless and irreverent theme? Perhaps, you could have superimposed all of the candidates' faces over the Chief Wahoo image for the Cleveland Indians?

And another thing Mr. Sims or Mr. Burns or whomever from the Journal's brain trust would want to accept responsibility for the framing theme for this article: Orleans Elementary School is not one of our rural "under-performing schools." Indeed, Orleans may be under-funded but because of its atmosphere of safety and thoroughly engaged family-led volunteers, excellent teachers, principal and staff Orleans in the "modern era" has consistently scored high in ridiculously demanding standardized tests while producing successful students that have gone on to garner academic awards and recognition at Hoopa and Happy Camp high schools. Many students from Orleans have gone on to earn academic distinctions in colleges and universities as well as serving the United States at the highest levels in our military academies and Special Forces.

Good luck with the rest of your coverage for the Fifth District.

Terry Supahan, Orleans

Sweet Spot: Terry Supahan wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.

Ed. note: The Fifth District is indeed large. Apparently some readers did not recognize that the totem pole referenced on last week's cover was not an Ojibwe artifact; rather, it was the kitschy sculpture that white man Ernie Pierson carved and planted in his McKinleyville shopping center decades ago, which, for better or worse -- probably worse -- has come to serve as the defining image of that relatively landmarkless town, home to all four of the current candidates for Fifth District Supervisor.

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