Q&A with Tehama County Supervisor Candidates

I sent a questionnaire to each of the eight candidates for the three available supervisor seats in Districts 1, 2, and 5 on the March 5 primary ballot. All but one candidate returned them to me. Robert Burroughs, candidate for District 1, responded with his flyer, which I will include below. You can glean whatever answers you like from that.

All of the candidates got the same questions for the first six. The final question was tailored individually for each one. My endorsements are at the end, in case you want to just scroll down and take my word for it.

Unlike Shasta County, there are no lunatics running. No Connecticut billionaires trying to take over. All eight of our candidates appear to be good people – some are just more appropriate choices than others.

A little background on each candidate, and then we’ll get right to the questions. In District 1, we have current Red Bluff Mayor Pro Tem (and former Mayor) Kris Deiters running against decorated Navy Veteran (Seabee!) Robert Burroughs. Bill Moule currently holds that seat, and he was wise not to run again. ‘Nuff said.

District 2 has three candidates. Incumbent Candy Carlson, former Red Bluff City Councilwoman Johnna Jones, and Tom Walker, who runs his family’s business, Tri-R-Gas in Red Bluff.

District 5 also has three candidates. Incumbent John Leach, who is older than Joe Biden, Greg Jones, a nut farmer who also lectures on Economics at Chico State University, and Sharon Novak, who wears many very cool hats, including dog trainer and pilates instructor. OK, let’s get to it!

What do you see as the three most important challenges facing the county and its citizens and what plans do you have to address them? Please be specific.

John Leach – D5

JOHN LEACH (D5) – One of the challenges facing Tehama County is the number of dry wells and at the present time we have no recharge in place, however the ground water commission is preparing a plan and working with farmers to get permission to use their land for recharge. I believe as I have set in on many of the ground water commission board meetings, they are working on several plans to address the concerns of the community. Another concern is the conditions of our roads in Tehama County. Until our leaders in Sacramento get their act together there is just not enough funds to properly fix our roads the way they should be maintained. My plans on addressing them are to stay abreast of them and gain as much knowledge of the situations and do what I can do as a County Supervisor for the good of the County.

SHARON NOVAK (D5)– 1)2) Addiction and lack of effective communication. Most of our problems stem from these twin terrors. I include OTC drugs like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, love of money, attention and power and ES “emotional surges” in the category of addiction. By ES, I mean the chemical changes that our bodies go through when we are highly emotional. When we feel angry or victimized, our body is flooded with cortisols and adrenalin and god knows what. This becomes a default behavior and we find ways to cultivate the feeling like hanging out in echo chambers where our friends and like-minded people validate our emotions as well as using social media that skewers our feed to our biases. The problem here is people are and should be different but because we aren’t communicating effectively, our communities, relationships and society suffers because we are wasting time fighting about things that in a greater scheme are maybe not so important. We like to say we have open minds, but unless we are able to find points and argue, at least in theory, of the other viewpoint, we are biased and not open minded. But, we cannot think about another’s viewpoint if we feel WE are unheard. I bring extensive mediation experience and a lifetime of cultivated compassion that I feel will be quite helpful to this problem. I would talk to top and bottom county employees and hear their concerns, use and reward their suggestions whenever possible.

3) Roads. This was the number 1 concern overall because the “town” folks I spoke with brought this up more than the ones not in “towns”, who were very concerned about water as they depended on wells for water. I would check workers references and survey the citizenry as well county employees with questions like: What can we do about our roads? Who do we report “bad” roads to? Is there anything we can do to help in maintaining roads? Why does government regulation forbid us from fixing public roads that we must use? What can we do to quality control the quality or materials, work, worker conditions and costs of road construction and repairs so that the downtown Corning business district and NE Corning residential road disasters are not repeated?

GREG JONES (D5) – 1. Poverty. I believe this is the most important issue facing our County (and country). It is not just low-income, but a cluster of life adversities that prevent human flourishing. If this can be addressed effectively then there are many positive externalities, from increased public safety to better educational outcomes and a rise in public health. Too often we believe throwing more money at an issue creates better outcomes. But healthy and thriving communities are produced by a raft of social institutions (families, schools, employers, churches, neighborhood groups) that build community bonds. If our County wants communities rich in social connection that creates stability, it is dependent upon all of us participating in our institutions. My family and I believe it is our duty to be involved.

2. Unity. Increasingly there is a trend in our country where we surround ourselves with people of similar backgrounds. Political thought, socio-economic standing, educational attainment, etc. We rarely know and have quality relationships with people who do not agree with us. This accentuates divisiveness because it is easier to discount someone’s humanity that disagrees with us if we do not have a personal relationship with them. I am a fourth-generation farmer and have been teaching at the tertiary level since 2009. My group of acquaintances who I call friends are diverse in every way—and I am better for it. While I may not agree with anyone all the time, all humans deserve a baseline of honor and respect.

