Voters who are unsatisfied with Merced County’s economic standing, crime rate and general outlook have an opportunity to make over the board of supervisors this year, and one candidate says she’s the best selection for legitimate change.
Lee Lor, 34, was born in Connecticut, but came to Merced at a young age. She moved around some more after that, but has been in town since 1999. This is her first run at the District 2 supervisor’s seat.
She’s the executive director of the Merced County Education Fund, an effort of the Merced County Office of Education to help families who can’t afford extracurricular activities for their children.
Lor said she has held leadership roles in the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Merced and Merced Lao Family Community. She was recently reappointed to the Merced County Fair Board and has worked with Valley Crisis Center and the Merced County Probation Department.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Stanislaus, and a master’s in business administration from California State University, Fresno.
“I want people to really consider where they want to be in four years,” she said. “This is our opportunity to create our future.”
Q: Merced County Sheriff’s Office is facing a high vacancy rate as veteran deputies leave to better-paying jobs. As supervisor, how would you retain sheriff’s deputies, and what would you consider a fair compensation package?
A: Our deputies are among the lowest paid in the Central Valley. As county supervisor, I would have the department’s pay schedule re-evaluated against other counties’. A fair compensation package cannot be determined until all factors, like pay scale, are considered.
Q: Each supervisor is allocated $40,000 every fiscal year to use as they please. Typically, supervisors choose to spend the money on community projects or nonprofit organizations. The leftover amount at the end of each fiscal year rolls over to the next. Do you agree with this policy? Why, or why not?
A: Each supervisor is allocated $40,000 every fiscal year to use as they please. After this election, should a majority of the supervisors vote to keep the discretionary funds, I would create a more open process for constituents to apply for funds.
Q: Crime statistics show violent and property crimes in Merced County are on the rise. How should the sheriff’s office tackle crime in the county?
A: Several things need to happen. We need to implement a community-based approach where residents increase trust for law enforcement and report crimes. As a county, we need to clean up our unincorporated areas and hold residents accountable. In addition, we need to keep our trained deputies as well as increase the number of deputies.
Q: What should be done to spur economic development in Merced County?
A: The county and cities need to work collaboratively. We need to listen to our community and help bring the businesses and opportunities that our community wants. We need to cut the red tape and re-evaluate our priorities, processes and policies. We need youth-friendly and family-friendly businesses as well as places to gather.
Q: Merced County has been negotiating a revenue-sharing agreement with city governments for about 10 years. The agreement would help cities win authorization to annex land and provide services such as sewer and water to new developments. In your opinion, what needs to be done to finalize the agreement?
A: We have to invest in our future. The county should give the city a little more now and then reap more of the benefits later.
Q: The county currently allows residents with a medical marijuana card to grow 12 plants per parcel. Do you agree with medical and/or recreational marijuana use? Do you think the county should change its policy on marijuana? If so, what kind of policy would you propose?
A: Whether we like it or not, it is here. The county’s current policy on marijuana works right now. We need to look at ways to regulate for everyone’s safety.
Q: Do you support the high-speed rail coming through the Central Valley, specifically Merced? How do you think the High Speed Rail Authority’s current proposed plan, which bypasses Merced, will affect the county?
A: I support the high-speed rail coming through the Central Valley, specifically Merced because it will contribute to our economic growth. The current proposed plan bypassing Merced will continue the status quo, preventing economic growth.
Q: The Merced County Association of Governments is proposing a half-cent tax to be placed on the November ballot to improve county roads. Would you support this tax? Why, or why not?
A: I personally would. It is up to our voters to determine if they want it. If passed by voters, I will do what I can to ensure that funds are spent according to its intent.
Q: California is emerging from a historic, five-year drought that has impacted the Central Valley’s agricultural economy particularly hard. Moving forward, how should Merced County proceed on water-related issues?
A: Merced County needs water storage, increased water regulations and increased education around water use. We need to keep our water here.
Q: If elected, what would be your top priority?
A: There are so many competing priorities. When elected, my top priorities would be our county departments, the revenue-sharing agreement and safety. With the way things have been in the past and the way things are going now, I am sure we will still be in the same boat come January 1, 2017.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Lee Lor
Place of residence: Merced
Occupation: Executive director of the Merced County Education Foundation and assistant to the superintendent.
Education: Atwater High School; CSU, Stanislaus, bachelor’s in criminal justice; CSU, Fresno, master’s in business administration
Immediate family: Ber Lor, husband; Nicolas Lor, step-son; Kaeyden Lor, son; Nasya Lor, daughter; Shana Lor, daughter.