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Meet the candidates

Three seats on the Merced County Board of Supervisors are up for grabs in the June 3 election. The Sun-Star interviewed all eight candidates about why they're running, their in-office ambitions and their thoughts on a few key local issues.


Merced County Supervisors

DISTRICT ONE

(Celeste, Tuttle, city of Livingston, El Nido, Le Grand, Planada)





Incumbent John Pedrozo is running unopposed.



JOHN PEDROZO

Age: 50

Occupation: Merced County Supervisor

Political affiliation: Democrat

Education: graduate of Merced High School, attended Merced College

Family: married 29 years, three children

Hobbies: collecting baseball cards

Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: As a lifelong Merced County resident, I believe it's important to give back to the community. As an incumbent supervisor, I want to continue to fight for issues I believe in, like protection of agriculture, creating jobs and supporting public safety.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: Public safety and protecting agriculture. As a supervisor these past four years, I believe I've brought an important balance to the board. I believe that we have no greater responsibility than protecting the public from harm. I also believe that we must have a proper balance between growth and development to protect our agricultural engine.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors?

A: My proven and tested experience qualifies me to serve on the board. I'm proud to have served for four years on the Board of Supervisors, along with several years on the Merced Union High School District Board of Trustees. Additionally, as a farmer, I well understand many of the key issues facing our community and businesses. I understand the challenges of making ends meet.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: My campaign strategy is simple: to continue doing my job to the best of my ability and talking to the hard-working people of District 1 to determine their concerns and needs. In so doing, I'll be best positioned to retain my seat. Regarding how much I plan to spend, it's somewhat difficult to say as I don't have an opponent. However, it's fair to say that I will spend only what is necessary to allow me to continue fighting hard the people of my district.





Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: I'm very proud to serve with my colleagues. They are all incredibly good people. While we don't always agree on issues, I'm confident that all my colleagues well represent the interests of their districts. This, I believe, is the beauty of our representative democracy. Therefore, I would give the current board a high rating. I've seen firsthand the hard work and dedication that each board member gives.

There have been a land-use decision or two I've disagreed with over these past four years. I believe we must continue to strive to find that balance between responsible growth and protection of agriculture.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: First, my district is one of the most rural districts. Having three unincorporated areas dependent upon seasonal employment generates high unemployment. Second, we face a great deal of gang violence and agriculture related crimes. Third, it's one of the most geographically spread out districts, which requires regular communication with community leaders.



Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: As supervisor, I'm working on my fourth budget here at the county. I'm proud to say that we've been successful - through conservative planning - in putting money aside for potential challenges to come. My experience tells me that we need to continue to closely monitor our revenues, while carefully watching each and every expenditure. The bottom line is, like families do on a daily basis, we've got to watch our checkbook to make sure that our ends meet.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: I believe we need to carefully strike a balance between responsible growth and the protection of agriculture. While I haven't agreed with every land-use decision made, it's still important for me to fight for that balance. As we move forward with our general plan update, I will stand up to ensure that we only grow in a responsible way.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: First and foremost, I think Mr. Tatum has done an outstanding job as CEO. His experience, background and ability to get the job done impress me on a daily basis. Clearly, any successor of his will have big shoes to fill, as the CEO not only deals with five elected supervisors but also 28 department heads. The CEO is, in a sense, running a business with more than 2,000 employees and has to connect with each employee in one way or another.





Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: It's been a privilege these past four years to serve as supervisor for District 1. I thank each and every resident of my district for the opportunity and would greatly appreciate another four years so that we can fight for those issues most important to us.


DISTRICT TWO

(City of Merced)





Five candidates are running for the seat now held by Kathleen Crookham, who is not seeking reelection.





JOHN ALEXANDER

Age: 48

Occupation: Executive Director, Merced County Health Care Consortium

Political affiliation: Democrat

Education: bachelor’s degree in business, master’s in business administration from CSU Stanislaus

Family: married, two children, four grandchildren

Hobbies: bicycling, walking, kayaking

Web site: www.nontoxicpolitics.com





Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: I watch reports on our economic situation, health status and general malaise and realize we need to have fresh eyes, fresh ears and fresh plans of action if we are going to improve our future.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: We need to maximize the “quality of life” in Merced County; two issues that affect our citizens and attract new people are: First, the ability to provide for their families -- secure jobs with benefits and decent pay. Second, a positive environment to raise a family -- a good school system with integrated after-school activities. We have a lot of great people working on these projects already. My goal would be to lead them to enhancing and integrating their respective expertise.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponents?