3. Economic Development. With the degree of debt at Federal and State levels the most difficult issue for local government moving forward is Austerity. How do elected officials make difficult decisions when our revenues are less than our financial obligations? I am not opposed to increasing revenues (whether it be something general like the failed Measure G in 2020, or a specific public safety tax), but it is evident by the failure of efforts in the past that tax increases are broadly disliked in Tehama County. Therefore, the best and most effective way to have proper funding for our institutions is to attract business in order to create a larger and more stable tax base. We should be investing our local resources into an individual/group that would actively recruit economic activity to our County. Glenn County has this, and they have been very successful in their efforts. Why not us?

Candy Carlson – D2

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – My top three are 1) Water 2) Budget and Planning 3) Staffing.

We all need to be ready to look at how we use water, and what we can do, individually and collectively, to conserve and protect this essential resource. SGMA was passed by the state legislature to insure that future generations will still have water. The Tehama County Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) failed. We have to create the plan using data driven information and do what is right. I could not be more thrilled with the Grand Jury findings addressing the $0.29/acre fee as a tax. It is my belief, it is seriously inappropriate. I was the only board member addressing this when it was introduced. Wells are drying up. Last count I knew was just under 400. These are your neighbors and friends that are experiencing this hardship. We have to change what we are doing. Appropriate actions must be taken to protect our children’s future. These decisions must be data driven not based on profit or self-interest. Without accessible water, property values will plummet, and the mainstay of this region, agriculture, will no longer be viable …

Planning and responsible use of resources, including money are key to any entity’s successful outcomes. We currently do not have a working plan in place countywide that includes building maintenance, vehicle replacement (all electric vehicle requirement by 2035), etc. The budget should reflect both short and long-term needs considering emergencies, economic trends and more. Currently, the state is experiencing a downturn; we do not yet know how this will affect us. Our plan must be flexible enough to pivot when needed and still provide for essential services. The board has oversight requirements of the entire county, including how every dollar is spent. Oversight is about leadership, responsibility, accountability and transparency. How can five people with differing ideas lead without a plan? How do you know if you are successful if you do not have a plan? I believe an annual board retreat focused on setting priorities for short and long-term goals is essential. We are responsible for taxpayers’ dollars. We need to stop asking for more and use what we have more wisely.

Staffing shortages are nationwide and a reality we must face. I think we need to take a hard look at the way the county is structured and revise where we can for efficiencies. Remote work is here to stay. How can we best fashion our workload to allow more of this. We need to do whatever it takes to create a culture where people want to work and where you would want to invite your friends to work.

Additionally, the popular issues around elections are only a small fraction of what is important. There are many other issues such as an aging population; an insurance crisis; road and bridge conditions; secondary fire access roads; emerging technology and artificial intelligence (AI); the fentanyl crisis; relaxed laws allowing criminal activity to go unpunished and tying the hands of law enforcement, the district attorney and the courts; a changing environment around cannabis; county contracts and hiring practices …; scams and predatory business practices preying on our most vulnerable people; infrastructure needs; education resources needed to meet current workforce demands; human trafficking; homelessness; lack of affordable housing; food insecurity; and so much more…

Tom Walker – D2

TOM WALKER (D2) – I believe the most important challenge facing the county moving forward is the county budget. The state is currently having serious budget issues and this will likely affect our budget very soon, if it hasn’t already. I intend to make our county’s budget a priority and do what I can to keep us strong and solvent.

I regularly speak with citizens from all over Tehama County and one of the biggest questions I get is “Why can’t the Board of Supervisors pay the sheriff deputies what they are worth?” This challenge is definitely one that I believe needs to be resolved. There has been a lot of animosity on both sides of the issue. I would love to be able to help the two sides come together to do what is best for the County, as well as our staff.

Challenge number 3 is covered in the question about groundwater below.

JOHNNA JONES (D2) – Paramount in issues seems to be budget, not having a balanced budget cannot remain a normal occurrence. I’m not however crazy enough to believe the solution is easy. Unfortunately since the budget building process is less than transparent the actual plan will have to wait.

Access is a huge issue in our community, nearly 50% of our community live below the poverty level. Meaning many do not have access to things like wifi for education, or bus routes to work. But also means we have a severe shortage of things like Healthcare professionals regardless of income level. Building relationships & leveraging programs are vital to bridging these gaps, & are exactly the kinds of issues the COC & CAA are committed to assisting with. I’m so thankful for the opportunities the last almost 5 years I’ve had to work with these teams.

Transparency & attainability, both have been issues for many years. The county is less transparent than they could be on many fronts, that shouldn’t ever be the case so I intend to push for heightened Transparency. I also intend to be abundantly available. Elected officials spend the public’s money & do the public’s work, they should be available to the public. Also they should not be mocked, criticized, & belittled in regards to public comment. Warned that duplicate comments will not be tolerated, that the truth is inflammatory, etc are atrocious. I’ve sat in the audience for hours of public comment & on a dais for hours of public comment, so I can say from the other side that it’s unacceptable behavior from any elected official.

