Please join me in welcoming District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert to A News Cafe as we discuss what led her to make an important decision earlier this afternoon.
CHAMBERLAIN: Good evening, Supervisor Rickert. Thank you for taking the time to chat.
As you know better than anyone, today was an interesting day here in Shasta County, for two special reasons.
First was this morning’s so-called “special” meeting requested by District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye. It was a strange meeting considering that last month Supervisor Crye made a big deal out of magnanimously suggesting that the Nov. 21 regularly scheduled board of supervisors meeting be cancelled, ostensibly so staff could spend more time on their Thanksgiving holiday break.
But then, just a few days ago, you hear for the first time that Kevin has called a special meeting for today, Nov. 20, one day before the previously scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting that he’d recently cancelled.
Today’s agenda was so vague that the public didn’t know exactly what to speak to. This is not the first time this has happened. The most recent special meetings that provided more questions than answers were on Oct. 31, for yet another Crye-sponsored meeting, and Nov. 9. Each time, after all the confusion and folderol, the supervisors returned with what’s become a predictable announcement: no reportable action.
One bizarre moment happened during the public comment period prior to you and your fellow supervisors going into closed session (again). By “bizarre” I mean that Richard Gallardo, aka, “Stones” had a valid question: How could the public know how to comment when there’s insufficient information about the subject? Good point.
In that moment, I agreed with Richard Stones Gallardo. Cue flying pigs soaring over the board chambers.
Vague or not, the meeting carried on to a nearly empty chambers because the public didn’t have enough notice to change plans on this week that they thought wouldn’t have a supervisors meeting.
Once again, it didn’t take long before Chair Jones lost control of the meeting and threatened to clear the room and shut things down.
Once again Jones gaveled down an audience member, Christian Gardinier, and with it a private security guard was called into the chambers to convince Gardinier to sit or leave. Gardinier did neither, until the source of Gardinier’s point-of-order offender – Gallardo – finished speaking a country mile off topic, which is against Jones’ own rules.
Once again, more evidence of Jones’ selective enforcement.
Once again, Jones was sarcastic to commenters as the people left the lectern to return to their seats — “very intelligent, thank you” — and unabashedly favored his supporters. Once again, conversation was a chaotic ping pong ball that circled the drain to nowhere.
Finally, once again, after all the county staff time and resources — after Crye’s supposedly urgent meeting caused you and Supervisor Garman to miss a pair of important, previously scheduled meetings, and after the supervisors returned from closed session — Chair Jones announced that there was no reportable action.
So all that time was wasted for absolutely nothing that couldn’t have waited until the upcoming Dec. 5 meeting.
Anyway, so those were the first special things to happen today at Crye’s special, urgent meeting that ended up a big – to borrow Crye’s term – nothing burger.
However, one unexpected silver lining to Crye’s especially unproductive special meeting is that it inspired you to take action today with an important decision. Correct?
That’s why I asked to speak with you today. Can you talk a bit about what led to today’s decision?
RICKERT: Yes. Today’s supervisor’s meeting and closed session impacted my decision to file to run for office for a third term as the Shasta County District 3 Supervisor. I saw personal agendas and wasteful spending dominate the meeting and I made the decision that I cannot retire after my second term.
I had decided not to run for office for a third term quite some time ago. Eight years is a long time to serve as a county supervisor. I do believe that it is important that fresh new ideas and people with a passion for county government should be afforded the opportunity to make their mark on county government.
I kept waiting for a candidate who reflected a similar vision I have for the county to announce their candidacy. After it was apparent no one was stepping forward, I started to question whether I should file to run.
My final decision was made today after our Special Board meeting. I witnessed no valid reason for this meeting to convene. It was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. I felt sorry for staff, as they had to scramble to get organized for this meeting.
This kind of government waste needs to stop, and the last-minute meetings — with no true purpose – needs to stop. The people of Shasta County deserve better.
CHAMBERLAIN: Wow. I must say, this news surprises me.
It may be too soon to ask, but has anyone questioned your sanity for running yet? You’ve been through more than three years of hell on the board. You’ve been the victim of death threats. You’ve been verbally assaulted by people in the chambers.
You’re routinely mocked, ridiculed and disrespected by not just some particularly unhinged members of the public, but some board majority colleagues, especially Dist. 4 Supervisor/Chair Patrick Jones and Dist. 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye.
I don’t know many people who could endure that level of public abuse for even one meeting. Why would you subject yourself to that for another term?
RICKERT: I am sure many question my sanity to run again. I am convinced that I seem to have a strong tolerance for being mistreated. But I also know that I am very much invested in the future of Shasta County. I will continue to fight against projects like the Fountain Wind Project, a proposed project that was defeated by our Planning Department and Board of Supervisors. I am committed to see that opposition continue and want to be a part of that effort.
CHAMBERLAIN: Supervisor Crye and other ultra-right conservatives — such as those guys who have Sunday radio programs — refer to you as a RINO. Can you describe what kind of Republican you are?
