The Reasonable Person’s Guide to Shasta County’s March 5 Primary Election, Part 1

Will the MAGA board majority of Jones, Crye and Kelstrom surivive the primary election?

Greetings, Shasta County voters! Welcome to Part 1 of the reasonable person’s guide to the upcoming primary election, which takes place on March 5. This guide covers the recall of District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye and the four-way contest for the District 2 supervisor seat. Part 2 will cover districts 3 and 4 supervisor contests, and Measures C and D.

“Reasonable person” is meant in the broadest possible sense of the phrase. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, a Republican, a third-party or a no-party-preference voter. Unless you’re a member of former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again cult and/or a State of Jefferson separatist, this county election guide is for you.

If you are a member of those two excluded groups, this guide probably won’t sway you. After all, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Since Connecticut son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo donated $100,000 to Patrick Jones’ successful bid for District 4 supervisor in 2019, the MAGA majority board of supervisors has transformed Shasta County into a hostile work environment.

That’s no small feat considering county government is one of the largest employers in Shasta County. This transformation began with the panicked rebellion against state and federal COVID public health mandates in mid-2020. The refusal to follow basic public health directions sickened the county, which per capita had among the highest rates of COVID infections and deaths in California’s 58 counties during the pandemic.

As local anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and right-wing opportunists congealed into the gelatinous headcheese that is today’s MAGA movement, Shasta County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom and other public health officials began receiving credible death threats. Board of Supervisors meetings descended into chaos as the mob screamed for blood in the streets if the public health mandates weren’t lifted.

Carlos Zapata’s rant at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors went viral.

In 2021, Anselmo donated hundreds of thousands of more dollars to recall District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty, a moderate Republican who supported the federal and state COVID mandates. For Moty’s replacement, District 2 voters selected Tim Garman. In 2022 Garman joined Jones and former District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh in a 3-2 vote to fire Dr. Ramstrom without cause.

Like most of the decisions the MAGA board majority has made since then, Ramstrom’s firing was poorly reasoned with no consideration given to the foreseeable consequences, such as the inevitable exodus of top officials fleeing authoritarian MAGA rule and the difficulty in attracting talented employees to replace them.

Apart from Shasta County District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, who voted against firing the public health officer amid a pandemic, no other local Republican official publicly supported Ramstrom.

That was the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as we once knew it in Shasta County, if being a Republican Party member includes respecting law and order, making fiscally responsible decisions and standing up for common decency.

It’s been all MAGA vengeance since then, fueled by the nearly $1.5 million Anselmo has distributed to local right-wing politicians and political action committees since 2019, including $250,000 to the Water Users Committee for the March 5 primary election cycle.

No other local donor or PAC comes even remotely close to that amount, with one very significant exception that will be elaborated on below.

Reverge Anselmo

Anselmo is one of three heirs to a multi-billion-dollar satellite TV fortune. He authored a novel based on his Marine service and produced several Hollywood B-movies in the 1990s before moving to Shasta County in the aughts. The libertarian extremist has given more than $1.4 million to Sen. Rand Paul’s Protect Freedom PAC.

Anselmo’s attempt to establish a restaurant, winery and resort hotel near Shingletown more than a decade ago failed after multiple run-ins with the Shasta County Department of Resource Management. It seems Reverge wasn’t fond of filing for building permits for the numerous structures on his property.

The county filed a lawsuit. Anselmo lost and was ordered to pay more than $1 million in fines. He sold the $30 million property at a loss and moved back to his home state of Connecticut.

Since entering the local political scene five years ago, Anselmo has publicly expressed his desire to dismantle Shasta County government one piece at time, beginning with the Department of Resource Management.

District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye.

In early 2022, then District 1 supervisor candidate Kevin Crye flew to Arizona to personally meet Anselmo and kiss the ring. Crye received a $4900 maximum donation from Anselmo and advertising support from Anselmo-funded PACs. It was enough to propel him to a narrow victory over Erin Resner in the November 2022 general election race for the District 1 supervisor seat.

