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Five Republicans will control county board of supervisors

As the electoral dust settled Wednesday, area liberals found themselves in a place where conservative-leaning candidates had tightened control of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.”(I feel) kind of like this weather – drab,” said Sage Huntington, as cold rain drenched western Nevada County Wednesday. Huntington said she was surprised by the success of Nate Beason and John Spencer, Republican-supported candidates for the nonpartisan Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Beason topped Olivia Diaz in the county’s Nevada City-based District 1, and Spencer bested Bruce Conklin and Linda Stevens in Grass Valley-centered District 3. Likely the most environmentally focused candidate, Conklin, was bested by Spencer, a land surveyor who will fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of fiery property-rights advocate Drew Bedwell. Spencer – Bedwell’s favored successor – will probably take office on Dec. 7.Beason and Ted Owens, who is replacing Supervisor Barbara Green, will take office in January. Spencer, Beason, Owens and current supervisors Robin Sutherland and Sue Horne have all been endorsed by the Republican Party. “I feel very comfortable that we’ll have a Board of Supervisors that will be very good for Nevada County,” said Tony Gilchrease, the chairman of the county’s Republican Party. Spencer, Beason and Owens are expected to work well with Horne and Sutherland, with whom they share interests in limited government and property rights. “I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of the election,” Sutherland said, adding she is looking forward to working with the three new supervisors to update the county’s governing document and address transportation, affordable housing, sanitation and water-quality issues.But Sutherland said she doesn’t think the new board will unite behind a conservative platform.”I think that the people that were elected are representative of the desires of their constituency,” Sutherland said.That sentiment was echoed by Owens, who represents Truckee and the rest of District 5 on the board.”It’s a nonpartisan seat at the board level, and we’ve got to do the work of the entire county and all the citizens.” Owens said. “The one thing that’s true no matter who you are is you know you’re not going to please all the people; it’s impossible to do. “But I believe that there may be an opportunity there to move Nevada County forward and alleviate some of the bickering that I’ve observed down the hill,” he said.Just because it appears that it’s a like-minded board of Republicans, Owens said that doesn’t mean that the members will agree on everything. “I know everybody that I’ll be serving with and I guarantee there will be issues that we don’t agree on,” he said.Nevada County Green Party spokeswoman Beth Moore Haines, however, is worried because she doesn’t believe the board is reflective of the community.”I’m pretty concerned about the lack of balance,” Moore Haines said. “Although there have been adversarial moments on previous boards, at least the diversity of the county was fairly represented.”Outgoing District 5 supervisor Barbara Green is taking a wait-and-see approach to the new republican-dominated board.”They got elected by a majority, and there’s a majority now in the White House, Senate, House and the county Board of Supervisors, so now we just have to sit back and see what they’re going to do and what the effect is on the rest of us.”Gilchrease said the new board dynamic and fears about unbridled development in Nevada County are unfounded . “I think we all agree that we don’t want an awful lot of growth,” Gilchrease said, “that we all love the rural qualities of the county.”Owens concurred, saying “Development occurs as a market condition, not because the supervisors raise a flag up in the air that says ‘Come all developers, we’re ready to hand out permits.’ I believe that projects that come forth at the county level will be given the same level of scrutiny at the planning commission that they have in the past and the same level of scrutiny at the board level.”I’m raising my hand to uphold the general plan of the county of Nevada. So I think [unchecked development] is a fear that people have, but I think it’s a misplaced fear.”One thing Owens hopes will change is the divisive atmosphere that has plagued the board of supervisors during the past two years.”I would like to see respect and civility brought back to the process in the board chambers down the hill. That’s a promise that I will make,” Owens said.


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