A: What our board needs is a leader and facilitator with a vision of the future: someone to identify and build strong relationships. I have made a career out of making projects and organizations successful. My opponents are government employees and “old school” thinkers who promise they will listen. But it’s time for action! Merced County is an asset to this state and cannot afford to be in the lowest percentiles when rated against other counties.



Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: My strategy so far has been to meet people personally, talk to them and share my vision. I have a Web site and Web log, where I share thoughts, ideas and information on a daily basis. There will be small gatherings and dinner parties where people can get to know me and my wife personally and dates, times and locations will be posted on the Web site regularly.

I will not buy the election. You won’t see a lot of expensive campaign fundraising events or tons of front-yard signs and recorded messages coming from my campaign group. My guess is that we will spend between $1,000 and $2,500, as we still need to get our message out there.



Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: If they were one of my employees and I was giving them their performance evaluation, I would rate them as "meets expectations." I think as citizens and voters we need to expect more from our representatives. We should be a county that others look to and say, “Wow, look at Merced County. They really know how to 'whatever.’”



Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: Because District 2 consists primarily of the city of Merced, the needs are different from agricultural and industrial areas of the county. It’s the heart of the county, and as such, needs to pump life-sustaining resources to the entire body of the county. The problem is that we have become sluggish and atrophied. District 2 needs to be more dedicated to resolving all the issues in the county by being strong and having enough time, energy and resources to support and defend the entire county.





Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: Basic services that support our infrastructure, such as law enforcement, education and healthcare, need to be the highest priorities because damage to these systems has much longer-term effects on our future and our ability to recover from financial difficulties. We need to build in contingency plans, which could include hiring freezes and low-interest loans from grant sources to stop the bleeding. Longer term solutions include serious analysis, driven by data, of problematic programs and leverage of best practices. We also need to explore new potential revenue streams.



Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: Again, they deserve an evaluation mark of “meets expectations.” Based upon their personal experiences -- and our decisions as voters to elect them -- they did the best they could: Average. We need to update the county plan and health assessment more often. We need to use those tools like the education system does and create an action plan for change. It really bothers me when people look at data like unemployment rates, foreclosure numbers or the number of sexually transmitted diseases in our county and say, “Yeah, we knew that” or, “That’s the way it’s always been.” We need to take action.



Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: In these times of fiscal crisis, I would like to see us hire someone with an entrepreneurial spirit -- someone willing to take some calculated risks to bring success -- and a proven track record of success. Strong leadership skills, but grounded, sound business skills with a vision for Merced County’s future. Someone with skills similar to Mike Sullivan, CEO of Golden Valley Health Centers, or David Dunham, CEO of Mercy Medical Center Merced.



Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: There are some great things going on in Merced County, UC Merced, the new hospital for example. There are also some real potentials for disaster: Quebecor failing, houses in foreclosure. It’s time for action! We cannot listen for much longer. Our window of opportunity is now. Please seriously consider making me your supervisor for District 2. I won’t let you down!



JOHN PRICE

Age: 53

Occupation: owner, Artisan Construction

Political affiliation: Republican

Education: graduate of Le Grand High School and Merced College, bachelor’s degree from CSU Fresno, graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program

Family: married 31 years, three sons, one grandchild and one on the way

Hobbies: spending time with family, photography, travel

Web site: www.votejohnprice.com

Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: I believe I can make a difference in the lives of the citizens of Merced County. I have dedicated more than 30 years to serving and improving this community, and serving on the Board of Supervisors is a natural transition for me. Because of that, many people have encouraged me to run. People tell me they are concerned about the county’s present and future economic situation. I believe my years of service on community and national boards and my business experience in construction and agriculture have prepared me to make good decisions on behalf of the public.





Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: Outside of continuing support for public safety, I think the two most important issues I can impact are jobs – basically, economic development – and open and honest government, with an emphasis on tighter budget controls. Economic development is the key to Merced County’s future. We need jobs, jobs and more jobs. Helping to create a climate to bring a wide variety of jobs for our county is a prime concern. If we are to lower our unemployment rate, we must create a more positive business environment in Merced County. Job creation isn't just a simple thing because we need a wide variety of jobs, ranging from a UC medical center to agriculture and everything in between.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponents?

A: I have a lot of experience in two very important industries in our county. I spent 21 years involved in the dairy business. I obtained my contractor’s license in 1991 and I have significant experience in business and construction. I have signed both sides of a paycheck. How I view things has changed because of my experience developing and running a business. I understand the responsibility that comes with working to ensure that others are provided with jobs and benefits.