Another Anselmo-backed candidate, Chris Kelstrom, won the District 5 supervisor seat vacated by Baugh. Kelstrom and Jones are schoolboy chums, and together with Crye formed the board’s new MAGA majority in early 2023.

For their first major act of defiance, the trio terminated the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems. In doing so, they simultaneously embraced Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and fulfilled Anselmo’s desire to dismantle Shasta County.

Like the decision to fire Ramstrom, the MAGA majority terminated the Dominion contract without proof of any wrongdoing, and with little regard for the consequences, which included the disenfranchisement of more than 112,000 registered Shasta County voters.

The trio ordered Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen to create a hand-counted paper ballot voting system based on an unworkable plan pushed by infamous election denier and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and his gang of “election integrity” fraudsters.

MyPillow has lost more than $100 million since Lindell began his Big Lie crusade in 2020 and he’s being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion for alleged defamation—FOX News settled a similar lawsuit with Dominion for $781 million last year.

District 2 Supervisor Kevin Crye and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Those facts didn’t stop Crye from flying to Minnesota to meet with Lindell last March. Crye claimed Lindell offered to cover any costs Shasta County incurred in its shift to hand-counted paper ballots, including legal costs.

That, of course, never happened. The disenfranchising of 112,000 voters caught the state’s attention, as it should. The Assembly reacted immediately to the MAGA board’s termination of the Dominion contract without board majority having a suitable replacement.  The legislation, AB 969, was passed last September. It prohibits hand-counting of elections in counties with more than 1000 voters in regular elections and more than 5000 voters in special elections.

After Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 969 into law, the hand-counting plan Darling Allen’s team developed was scrapped in favor of the Hart InterCivic electronic voting system purchased to meet state and federal regulations after the Dominion contract was terminated.

The new system was used for the November special election, where a non-MAGA candidate won the open seat on the Gateway Unified School District board of trustees, flipping the district from MAGA to normal.

The MAGA majority’s aborted attempt to shift to hand-counted paper ballots, advertised as a cost-saving measure, wound up costing the county a total of $1.4 million according to recent figures provided by Assistant County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Joanna Francescut.

Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen.

It also cost the county something much dearer than mammon, the loss of longtime Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen, who earlier this month announced she’s retiring in May to recuperate from heart failure, four years before her term is up.

Darling Allen wasn’t included in A News Café’s recent story on misogynistic MAGA supervisors, but she could have been. Except for District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, no elected public official has taken more abuse from Jones, Crye, Kelstrom and their fellow travelers than Shasta County’s ROV. That abuse includes verbal and physical intimidation aimed at her and her staff across multiple election nights since 2020.

Authur Gorman, now a member of Shasta County Office of Education board, confronts Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen behind the elections building on June 7, 2020. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Los Tres Pendejos literally broke Cathy Darling Allen’s heart. Sensing she was wounded, the MAGA mob descended upon her office like jackals in the days before she announced her retirement.

It was easily one of the most sickening displays ever witnessed in local politics and raises the question: Is this how reasonable people behave?

Obviously, the answer is no. Most reasonable people, no matter what party they belong to, don’t tolerate such bullying and abuse, let alone perpetrate it.

Most reasonable people want elected officials to use the best evidence available when making decisions. They don’t like it when gangsters shoot from the hip like Jones, Crye and Kelstrom did recently when they eliminated impact fees for new development in the unincorporated county with no plan to replace the funding.

The supposedly conservative trio all claim to support law enforcement and first responders, but the impact fee elimination cuts nearly $1 million in annual funding for expanding local fire and police services, including funds for the proposed $125 million jail expansion.

Conversely, Jones stands to pocket $20,000 from eliminated impact fees on his proposed High Plains Shooting Sports Center near Millville, currently mired in a lawsuit filed by nearby rural residents.

Cosplaying his way to the top: District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.

Most reasonable people recognize corruption when they smell it; nevertheless, Jones refused to recuse himself from the vote to eliminate impact fees. It’s not the first time Jones, who still works at the family gun store, has failed to recuse himself from voting on issues that might benefit him.

