Brian Dahle, Pamela Swartz face off in state Senate race
Special to the Sierra Sun
Meet the candidates
Name: Brian Dahle
City of residence: Bieber
Occupation: Farmer and small business owner
Name: Pamela Swartz
City of residence: Nevada City
Occupation: Founder of a small skincare company that specializes in the treatment of acne; also a farrier/horse hoof trimmer specializing in barefoot trimming for just over 20 years.
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pamelaforsenate, where she will hold a Facebook Live at 5 p.m. Tuesdays
District 1 state Sen. Brian Dahle, who won his seat in a 2019 special election, heads into next month’s general election as the front-runner after getting the most votes in the March primary. Dahle, a Republican, will again face Democratic challenger Pamela Swartz, a Nevada County resident who took second place in the primary, and is looking to serve his first full term as a state senator.
Brian Dahle served on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors for 16 years. He was then a state assemblyman from 2012 until June 12, 2019, when he joined the state Senate.
In March, Dahle’s policy proposals mostly revolved around expanding broadband in rural districts like his own, and helping business owners and homeowners lower their fire insurance rates. Now, he says, wildfire issues and COVID-19 restrictions have strengthened his desire for more local control.
“I have always advocated for good management of the forests, I knew it was going to burn,” he said, adding he has written legislation to help thin the forest to make it healthier.
“In March, there was a lot of other issues,” Dahle said. “We didn’t have COVID, the economy was roaring. That all changed. I have always been an advocate of local control. … One size doesn’t fit all for the majority of my district.”
According to Dahle, he initially abided by state COVID-19 mandates.
“They said we were going to have a tsunami of patients, so we made the shelter in place. Wish I hadn’t given the governor that power, now. It’s been very painful to watch.”
Going forward, Dahle said, he wants local control of health and safety
“I’m going to continue to push for local control, move forward with reopening at the pace that makes sense for them,” he said.
Wildfire management is also an issue that requires more local control, he said.
“We need (better) planning in California, we need to focus on areas where there is the biggest damage,” Dahle said. “We have to stop the cycle. … We put forth policies that would help and they get killed in the committees.”
Pamela Swartz, a Nevada City resident running as a Democrat, previously served on the Nevada County cannabis Citizens Advisory Group. She has cited that health care is a right, wants to reduce homelessness and has said fire safety is a big concern.
She said her agenda remains the same, adding, “My opinions have not changed — they have become more permanently entrenched, and have more fervor.”
Climate change, which she calls an “existential threat,” is number one on her agenda.
Health care, Swartz said, has become more important with COVID-19.
“Certain things should not be for profit: health care, water, internet and utilities,” she said. “If you need them, you get them.”
The current pandemic has seen people come out of the hospital — many recently unemployed — after fighting for their lives, with hundreds of thousands of dollar in debt, she said.
The situation is “absolutely unfair,” Swartz said, promising to aggressively address such inequities.
“These are all things I was already saying, but now — because of COVID with people losing jobs, losing health care — I have leaned into those issues even harder,” she said. “People need more help now, not less. Corporate welfare is killing us, it is literally breaking the backs of the working class.”
Swartz insists, however, that she is not anti-capitalist, pointing out she runs two businesses.
“But corporations own politicians,” she said. “There’s a problem, especially when they cast ballots against the people they are supposed to represent.
“I am here to serve the people,” she added. “I wont forget who I am.”
Liz Kellar is a staff writer at The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. Contact her at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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