Within the community, I have been on the board of directors of Golden Valley Health Centers for 21 years, and I am the current board chairman. Golden Valley has a mission to provide high-quality health care services to people, regardless of income. Many of our patients are served through Medi-Cal. We have had to make many tough decisions over the years to ensure long-term financial viability for 21 clinics. I also have worked in leadership positions on various national health policy committees.

Other community service activities that have prepared me for the board are my work with the Merced County Association of Governments Citizens Advisory Committee, the Merced Rotary Club, the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce, the Merced County Chamber of Commerce and the Merced College President’s Circle. I serve on the board of directors of the Merced-Mariposa Builders Exchange and on the board for the Central California Chapter of the National Association for the Remodeling Industry. I also coach men’s water polo at Golden Valley High School.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: My specific strategy is to do what all candidates running for office must do: grow the list of volunteers as large as possible and as quickly as possible, raise as much money as possible and get the word out as best as possible in the time that remains before the primary. The amount of money we are able to spend on the campaign will be directly impacted how much money we can raise in the time available.





Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: I don’t want to be unfair in my assessment of the current board’s performance because I am not privy to all the information they had to make decisions. Having said that, I question the elimination of mental health services because it shifts expenses to other agencies, and the real cost to the taxpayers goes up. Another specific issue is the “golden handshake” for retiring county employees. I am interested in learning more about the data and process involved with this decision and the cost to the county. While this decision probably has lots of layers to it, the public relations could have been handled better. When I work with boards and community organizations, my approach is to bring an inquisitive perspective to all the work I do. I ask questions because I believe being well informed is the fastest way to identify challenges and solutions to those challenges. I believe in the maxim that if you gather sufficient information, the answer will present itself.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: The UC Merced campus and the proposed University Community are in District 2, as is a large portion of the city of Merced’s residential and industrial areas. The district also has a significant amount of agricultural land that needs to be protected.



Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: The county is charged with delivering many mandated state services, including health and welfare. Much of the budget isn’t truly discretionary in terms of budget cutbacks. We need to be very deliberate about prioritizing the balance of the available budget so that critical functions and obligations of the county are still viable. Unfortunately, the California legislature often solves its own budget problems by keeping a larger share of our money. We need to work with state legislators regarding their choices and how they affect our county. It is apparent that state budget cuts will drastically affect our ability to operate at current levels. We must be quick to assess which programs are working and which are not, and allocate funding accordingly.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: Overall, I think the level of growth and expansion has been handled in an acceptable way, but as with anything else, when one has the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to point out things that could have been done differently. Lots of blame has been handed out to homebuyers, Realtors and developers, but I think government fees may have stifled growth as well.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: Outside of the budgeting process, hiring a CEO is probably the most important task the board will undertake this year. The job will be filled before I would take office, and supervisor candidates won’t participate in the process. That said, the qualities needed for this particular job are demonstrated leadership at the executive level with solid experience in county government and public service.





Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: I promise to work hard on behalf of the people of Merced County. I am committed to open, honest government, which always keeps in mind that we all pay the bills. I would appreciate your vote.





JIM SANDERS

Age: 60

Occupation: Merced City Councilman; Founder and President, Merced Community Action Network

Political affiliation: Democrat

Education: Merced High School graduate, attended Merced College

Family: two sons, one grandchild

Hobbies: spending time with family; founding member of the Beatles Project, a Beatles tribute band

Web site: www.jimsanders2008.com



Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: The issues before the county -- public safety and economic growth -- demand that this election offer the people a real choice for real change. That is why I have declared my intention to run. It is the goal of my candidacy to bring my 15 years of experience working directly with the residents of Merced through working with police, residents, other city departments and the business community to reenergize the Neighborhood Watch program. I am the co-founder and developer of Tag Busters, the graffiti abatement program in Merced that helps rid the community of the visual blight of graffiti. I am in my second term on the Merced City Council where I have actively worked to provide solutions to the problems Merced has faced. In June 2004, I presented to the City Council and the community the initial plan for hiring more police officers and firefighters that was later approved by the voters as Measure C.





Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: Merced County is one of the top agriculture producing counties in the nation. Yet, our county is better known throughout the country for its manufacture of methamphetamine and other illegal drug activity. We are better known for our criminal gangs and gang violence and for our higher-than-average teen pregnancy rates, low wages and mortgage foreclosures. If our communities are not safe and our residents live in fear, they aren't safe for business. To move effectively in eliminating crime, drugs and gang activity while improving the climate for more economic development, job creation and a better quality of life, public safety has to be the top priority. Better-paying jobs and bigger paychecks in the hands of our workers are how we can add the fuel to drive Merced County's economic engine and thus reverse the negatives that plague our county and drive down the quality of life. Without more sheriff's deputies, more resources for the District Attorney and Probation Department, businesses will continue to pass us by and take their better-paying jobs somewhere else. Public Safety: this is where we start to transform Merced County! These are the reasons I am running for supervisor. I believe the government belongs to the people. It should, without question, be open to the people. As your supervisor for District 2, I will work to make sure the computer paper and supplies are put in the back room and not our decision-making.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: As a candidate for the City Council in 2001, I knocked on about 2,000 doors prior to the election. It is my intention to do the same this year with my effort being supplemented by volunteers. With respect to expenditures, my campaign will raise enough to be competitive.



Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: Hindsight is, of course, 20-20. Having said that, had I been a member of the board when the pay-for-performance idea was proposed, I would have voted against it. And, had I been a member of the board when the issue of sick-leave pay for board members was adopted, I would have voted against it. Supervisors are not county employees and shouldn’t be compensated for a benefit to which they are not entitled. Finally, had I been a board member when the Riverside Motorsports Park was proposed, I would have demanded a more complete and thorough environmental impact report and urged staff to more thoroughly check the background of the raceway’s sponsors. As a member of the board, I will propose that board meetings be televised live as another way of making county government open to its residents.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: Since much of District 2 is within the boundaries of the city, the supervisor representing it need to have effective working relationships with key city staff and departments. Recently, it came to light that employees of a county facility within the city were using a neighborhood’s streets as a high-speed shortcut to work. This problem could have stopped before it started with a couple of phone calls to the right people. Also, the homeless issue and the delivery of county social services within the city requires that the 2nd District supervisor and the city work together in a way that expedites the delivery of services.





Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: The state budget crisis demands that the county’s budget process be open and accessible to county residents. After all, the budget belongs to the people it serves and should reflect their priorities and values. Across-the-board cuts won’t work. Instead, I propose that budget hearings be held throughout the county to involve residents in the budget process. Further, while the county puts the budget online, that effort should be supplemented with an executive summary of the county’s spending program written in plain English.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: The current housing crisis demands that the board manage growth in a real hands-on fashion. Too many county communities have blocks of new houses that are vacant and nothing more than contemporary slums – empty houses with fresh paint and new stucco. And since Merced County’s economic engine is driven by agriculture, we need to make sure that we are not unnecessarily paving over productive land just for the sake of growth. The expected growth in the San Joaquin Valley in the next 20 years requires a commitment to regional planning on a host of issues including water, air quality, ag land preservation, transportation and our infrastructure. The county’s long-range planning needs to properly reflect these future demands.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: The board should look upon the forthcoming retirement of Dee Tatum as an opportunity to involve county residents in the selection process. The next county chief executive should be someone familiar with the Central Valley and its issues, a successful manager and an outstanding communicator who believes that government should be open and honest.





Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: The Sanders family has lived and worked in Merced County for more than 100 years, experiencing the changes and challenges that have confronted the county for most of its history. My service as a city council member and as founder and president of the Merced Community Action Network follows a long tradition of community service by members of my family. My experience as an elected official and community activist gives me, I believe, a unique perspective on how government makes decisions. My record on the City Council shows I am not afraid to make tough choices and that people will always know where I stand on the issues.





CASEY STEED


Age: 45

Occupation: Owner, Steeds Electric Service; State of California licensed Electrical contractor

Political affiliation: Republican

Education: high school graduate, attended Merced College

Family: two children

Hobbies: home improvement, raising cattle, dirt-biking, fishing, restoring Opel GT cars



Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: I see an opportunity for new leadership to guide my district and our county through some very difficult times ahead. The old way of doing things has not necessarily served the public well. I have the ability to listen to people and develop consensus among differing views. Being a Merced County supervisor is a full-time job, and I will treat it as such. Carrying out the duties of this office will be my only focus for the entire term. I have a new vision for our future.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: We tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding. We need to craft our general plan to be even more supportive of self-sufficient enterprises, focusing less on the growth of our county's cities and more on sustaining and diversifying our agricultural base. The UC Merced campus and its surrounding community will have a huge impact on the county. The UC administration and the county will have to work together to bring about the best outcome for the public. I feel I can have a positive impact on this process.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponents?