That includes the 2nd Amendment resolution he sponsored and the MAGA board passed last year and his current push to permit county employees to carry concealed handguns to work.

As if the county workplace weren’t already toxic enough, Richard Gallardo, a self-appointed enforcer for the MAGA mob with close ties to Jones, Crye and Kelstrom, recently announced yet another witch hunt against county employees during the public comment period at a BOS meeting.

To be certain, the MAGA majority encourages its minions to feign outrage at meetings.

District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones confers with Rich Gallardo. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

“There’s been some concerning activity,” Gallardo said mysteriously. “I’m not sure where in 2023. I’m not sure who. We’ve had staff be subversive, undermine, insubordinate at a minimum. … I hope to see some closed agenda items for discipline for staff because I think it’s time.”

At the same meeting, Reverge Anselmo bagman and Water Users Comittee treasurer/controller Mark Kent read verbatim racist Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s defiant speech against a U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering his state to remove the razor wire and grant federal agents access to a border crossing where three immigrants were recently killed.

Reverge Anselmo bagman and Water Users Committee treasurer Mark Kent. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

“Our country is being invaded and we have a traitor in the White house who has taken bribes from our enemies,” Kent shouted at the audience as he went over the three-minute time limit for public speakers. “Terrorists are already here along with the Marxists. They have no love for our country. No respect for our laws.”

Kent knows firsthand about not respecting our laws. Last summer he assaulted A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain at a public town hall in front of a roomful of witnesses. It seems Kent didn’t consider Chamberlain a “patriot” worthy of attending what was advertised as a public event.

Kent yanked Chamberlain’s cell phone, which was attached to a lanyard around her neck, hard enough to give her a whiplash and concussion that still have not healed. Kent denies the allegation, which was witnessed by dozens of people; District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett has until July 5 to file charges.

By now, most reasonable people have figured out the Anselmo-backed MAGA board majority of Crye, Jones and Kelstrom is bad news for Shasta County.

From left supervisors Patrick Jones, chair Kevin Crye and Chris Kelstrom.

They’re not building the county up, as Jones recently claimed at the League of Women Voters forum.

District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones speaks at the League of Women Voters forum as District 3 candidate Win Carpenter stares ahead. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

They’re tearing it down one bad financial decision after another, one departing county employee at a time. They aim to continue the destruction if they remain in office. They brag about it.

What can be done? Vote. That’s why we have elections. The destructive MAGA board majority can be stopped at the ballot box. Here’s how we throw the bums out.

Step 1: Vote Yes to Recall District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye

District 1 Supervisor/Chair Kevin Crye.

Anyone still wondering why Shasta County District 1 Kevin Crye is being recalled needs to read A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain’s recent expose on Crye’s devious behavior in and out of office. Chamberlain uncovered what’s become the MAGA board majority’s main method of operation, the abuse of county employees, especially women:

“[Crye’s] most damaging personal actions as supervisor happen away from public view where he targets staff members who don’t see eye to eye with him; women in particular. Because of the stress and toxicity that Crye brings to the county’s highest-level offices, many employees have abandoned their county careers to accept other jobs away from Crye’s bullying, interference, sarcasm and sexism.”

A complaint has been filed with the county and a third-party investigation is underway, Chamberlain reported. Crye is also being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission for alleged income reporting violations from his Ninja Coalition promotional companies.

Chriss Street

There’s no question Crye stepped in the dookie big time when he met with Mike Lindell last March. His attempt to hire New California state separatist Chriss Street as county CEO met with similar distain.

The movement to recall Crye formed shortly after those stunts. According to campaign documents for 2023 and 2024, the Committee to Recall Kevin Crye has raised more than $350,000 to date, an astounding sum for a local election campaign.

As deep as his pockets are, Reverge Anselmo can’t seem to keep up with Crye’s opponents. More than half of the $250,000 the Connecticut curmudgeon donated to the Water Users Committee last year, $157,000, has been funneled into Crye’s “Stop Newsome (sic) No on Crye Recall” campaign, according to documents.

