Nevada County Board of Supervisor candidates make their case to voters
Special to the Sierra Sun
Occupation: Nevada County supervisor, chairwoman of the board
Hometown: Nevada County
Occupation: General building contractor and private firefighter
Hometown: Nevada County
Occupation: Small business owner
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Three candidates are looking to fill the Nevada County Board of Supervisors District 1 seat in the March 3 primary election. Incumbent Heidi Hall will face challengers Michael Taylor, building contractor; and Deborah Wilder, small business owner.
Incumbent District 2 Supervisor Ed Scofield is running unopposed for his seat while Hardy Bullock is running unopposed for District 5, after incumbent Richard Anderson announced he would not seek reelection.
If no candidate achieves at least 50% of the vote, plus one vote, the top two vote-getters will proceed to a November runoff.
Heidi Hall is campaigning on the county’s accomplishments over the past three years, particularly in addressing homelessness and fire preparedness.
“I believe I have been an effective and visionary supervisor in my three plus years on the board,” Hall said. “We have started new programs such as hiring a homelessness coordinator, funding the Fire Safe Council for increased vegetation clearing, purchasing property for a homeless resource center and transitional housing, implementing a cannabis ordinance, funding broadband expansion, investing in housing infrastructure and more. I am excited about taking them to the next stage, as well as refining our building and code compliance processes, and refreshing our role in economic development.”
If reelected, Hall said she would continue prioritizing fire mitigation efforts while working on other issues critical to the county.
“Clearly, more wildfire preparedness has to be a top priority, including increased vegetation clearing and work on evacuation routes and public awareness,” Hall said. “I will advocate for legislative fixes to our grave fire insurance crisis, promote improvements in our building and code processes, and continue to work for more affordable housing, homeless services, and additional cannabis business licenses.”
According to Hall, who at a candidate forum signaled support for a tax to increase revenue for fire mitigation, county finances will have to be watched carefully.
“I support our current unanimous approach for fiscal prudence, to make sure we can remain whole and continue to provide essential services to the entire county when the next recession hits,” Hall said. “I am an advocate of using our General Fund monies cautiously but wisely to invest, when possible, in programs that will pay themselves back via a better economy.”
Michael Taylor said a lack of growth in Nevada County over the last decade in terms of housing, jobs and economic development led him to run for the supervisor seat and believes his experience in construction, logging, fire fighting and with cannabis farmers will allow him to offer industry friendly leadership.
“I strongly believe that this stagnation has resulted in a lack of county general funds, which could’ve supported projects like a community senior center, expanded fire clearance and the establishment of a reliable power source,” Taylor said. “I’m concerned with the with a lack of healthy and smart growth.”
According to Taylor, if elected he would focus on economic development and increasing the housing inventory, along with a focus on reorganizing the county’s cannabis and building permit processes to make them more streamlined.
“I want to instill simple, streamlined (Community Development Agency) permitting processes and lower fees. I want to rebuild the community’s trust with the CDA so all projects, big or small will get permitted, will increase the CDA’s bottom line, raise housing inventory and raise the county’s assessed values,” Taylor said. “I also want to move cannabis permitting and oversight responsibilities to the Agriculture Department. I believe this industry will generate thousands, if not millions, of dollars of revenue for the county’s General Fund from permitting fees and taxes.”
Taylor said he also supports encouraging staff to be more lenient and flexible in their interpretation of building codes to allow for more building to be permitted and wants the county to reevaluate its “rural owner-builder code,” Title 25, which other counties have used to encourage people in rural areas to build housing with less regulation.
He also supports consolidating fire districts and wastewater districts to reduce overhead.
Former Nevada County Republican Party Chairwoman Deborah Wilder said she hopes her experience as a business woman and emergency preparedness instructor will allow her to bring solutions to the county sooner than they have been delivered before.
“I saw things in the county that didn’t seem to be getting done, so I decided to step up and spend the time needed to improve fire safety, homelessness and housing, internet service, senior issues and more,” Wilder said.
Wilder said she would focus on emergency preparedness, vegetation management, evacuation plans and reinstating the Community Emergency Response Team program with the county in order to give people the ability to respond for themselves and their neighbors during a disaster situation. She said that same community-based approach is needed throughout the issues the county faces.
“Some of the biggest challenges the county faces could be addressed through more community-based effort and solutions,” Wilder said. “Solutions for emergency preparedness can best be addressed by the county, the various fire agencies, the Firewise Council and the Fire Safety Council… all working together.”
Unsatisfied with the timeline and practicality of some of the county’s more ambitious goals, such as a homeless resource center, Wilder said she would focus on supporting local organizations to provide housing and other homelessness services.
“I would rather find a way to help those nonprofits who are already doing a good job of housing and providing services to the homeless to expand those services,” Wilder said. “Maybe that includes providing access to county buildings not in use, or an expedited building protocol for new construction or expansion or a low cost loan. Maybe temporary trailers could be used to house the initial homeless resource center. This is faster and cheaper than the current county plan.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.