A: I have had experience running my own business for over 15 years. I have managed various types of projects for the last 25 years with multimillion-dollar budgets. As a county resident, I have experienced the lopsidedness of an outdated general plan that has been encouraging sprawl. As a newcomer to Merced's political scene I have no baggage or obligations. I am a clean slate and a new broom. I have been learning new skills all my life. To now put them to use to get some specific things working better in Merced County has become a passion for me.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: I'm on a pretty steep learning curve with regard to becoming a supervisor. I have a campaign manager who is in charge of getting my name out there. Interestingly, I find the Internet is probably going to be a great tool in this race. My IT guys are always coming up with ideas. I don't know how much it's going to cost, but I want to do intelligent advertising and not a carpet-bombing exercise. The most valuable thing I can receive is the people's vote. It's priceless. I just need to distinguish myself from my opponents on issues that matter to the people of Merced County and not worry so much about raising money.



Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: The current board has certainly been irritating to me in some of their decisions over the last few years. Obviously, I feel I would have voted differently on any number of issues. I think that the board does so many routine things where there is no public input and many times are voted on at once. When a vote on something divisive comes up, there is a tendency to vote in lock-step rather than taking input from the public. Of course, I will have to experience that interchange from the other side of the dais before I say for sure that things should have been done differently, but when I'm elected I will be dealing with what is on my plate at the time. I understand that much of this position has a life of its own, but I'm anxious to add my influence to the mix.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: The UC and the issues of sprawl and growth. The supervisors are like the mayor and city council of a couple of areas in the county, like Castle and the future UC Community between the campus and Yosemite Avenue. As UC Merced is in my district, there is a greater emphasis on smart growth and intelligent transportation solutions between the growth centers we have developed and nurtured during the housing boom. I'd like to see a light-rail system connecting Castle/Atwater, Merced and the UC Merced campus.





Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: I'm a conservative person and would deal with the budget conservatively. I would have to give specific thought to each budget item in order to be able to say that cutting or leaving that particular item would best serve the residents of the county. I've never looked at every item in the county budget yet so I haven't made up my mind how to best serve the county in times of cutbacks. I don't believe an arbitrary percentage cut across-the-board will be the answer. I don't have the institutional history of the county to hinder me from entertaining new ideas about budgeting.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: The growth in Merced County was artificially stimulated by the location of the UC and the perceived under-value of land by developers and speculators compared to other areas of the state. While a few have benefited from that growth, for the rest of us, it's been a mixed blessing at best. I'm not happy with the trend towards gentrification and gated communities, especially unfinished ones. I would have required the promised public improvements, such as bike trails and parks, to have been completed prior to breaking ground on the first house of a subdivision. I watched the board bet the ranch and lose, gambling with slick developers who ended up broke with unfinished projects. The public deserves better.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: I have met with Mr. Tatum and believe that he has tried to improve the county and its customer service over time. No one disagrees that more work needs to be done. The hiring of a new CEO who will continue to facilitate these much-needed changes is necessary if we are going to attract business and keep our existing customers satisfied. The new CEO will need to be able to help guide the board with the assistance of the county's legal staff.



Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: I have the ability to work with others to obtain results and will always seek the best deal for the public good. If the voters have any questions of me, they can contact me via e-mail (steed4supervisor@att.net). I look forward to meeting them at some point down the road. Please vote on June 3rd.







HUB WALSH


Age: 57

Occupation: Director of Social Services, Madera County

Political affiliation: Democrat

Education: associate's degree from Merced College, bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from UC Berkeley, master's degree in social science from Pacific Lutheran University, master's in business administration from CSU Stanislaus

Family: married 32 years, two children, one grandson

Hobbies: playing with grandson, sports, golf, yard work, community and church activities

Web site: www.hubwalsh.com



Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: I am running for Merced County supervisor because I want to continue my public and community service to the residents of Merced County.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: Public Safety, especially as it relates to gangs and the drug epidemic. And planning for growth, not only the process, but also making sure required infrastructure and services are included in the discussion.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponents?

A: I have over 30 years of community and public service experience. This includes volunteer service and leadership responsibilities in local groups and organizations. I also have 10 years of elected policy-making experience on the Merced City Council as both a council member and as mayor. I have professional work experience in two counties. In both professional and elected roles, I have worked on county issues at the local, regional, state and federal levels.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: The campaign strategy is to seek opportunities to engage residents of the community and to listen to the concerns of those in District 2 as well as other county residents. I hope to talk to as many people as possible about the issues we are facing as well as those we are anticipating, and about how we might shape our future together. We have not established an exact amount, but plan to spend what is raised in support of the campaign.





Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: Hindsight is always 20-20. There are areas I would have, as a board member, proposed to have been done differently. I will work to make county government more open and transparent. This would be not only in Board of Supervisor agendas but also in other community interactions and communications. One specific area is in county planning. For instance, as a member of the board, I will work to see that public meetings are held at more convenient times. To the degree possible, the general plan and other planning meetings will not overlap each other. Documents under consideration will be made available in more places in a more timely manner by increasing the use both digital and print delivery methods. Public planning meetings will be set so that there is sufficient time for public input before deadlines for decisions begin to impact the process.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: District 2 is more urban and rural residential than other districts. Residents have more needs related to urban living and related to the rural agricultural and urban interface. Their needs also reflect the needs of residents county-wide, which include improved public safety, improved roads, water quality and quantity, as well as improved access to county services. Additionally, the University of California is also in District 2, and there are many issues surrounding the development of the campus.



Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: As a board member, I will approach the development of the budget by thorough review of county expenditures and revenues. This will also include the revenue implications that local cuts might have on state and federal funding resources. I will work with the board and county staff so budget reviews are held so that not only county staff but also county residents can talk about the budget. I will propose that we establish a process where ideas from employees and county residents along with those of elected officials are collected and reviewed. I feel the broader involvement on how to make the county leaner while also meeting the challenges and priorities will be critical to our success through these challenging times. I will work to ensure that vital services are the least impacted, especially public safety.



Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: The county has struggled to accommodate growth, and if the process to update the general plan had started earlier, this challenge may have been easier to face. As a supervisor, I will work to improve communication and collaboration between the county and cities and agricultural and other business and economic stakeholders. I will work to see that the information and resources available through the regional blueprint planning process be used to assist in making planning decisions. As stated earlier, I will work to have a more open planning process. And I will work to see that growth pays for itself, particularly in terms of the ongoing costs of public safety and infrastructure.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: Again, hindsight is 20-20. County Executive Officer Dee Tatum has worked closely with the current board and is accountable to them. An area where I would suggest improvement is in the area of communication with the community and other jurisdictions as well as county staff. As a supervisor searching for a new county CEO, I will look for a person with a proven record of leadership in government; a demonstrated understanding of the complexity of California county government and its relationships with other counties, the state and federal government; a track record of government budget management; a history of seeking and receiving revenues from governmental and non-governmental sources; a demonstrated record of excellent communication with communities and related local jurisdictions; and a commitment to excellence in public service.





Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: These are challenging times, but I believe that Merced County has a bright and prosperous future. I am proud of our community’s past, and I still believe Merced County is a wonderful place to call home. I will work hard to make a difference in the future of this county.








DISTRICT FOUR


(Ballico, city of Gustine, Cortez, Cressey, Delhi, Hilmar, Snelling, Stevinson, Winton, and portions of Atwater)





Incumbent Deidre Kelsey is running against one challenger.



DEIDRE KELSEY

Incumbent



Age: 52

Occupation: Merced County Supervisor

Political affiliation: Republican

Education: attended College of the Sequoias, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and CSU Stanislaus; CBEST certified; California Agricultural Leadership Program graduate

Family: married 30 years, three children

Hobbies: gardening, reading



Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: Throughout my tenure as supervisor, I have worked diligently to represent the interests of my district, listened to the concerns of all county residents and have made sound decisions to best serve the entire county. For these reasons and my proven track record as an elected official, I’m running to retain my position as supervisor. I want to continue fighting for those issues vitally important to the residents of District 4: public safety, agriculture and our way of life.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: Public safety and advocating for responsible growth here in Merced County. As a supervisor, I believe that protecting our residents and their property is our greatest responsibility. Therefore, I will continue my efforts to put more deputies on the streets, more prosecutors in the courtroom and add needed fire safety personnel. I’m proud of our agricultural heritage and believe that we should do everything we can to protect its future. To this end, I will continue the fight to ensure sound planning strategies that aim to protect our agricultural economy.





Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponent?

A: My experience and history of public service has prepared me for another term. Whether it was my service on the Snelling Municipal Advisory Committee, the Merced County Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors, I have always strived to make decisions that benefit the people of my district and the residents of Merced County. Having a working knowledge of our budget process and understanding the ebbs and flows of County government well qualify me to continue my service on the Board.

My record of representing the people of District 4, I believe, speaks for itself. I’m running for the position of supervisor, not against an opponent. My longtime commitment of standing up for the issues most important to the residents of District 4 distinguishes me from my opponent. In these challenging times, experience does matter. I’m tested, experienced and fully prepared to hit the ground running in my next term.





Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: Just as I’ve done with other campaigns, I plan on reaching out to every single resident and voter of my district. I plan on having a conversation with them about our most important issues, like protecting our families and children from harm and ensuring that agriculture continues to drive our economy. At this point, it’s entirely premature to say how much I expect to spend on this campaign. However, I understand that campaigns are often unpredictable and can require resources to get information and messages out to the public. I fully plan on promoting my commitment to public safety and my continued fight for responsible growth out to the residents of District 4.





Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: I believe the current Board is doing a good job guiding this county overall. Due to our conservative budgeting approach, we are much better positioned to deal with the state’s fiscal crisis than many of our neighbors in the San Joaquin Valley. The current board deserves to be commended for this.

Clearly though, we have had some pretty significant differences over the years that often result in this board not working as well together as it could have. In particular, we’ve had some honest disagreements about land-use policy. As an example, I have often found myself fighting against unnecessary development. To this point, I will continue my efforts to promote only responsible growth while embracing our assets – agriculture, our rivers and water supply and our geography.



Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: My District is proud of its heritage and is unique because most of it lies in the unincorporated areas of the county. Over the past several years, District 4 has seen significant crimes on the rise and a host of pressures brought on because of growth in other parts of this county, as well as from our neighbors to the north.



Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: I’ve seen fiscal crises before, and I’m sure we’ll see them again in the future. Our challenge as a board is how we prepare for them in advance. Over the years, I have been instrumental in successfully establishing a $25 million rainy day fund to help the county prepare for tough economic times – and those times may have arrived due to the state’s fiscal situation. Consequently, I believe that Merced County will be much better positioned than its neighboring counterparts with future fiscal planning. We must continue our conservative fiscal approach, while providing services for the residents of Merced County. With the state heading into a significant economic downturn, the county must weigh the value of each expenditure to ensure they are necessary and paid for with available resources. The next four years are going to be financially challenging on the local and state level, and my experience will be well utilized.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: From my perspective, development and growth should pay their own way. Our growth has outpaced our ability to provide necessary and essential services. Moving forward, as an example, we should develop a standardized method for adding public safety personnel. As population increases, we should have a set formula that requires a certain number of public safety personnel for an area based upon that growth. This would provide for a better level of service throughout the entire county and enhance the quality of life as well.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Tatum and believe that he’s done a tremendous job. He runs the organization like a business, like any good CEO would. He’s an outstanding listener and one that always follows through on commitments made.

Whoever follows Mr. Tatum will have to bring tenacity, hard work and a commitment to deliver the services that our residents expect and deserve.



Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my service as a county supervisor and believe that I have the most experience to best represent the people of District 4. I’m hopeful that the residents of my district know how much I have appreciated their support. I look forward to continuing our efforts to have a positive, lasting impact on our community.



CLAUDINE SHERRON


Age: 39

Occupation: owner of a small construction business, substitute teacher

Political affiliation: Republican

Education: attended Merced College, bachelor's degree in criminal justice from CSU Stanislaus

Family: married 18 years, three children

Hobbies: raising and competing with American Quarter Horses

Web site: www.sherronforsupervisor.com



Q: Why are you running for supervisor?

A: Our district desperately needs a change of direction in leadership.



Q: What are the two most important issues you can address – and have an impact upon – as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

A: The two most important issues that I must deal with are compound. The impacts of the over-development and loss of farmland combined with public safety and equal access/representation in government are two issues that will greatly impact the daily lives of citizens in District 4.



Q: What qualifies you to serve on the Board of Supervisors? Why are you better suited to serve than your opponent?

A: I have the education and the experience to effectively lead and address the needs of all the taxpaying citizens of District 4. Additionally, I live and function within the communities that I will be serving. I drive daily the same roads, shop at the same local stores, depend on the same schools and I depend on the same public safety system as does every average citizen in District 4. My opponent doesn’t have the luxury of literally living with the results of her decisions, like allowing massive development in Delhi with no long-range plans of how care for the new population and now looking at graffiti-covered neighborhoods with empty houses where land used to grow crops. She doesn’t daily drive by fields that are currently producing feed for local dairies where 1,100 homes are slated to be built. Nor does she get to feel the pain of living in a community that has grown almost 10-fold in 10 years and has no major increase in job opportunities and is no closer to incorporation or self-sufficiency. She does not get the opportunity to feel the effect of too much development too quickly on a school district such as Delhi that cannot even offer music to its high school students, let alone agriculture, FFA, wood shop or auto shop.