RICKERT: I consider myself a fiscally conservative Republican. I practice my faith and hold very conservative views. I rarely discuss politics with others, especially as serving as a supervisor.
A county supervisor is a non-partisan position, and the decisions made by county supervisors should not reflect their partisan beliefs. It makes no difference if a constituent calls and asks for assistance whether they are a Democrat, Republican or belong to another party affiliation. I am here to serve all residents of District 3, specifically, but all Shasta County citizens in general.
CHAMBERLAIN: What do you fear might happen to Shasta County if you don’t run for office? And along those lines, what are some of the things that have most troubled you about what’s happened in Shasta County the last few years?
RICKERT: I felt compelled to run because I do believe there needs to be someone on the board to bring some balance to decision making.
It is also imperative that I continue to bring a different perspective as the other board members. The current board is very closely aligned with their thinking and subsequent voting record. I want to ensure that we continue to maintain a solid fiscal standing with our county finances, and recently I have been deeply concerned that we have veered off track with reckless spending.
I also have asked multiple times for a Code of Conduct, as our board meetings have been unruly and disrespectful. I have seen a total disregard for equal treatment of those speaking during public comment, and that needs to stop.
CHAMBERLAIN: How will this campaign differ from your previous ones?
RICKERT: This campaign will differ some as I have many more obligations as a sitting supervisor in addition to running a campaign. However, I truly can speak to the many problems we are experiencing as a county and have a much better understanding of how county government works.
Again, my priorities will continue to be public safety, getting that third floor of the jail open, and offer treatment for mental health and substance use to those who are currently incarcerated. Homelessness is a true problem in our community, and I will continue to advocate for services and affordable housing for those in need.
CHAMBERLAIN: And is your family on board with another political campaign?
RICKERT: I do have the support of my family, though they are aware of the sacrifices they will make to support me.
CHAMBERLAIN: What would you like the people of Shasta County to know about you?
RICKERT: I was blessed with an incredible birth family who were instrumental in inspiring me to be a strong leader. Paraphrasing from the Bible, “to those whom much is given, much is expected.”
I truly do believe in that quote, and I feel Shasta County is at a tipping point in our history. I feel an obligation to do what I can, given my experience for the last seven years as a supervisor, and to support and honor our county employees. I feel a deep responsibility to continue as a county supervisor and try to use my life experiences as a businessperson and a life-long community volunteer to make Shasta County a great place to live.
CHAMBERLAIN: What are your special projects and specific concerns for District 3?
RICKERT: The proposed Fountain Wind project is very high on my list of issues to tackle in the near future. Working with county staff has been a privilege and though we are fighting an uphill battle to defeat this project, I want to do all I can to work with the Pit River Tribe and protect our local citizens and natural resources.
Increasing jail capacity and provide the services needed in the jail to reduce recidivism is also very important to me. The last few years has been devastating to witness the exodus of top tier talent in our county government and I would like to help stabilize county government and ensure that the morale of county employees returns to what it was a few years ago.
I also see a serious need to attract doctors, lawyers and other professionals to our county, and with the current chaotic political climate, that has been difficult to achieve.
CHAMBERLAIN: Would you withdraw from the race if someone rational, ethical and qualified stepped up and expressed interest in campaigning for District 3 supervisor?
RICKERT: It would depend on who that individual was. It’s not about the person, but the ability of that person to be elected. If the person running was favored to win I would step aside. But it would have to be someone with impeccable credentials.
CHAMBERLAIN: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
RICKERT: Shasta County is a unique county with incredible natural resources. I want our quality of life to be the best it can be, and I want people to work together in unison to build healthy communities for their children.
Divisiveness serves no purpose and only brings negative energy and results. Our country and our county have become very divided, and consequently we are not accomplishing what we are capable of.
Future generations need to look to us as role models and we need to mirror behaviors that ensure they grow up to be respectful and productive human beings.
CHAMBERLAIN: One more question. You’re running for re-election because you saw a void of quality candidates in your district. Do you have any words to inspire those who aren’t involved, or encouragement for those who fear running for office?
RICKERT: It takes courage to run in today’s political climate. However, that’s why we need now more than ever people to set aside their personal hesitations and give their all. That’s how our nation became great. We need more people who are selfless and fearless.
CHAMBERLAIN: Thank you, Supervisor Rickert. What an interesting turn of events arose from Supervisor Crye’s special meeting this morning.
However, although Supervisor Crye’s last-minute meeting seemed a waste of everyone’s time, it appears it wasn’t a complete lost cause. After all, Crye’s special meeting inspired you to run for re-election.
Perhaps Shasta County’s grateful District 1 and District 3 voters will express the depths of their gratitude during the March election.
Editor’s note: This post was revised at 3 p.m. on Nov. 21 for clarification, and to include information from the original draft that was inadvertently omitted from this version. We apologize for any confusion.