This is a well-financed propaganda operation designed to convince Shasta County voters that Crye’s recall has been orchestrated by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The message was shaped and placed by two out-of-state political organizations, WPA Intelligence from Oklahoma and Ax Media from Kansas City, MO, which received $22,000 and $48,000 respectively for their work.

Perhaps that’s why Crye’s highly polished TV commercials, one of which aired during the NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, feel so tone deaf and alien to northern California viewers.

It’s true that if Crye is recalled, Newsom could select his replacement, even though the Committee to Recall Kevin Crye has requested that the District 1 supervisor’s replacement be selected at the ballot box in November. But the notion that Newsom is the puppet master behind the chaos created by Crye, Jones and Kelstrom during the past year is insulting to citizens, especially county workers, who survived the storm.

Crye defeated Erin Resner by 90 votes in the 2022 November election for the District 1 seat, 5463 votes to 5373 votes. About 5000 District 1 voters felt strongly enough about Crye’s failed leadership to sign the petition to recall the supervisor last year, easily exceeding the 4151 signatures required by law.

As always, voter turnout will be key. The turnout for the November 2022 general election was 61.8 percent. The turnout for the presidential primary in June 2020 was slightly lower at 58 percent.

Unfortunately, it will take more than just Crye’s recall to return the Shasta County Board of Supervisors to some semblance of normalcy. Reasonable people need to win 2 out of the 3 open supervisor seats to flip the board back to sanity. It can be done but it’s a big ask.

Shasta County District 2 Supervisor candidate Susanne Baremore.

Step 2: Choose a Reasonable Person for Shasta County District 2 Supervisor

Of the four contenders running for the District 2 supervisor seat, only two can be called reasonable or rational candidates; community advocate and former county employee Susanne Baremore, and retired RPD homicide detective Allen Long.

More than any other candidate for the District 2 seat, Baremore’s extensive experience working as a liaison between county government and state government is directly applicable to the supervisor position. During the past several years of tumultuous board meetings, Baremore has been one of the few voices of reason urging the MAGA supervisors to moderate their uncivil tone and make informed decisions that benefit all Shasta County residents, not just their own narrow constituency.

“It has come to my attention that people in the community are threatening and harassing people, all the way from department heads and elected officials all the way down to the entry level jobs,” Baremore criticized the board at a meeting last month.

“It’s a felony to submit terrorist threats, to harass, to demean county employees and you’re kind of the catalyst for this,” she continued. “The behavior on this dais, this environment, has filtered down into our community. I would like to ask that you figure out how to comport yourselves.”

Good luck with that!

While Long’s administrative experience isn’t necessarily as applicable as Baremore’s, the Cal grad business major and 24-year law enforcement veteran served in management level positions at RPD where he led budgeting, staffing and policy. Public safety is always near the fore of Shasta County concerns and with endorsements from retired Shasta County Sheriffs Jim Pope and Tom Bosenko Long has the clear edge there.

District 2 Supervisor candidate Allen Long.

Long also has an edge moneywise. So far, he has raised more than $10,000 according to campaign finance records for 2023 and 2024; Baremore has raised more than $5000. Neither candidate is accepting donations from the Reverge Anselmo-funded Water Users Committee.

“I would not from WUC nor Reverge Anselmo, as I believe local politics should remain local,” Baremore told A News Café. “Billionaires 3,000 miles away should not be influencing the decisions for our county which should be made by our community—our friends and neighbors who know best how to run our county.”

Long shared similar sentiments about outsider Anselmo’s involvement in Shasta County’s elections.

“I have not taken or been offered any contributions from the Water Users Committee/Reverge Anselmo, and I will not,” Long said. “I do not like the outside influence of a mega-donor unduly influencing our local politics, especially one who has professed a desire to harm Shasta County, and therefore our citizens.”

Not so with their full MAGA competitors Dr. Daniel Sloan and Dr. Laura Hobbs, both of whom have accepted maximum $5500 donations from the Anselmo-funded Water Users Committee.

