Daron McDaniel might be the youngest candidate in the race for District 3 supervisor, but the 49-year-old said his life experiences make him the best guy for the job.
McDaniel is the owner of a small production company, the founder of a nonprofit organization that supports high school sports and a congressional aide to Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock.
The Illinois native has lived in Merced County most of his life – and he’s proud to say he’s not a “good old boy.”
“People are ready for change in Merced County as a whole – I know I am – and that’s why I’m running,” he said. McDaniel said he decided to run for supervisor so he can implement positive changes, much like the ones he sees in Stanislaus County.
“I’ve seen the good things going on in counties around us, and I want to implement that here in Merced County,” McDaniel said. For example, a multi-agency gang task force has been successful in Stanislaus County and McDaniel says it’s needed for Merced County.
“I think the heart of the drugs is the gangs, and we need to fight gangs,” he said. “We have to empower the families, work with faith-based organizations and bring the community together.”
McDaniel is a strong opponent of the Board of Supervisors’ discretionary funds. He said the $40,000 yearly allotment is a “slush fund” that could be put to better use, especially in light of a $9.3 million deficit in the county’s projected budget next year.
“We need to do away with it. The county’s in trouble, and that money needs to be put in the general fund where it can be used effectively,” McDaniel said. “It’s an earmark, and I’m against earmarks.”
McDaniel said he would shrink the county’s deficit by privatizing county services and departments whenever possible. Private companies can provide services at a cheaper rate, he said, while still being held accountable for a high level of service.
McDaniel does not support employee layoffs to close the gap but believes in re-evaluating the county’s current salary structure and job classifications.
Privatizing Castle Commerce Center is also the key to its growth, McDaniel said. By having a private company managing Castle, McDaniel said it would eliminate complaints about the lengthy process to buy Castle’s land and attract larger companies.
“We need a vetted master developer to market our base,” McDaniel said. “If the county continues to be too involved in it, it’s too long of a process. I can’t even count how many small businesses I’ve talked to that have wanted to do something at Castle, but because it’s too hard to do something, they move on.”
McDaniel said several big companies, such as Blue Diamond in Turlock, tried to do business in Merced County, but moved on to Stanislaus County where they were able to get things done faster.
Letting a professional company manage Castle would also free up the county’s community and economic development director to focus solely on economic development, rather than dividing his time between the two ventures.
McDaniel also advocates for holding Board of Supervisors meetings in the evenings, similar to most City Council meetings. The supervisors currently meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays twice a month.
“They have to look at what their constituents want,” he said, “and having them in the morning all the time makes it impossible for people who work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
McDaniel said the Board of Supervisors needs to have a code of ethics as well as ongoing ethics training. “That code of ethics is one of the things the public should judge us on,” McDaniel said. “There needs to be a code of ethics and it needs to be online for everyone to access.”
The primary election will be held June 3. The incumbent, Supervisor Linn Davis, did not return multiple calls to be interviewed for an election profile.
WEDNESDAY: A candidate profile of William Snyder III.