Owning and operating a small business teaches you how to work until the job is done. We do not have the luxury of getting paid without producing the approved end result. If we do not produce, we go out of business. There is no in-between. I am proud to say that we have now been in business 18 years. This type of life is not for everyone, which is why two out of three businesses fail shortly after starting. This has taught me the meaning of hard work and critical decision-making.



Q: What's your campaign strategy? How much do you expect to spend campaigning?

A: My campaign strategy is to speak personally with as many members of my district as I can and don’t waste one dime doing it. I schedule seven to 10 meetings a week with members of different organizations in different areas of the district. I will continue this until Election Day. I ask those who want change to do two simple things. First, understand that the election is in June for this district, and vote. Second, tell their friends, neighbors and families that they have a choice for change in June, and help them get to the polls. I expect to spend whatever amount it takes to get the job done and show people that there is a choice for change this June. I will know what that number is when the election is over.





Q: How would you rate the performance of the current board? Is there anything it should have been done differently?

A: I am not happy with the performance of our board, which is why I am running for election. There are many things that could have happened differently. Seeing to it that we protected our land and care for the taxpaying citizens of our communities are on top of the priority list. Our board has touted recently what great financial condition we are in, and yet crime in our county is beyond belief, and we are no closer to solving the pay/benefits problems which would attract and keep law enforcement candidates in Merced County. Our roads are crumbling under us, and it takes months to get illegal dumping cleaned up. Graffiti is popping up in every town and every school. Citizens are living in fear daily. We have lost tens of thousands of acres of producing farmland that we will never get back. In the last 10 years a small few have gotten very rich at the expense of the average taxpaying citizen. Somehow we can find the money to pay top officials thousands of dollars extra to give a year’s notice that they will be leaving their job, but we are told there is no money when citizens gather signatures to request speed bumps in neighborhoods to quell street racing and gang activity. We are told we need to develop our land to pay for the needs of the people. Well, we have developed much of our land, and now instead of growing almonds, peaches, grapes, cattle and hay, we grow meth labs and gangsters. People moved into our new towns that provided no jobs, and the problems have only gotten worse. It is clear that we need a change of direction.





Q: What distinguishes the needs of your supervisorial district from the others?

A: District 4 is a large district that spans the county east and west. We have only one incorporated town, Gustine, with an estimated population of just over 5,300. The balance of the population in District 4, over 35,000, live in unincorporated areas. We still have large areas that are populated and are productive that have no governmental representation, such as a municipal advisory council. Also, District 4 encompasses the Merced River which is critical to the agricultural economy and has its own ecological system that must be protected.





Q: The state's looming budget crisis will undoubtedly affect counties across California. If elected, how will you approach the county's budget to ensure the public is well served in times of cutbacks?

A: We will need to set clear priorities and operate accordingly. You must pay the mortgage before you spend money on a vacation.





Q: Merced County has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Have the county's public officials done an effective job managing that growth?

A: The growth has been ill-managed in District 4. We have lost valuable farmland, which is directly tied to our economy, and brought in many more problems than we started with. We should have had plans in place to deal with the inevitable. Development has been short-sighted, and the citizens are left to pick up the pieces after everyone has made their money and left. Our school children are paying the price daily. Every school board in District 4 is struggling to contend with the problems that have been created by short-sighted development. Development should be very cautious and require overwhelming support of the citizens. Development should only be approved when a community can establish the need and the long-term ability to provide for its people.





Q: One of the most important tasks of any public board is to hire a nonelected chief executive. What is your take on the performance of County Executive Officer Dee Tatum? What qualities would you look for in his successor once he retires at the end of this year?

A: Since County CEO Dee Tatum has already announced his intention to retire from his position, it serves no purpose to comment either way on his performance. He is reportedly well-liked and respected by his peers, which says quite a lot. We must objectively accept where we are and make critical decisions to move forward. With regard to his successor, it is important that we find someone who is committed to the restoration of our county. We must find someone who is skilled in long-range development of economic plans as well as short-term resolutions. We have many issues that will not be solved overnight. As well, we have issues that must be tended to immediately with skill and foresight. It is important that we have a CEO who is willing to extend open dialogue with each and every department. Our CEO must display exemplary leadership skills that will inspire the people he or she will oversee.





Q: Anything else you want voters to know?

A: I want voters to know that it is possible to solve very large problems. We are not a hopeless county, but we are in a dire situation. I am only the vehicle by which we can effect change. I cannot do it alone. I need the support of the citizens of District 4. I have committed myself to going to 2222 M Street and working until the job is done. It will not happen overnight, but I will use everything I have to fight for the betterment of the all the citizens of District 4 every day.

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