Gustafson, Kershner make case to represent District 5 on Placer County Board of Supervisors
Two candidates are running for the Placer County Board of Supervisors District 5 seat in the March 3 primary election, incumbent Cindy Gustafson, who was appointed to the seat in April, and Chris Kershner, an Auburn business owner.
The district stretches from Kings Beach, south to Tahoma and west to the foothills of Auburn.
Gustafson was appointed to fill Jennifer Montgomery’s vacant District 5 seat on the Placer County Board of Supervisors after Montgomery announced that she would accept an appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom as director of the state’s Forest Management Task Force.
When she first took office Gustafson said she was hit with issues that were out of her control, including the rising rates of fire insurance and PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs.
“Just as I took office we started hearing how profound the impact was,” she said. “It’s really impacting my district and my community more than anywhere else in the county,” she said of the insurance rates.
Moving forward she said she will continue to look for ways to have a stronger voice with insurance companies. Managing forests to reduce the risk of wildfire is also on her priority list.
“Fire is huge and we have been doing a lot at the county level to invest in fuel reduction along the corridors to protect our communities,” she said.
Other key issues on her agenda include housing and transportation.
“As population grows in the Bay Area, it’s impacting all of us,” adding she will be advocating for other forms of transportation rather than just individual vehicles.
Gustafson has been a Tahoe resident for 37 years and previously served as the chief executive officer of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association for two years. Before her position at the resort association, she worked as general manager for the Tahoe City Public Utility District and was awarded General Manager of the Year by the California Special District Association in 2016.
She has also held various other positions on committees throughout the state including the California Fish and Game Commission and as chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Marine Life Protection Act.
“I’ve always loved being a public servant and trying to make a difference,” she said. “People want to be represented they want to know their tax dollars are being spent efficiently. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel like I couldn’t make a difference that was an improvement for people’s lives.”
Kershner spent his whole life in Placer County before attending college at the University of California San Diego. He then went on to obtain his master’s degree in business from San Jose State University. He now owns a retail store in downtown Auburn called Man Cave Auburn.
If he were elected, Kershner said he would hire a veteran to take over management of his store.
Kershner said he began his involvement in local government after being “violently attacked” by multiple members of Placer County law enforcement in February, 2017. Later that year three of the officers were arrested and fired.
He now says “making Placer County safer for everyone,” is his priority.
Following the incident he pursued legal action against the county, which he said helped identify 500 people who claimed they had been victims of police crimes.
“It was an awful experience but we’ve been able to collect over $4 million in compensation for people,” he said.
He then started Police Crime Victims, a nonprofit that helps those who have suffered from police crimes by offering counseling and legal services.
“We just try to offer advice and legal counsel and explore people’s options when they feel that they’ve been victims of police crimes,” he said.
Though he acknowledged that police crimes is a provocative topic he said he “is not trying to do anything too out of the ordinary.”
“We’re just trying to help people and make sure that the criminal justice system works in Placer County the way that it should.”
This includes working on the Placer County Probation Department which he said is “a total mess and needs an overhaul.”
Other issues he is focusing on is homelessness and mental health, fire safety and road safety specifically on Highway 49, where fatal accidents have occurred.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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