County supervisor Drew Bedwell resigns |

County supervisor Drew Bedwell resigns

By David Mirhadi

Sun news service

Nevada County District 3 Supervisor Drew Bedwell, elected on a property-rights platform in November 2002, announced Tuesday he will resign from the board because of health reasons.

Bedwell’s resignation, which shocked his fellow supervisors, allies and former adversaries, takes effect June 2.

In a statement, Bedwell said he was diagnosed Monday with Hodgkin’s disease and that he would soon begin clinical trials for the disease at Stanford Medical Center. Hodgkin’s disease is a cancer that strikes the body’s lymphatic system. According to the Mayo Clinic, there were 7,400 new cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001 and 1,300 deaths from the disease that year.

“As you can imagine, I must direct my energies to my family and the greatest battle of my life,” Bedwell said in the statement. “I will succeed, but I cannot serve you as well during the process.”

In his statement, Bedwell said he’d be willing to volunteer his services until a replacement is found by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor could appoint someone to serve until November, thus opening the seat for election until Bedwell’s term ends in 2006.

“I’ve taken pride in my work for you and Nevada County,” Bedwell said in his statement. “Many changes have occurred during the last year and a half, yet much more needs to be done. Watching and functioning from the sidelines, while not the optimum, will likely have its merits.”

Bedwell, a property manager, rose to prominence as the founder of Citizens for Property Rights and led the drive to end Natural Heritage 2020, a much-debated Nevada County land-use plan.

Bedwell also was a proponent of Measure D, a failed 2003 ballot measure that would have compensated property owners whose land had been devalued by county regulations.

Truckee Town Councilman Ted Owens, who will take a seat on the board as the District 5 supervisor next January, said he heard about Bedwell’s illness on Tuesday, but hasn’t had a chance to speak with him.

“I feel for his family,” Owens said. “I think he’s made a very honorable decision. I know Nevada County is very near and dear to his heart.”

District 1 Supervisor Peter Van Zant, like many of Bedwell’s colleagues, chose to focus on his health and not his politics Tuesday.

“This has taken me totally by surprise,” Van Zant said. “Certainly, concern for his health and family are my No. 1 concern.”

Bedwell, who wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, defeated incumbent Supervisor Bruce Conklin by 19 votes, a victory that was cemented after a recount. Contacted Tuesday, Conklin said he and Bedwell hadn’t spoken much in the 17 months since their pitched battle for the Grass Valley-area supervisor seat.

“It’s time for (Drew) to focus on his health,” Conklin said. “My heart certainly goes out to his family.”

Margaret Urke, executive director of the California Association of Business, Property Owners and a Bedwell ally, said: “My prayers are with Drew and Ruth. We’ll certainly miss Drew on the board, but we just want him to get well.”

Bedwell’s has often been an opinionated and conservative voice in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers. When the board voted in June 2003 to shelve the Natural Resources Report, a key component of Natural Heritage 2020, Bedwell, a staunch opponent of the wide-ranging document, told his fellow supervisors that he “would love to shoot the last bullet in the puppy.” The next week, pro-NH 2020 backers showed up to the board chambers en masse, one even dressed up as a dog with Bedwell’s quote emblazoned across the chest.

“Drew is nothing if exceedingly colorful,” said Van Zant, whose votes have often been the opposite of Bedwell’s. “He and I had our disagreements, but he worked hard as a supervisor.”

Owens said that no matter what a person’s political stripes, Bedwell’s illness was “deeply saddening.”

“When something like this happens, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Owens said.

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