May 16, 2014

Incumbent Merced supervisor wants to stay current course

An election profile of Merced County District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis, who is seeking re-election this June.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a four-part series profiling the candidates for Merced County supervisor for District 3.

Incumbent District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis said during a March candidates forum that his goal was to “continue what we’ve been doing in the last three years.”

“I’ve made things happen in District 3 in the last three years,” he said during that forum held by the Atwater-Merced Tea Party. “I’m not looking to change anything in how I’ve done things.”

Davis, 70, who is facing three challengers, did not respond to multiple requests to be interviewed for a Merced Sun-Star election profile. The following is a compilation the supervisor’s thoughts on various issues based on previous interviews and candidate debates.

Davis is a 22-year Air Force veteran. District 3 covers Atwater, north Merced, Franklin-Beachwood and McSwain. He is being challenged by Tony Dossetti, Daron McDaniel and William Snyder III.

At the March forum, Davis advocated for moving governments out of the way of business growth in Merced County and allowing the private sector to make progress on projects. He pointed to the establishment of a “one-stop-shop” to streamline the permitting process for businesses as a positive way to eliminate red tape and bolster economic growth.

Davis said good things are happening at Castle Commerce Center, referring to technology giant Google, which entered into two agreements to lease land at the former Air Force base.

“It puts Castle on the map,” Davis said. “Anytime you take a company by the name of Google, it opened doors and windows for other companies to come in and look at Castle.”

When it comes to the county’s projected $9.3 million deficit, Davis said in an earlier interview that he expected the deficit to be less, estimating it to be around $4 million or $5 million.

“I think the retirement packages and furloughs are what put us higher this year,” said Davis, who is also vice chairman of the board. “It will depend on if the revenues continue to go up a little bit. I hope the revenues increase more than we predicted.”

Davis said he doesn’t believe the numbers will change drastically in the next few months, but the county could use some of its one-time reserves to help offset the deficit.

“I’m not projecting any layoffs. We do have some reserves, but as Mr. (Merced County CEO Jim) Brown said, we need to use that sparingly,” he said.

At the forum in March, Davis told a room full of residents the board has done an “excellent job” of balancing a budget in the last three years. He said Merced County faced a $20 million deficit when he got elected, but the board reduced it to $10 million, then trimmed it to $5 million.

Davis said the supervisors reduced the county workforce and got rid of some vacant, unfilled positions.

“We made great strides,” he said at the forum. “We cut positions. We laid people off – not as many as I thought.”

Davis said at the forum that the issue with gangs will “decrease drastically” because of the passage of the marijuana ordinance in September 2013. He faced strong criticism after saying the Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II refused to prosecute marijuana cases. Davis later retracted the comment, telling the Sun-Star he meant to say Morse was reluctant.

Morse produced numbers that showed his office prosecuted 1,328 marijuana cases in the three years since Davis was elected to office. Marijuana cases make up more than 30 percent of all his office’s drug prosecutions, Morse said.

It appears that Davis supports the supervisors’ discretionary funds, a $40,000 allotment to each of the supervisors to be used on projects of their choosing. “Look around you,” he said, referring to the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall at Fifth and Broadway in Atwater. “Discretionary funds were used to improve this building — the door you walk through, the bathrooms.”

When asked about whether the Board of Supervisors should have a code of ethics, Davis responded by saying, “The board does have a code of ethics, we just don’t live by it.”

The primary election will be held June 3.

MONDAY: A profile of candidate Tony Dossetti

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