“The county is using the power of their office to punish conservative-minded people they disagree with,” Hobbs told A News Café, referencing the private chapel Anselmo built in a failed effort to spin his “I don’t need no stinking building permits!” case into a freedom of religion issue.

Hobbs claims she earned a doctorate in microbiology a decade ago, but apparently, she eschewed her profession to become a stay-at-home-mom. Now she falsely calls herself an election integrity expert.

Sloan, the Simpson College business and economics professor who has an obscure doctorate in the future of Chinese currency, did not reply to A News Café’s request for comment.

Lately, Sloan has dropped the “Dr.” honorific from his campaign materials, perhaps recalling the shrieks of derision directed at Dr. Jill Biden, who has a doctorate in education, by the MAGA crowd after her husband, President Joe Biden thumped Trump in the 2020 election.

But back in November, Sloan, the chair of the Shasta County Republican Central Committee, endorsed himself for the District 2 seat. Sloan claims he revitalized and unified the Shasta County Republican Central Committee during his tenure.

The truth is the opposite. Perhaps more than any other local Republican, Sloan is responsible for killing the Republican Party as it formerly existed in Shasta County.

Who can forget the shrill fit Dr. Sloan threw when current District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman wore a blue “Recall Crye” T-shirt to a board meeting last year?

Thanks to a change in District 2’s boundaries and his inability to relocate, Garman now resides in District 5 and is ineligible to run for the seat he won in the 2021 Moty recall.

Dr. Sloan did not approve of Shasta County District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman’s attire.

Sloan cited Ronald Reagan’s admonition to never attack fellow Republicans in his rant, apparently forgetting he was attacking Garman, a Republican. He also failed to support former Republican District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty, or current Republican District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert from the local MAGA mob.

In the same Shasta County Republican Central Committee announcement endorsing Sloan last November, the committee endorsed State of Jefferson spokesperson Win Carpenter for District 3 supervisor and election-denying incumbent Patrick Jones for District 4.

District 3 candidate Win Carpenter speaks at a recent League of Women Voters forum. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Since when has the Shasta County Republican Party supported SOJ separatism and outright denial of proven election results? The answer is since Sloan took over as chair of the central committee and refused to push back against Trumpist and State of Jefferson separatist extremism.

In doing so, he may have ushered in his own demise as a candidate, because if anything Hobbs is even more of a full-throated Trump cultist and believer in the Big Lie than Sloan.

Dr. Laura Hobbs, pro-MAGA election denier.

Hobbs imagines she can’t be bought, even as Reverge Anselmo, an out-of-state megalomaniac multimillionaire who has openly stated he wants to harm Shasta County, pays her freight. It would not be surprising if Hobbs’ degree was in ornithology, so closely does she parrot the Trump dogma.

To be clear, Hobbs is not a recognized election integrity expert by any legitimate professional organization. Instead, she’s been fed a steady dose of lies by Mike Lindell’s election denying grifters, including Linda Rantz and Dr. Doug Frank. Crye and Jones have invited these dubious characters to Shasta County repeated times to spread Lindell’s election disinformation.

How does A News Café know this? Hobbs told us that Mike Lindell and Frank are two of her biggest supporters. For the record, Frank’s doctorate is in mathematics not election integrity. When he tried to claim he was an election integrity expert in an Oregon election fraud case last, the judge told Frank to get lost.

If we’ve learning anything here, it’s that there’s a reason why reasonable people frown on individuals who use the “Dr.” honorific in vain, especially when they’re using it to assert authority in a subject they know little about.

“I am 100% MAGA and America First,” Hobbs states in the first sentence of her campaign bio. For the reasonable people in District 2, there’s no need to read any further.

Vote for Susanne Baremore or Allen Long, because the other two candidates are mad-dog Trumpsters hell-bent on destroying Shasta County as we know it.

Don’t let that phony “Dr.” honorific fool you.

Coming soon: Part 2!

If you appreciate investigative journalist R.V. Scheide’s reporting, please consider making a donation to A News Cafe.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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