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – Public Safety, Economic Development, Infrastructure and Homeless Issues. As for specific plans the reality is that for too long issues have been compartmentalized when in fact one issue affects another. Issues need a more holistic approach. Would that require hard work and attention … Yes but it’s possible to do and it requires input from the public which the BOS needs respect and consideration.

What unique qualities and experience do you bring to the table?

JOHN LEACH (D5) – As a concerned citizen and as a supervisor, I believe that I bring a lot of unique qualities to the table. As a former United States Air Force Vietnam Veteran who supported this United States in war managing and maintaining an eight million dollar B-52 aircraft and a crew of five men is one quality, starting a management firm as owner/CEO from the ground up building it to a multimillion company creating jobs for employees, working for a large corporation in southern California as a waste management & recycling specialist developing a program that resulted in 2.3 million dollar in waste reduction costs, serving the City of Corning as a two term city councilman, three terms as the American Legion District 4 Commander and as the Department of California American Legion as the Vice Commander representing Area 1 the largest area in the state, serving 7 districts 91 Legion Post and 12,348 legionnaires .

GREG JONES (D5) – First, I am from here. I was born in Los Molinos, am raising my family here, and want to be here long term. I believe you need to be vested in your community to be qualified to serve it. Secondly, I believe my background in Economics makes me uniquely qualified among the candidates running for Supervisor. One role of the Board of Supervisors is to solve a principal-agent issue for the County. Namely, how does the public ensure the leaders of our county offices are managing their departments in a financially sound way? Financial mismanagement and lack of transparency has real opportunity costs. Any monies spent irresponsibly or inefficiently are monies we do not have to address real needs that are important to our county.

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – What is unique about me is that I am able to fight and have many times fought for what is right, even if it means defending people I don’t like. Bringing order to chaos is very satisfying to me. My authenticity shines and often it creates a rippling effect of “giving permission” for others to be their authentic selves so that they can be happy. I truly want people to be happy. I like to believe I am above average intelligence but so do most people. None the less, I have learned a myriad of varied skills in my life and most of them, I am able to teach. The things I know and can teach include reading, juggling, food processing and all levels of restaurant work, acupressure massage, martial arts, bicycling, chi kung, austere first aid, water location, Pilates, superadobe construction, mediation, and dog obedience, handling and protection work.

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – I am a US Air Force Veteran. I hold degrees in Business and Psychology. I owned and operated two successful businesses for more than 14 years. I understand budget and finance, and so on … but I believe my strongest qualities are my ability to listen to other people’s points of view and to consider many sides of an issue, to remain neutral and look at processes, systems and procedures rather than blame people for problems. Ability to be resourceful and do research. I have patience and try to look at the opportunities that present themselves even when the situation looks impossible. I am a problem solver and I do not give up. I think a person can be part of the problem or part of the solution. I choose to be part of the solution. The political process can look and feel very messy, but it can also generate amazing results.

JOHNNA JONES (D2) – Obviously everyone brings unique perspectives to the board, and I’m glad for once that being a parent isn’t something that sets me apart because I’ve always been alone in that perspective in the past. But I do believe I’m the only one with experience & fresh eyes. I have previous experience from the city in ways only someone from the inside of small town government would, but that experience not being gathered with the county gives me a unique perspective for our district. I have no problem standing up for our district 2 city citizens in their city issues & county issues alike.

TOM WALKER (D2) – I was born and raised in Tehama County. After graduating from Red Bluff High School, I earned a business degree from Chico State. While working in my local family business for the last 20 years, I’ve learned how to manage a budget, manage employees, make fiscally responsible decisions (even when not popular), and keep my customers happy. I feel like these skills and experience will serve me well in the job of County Supervisor. I also have had the privilege to talk with many citizens from all over the county. I hear from lifelong residents that have opinions and questions about how the county should be ran. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to new residents moving into Tehama County and learn what attracts residents to our community. These perspectives give me a broad picture of our community and insight as to how we can work better together.

Kris Deiters – D1

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – This question requires a bit of hubris to answer so I will speak to experience. I believe that being elected twice to City Council, being Mayor for 3 years and Mayor Pro Tem for 2 has afforded me to develop relationships that would be beneficial to being an effective Supervisor. Additionally being in my 6th year on Council I have insight into how government works, or doesn’t work, that would be an asset.

Do you think our Groundwater Commission is doing a good job? Do you have any suggestions on how to achieve sustainability in our overdrafted aquifers?

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – I would say the Groundwater Commission could use some improvement no doubt. With recent changes we will soon see if there are positives that result from new Members.

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – The Groundwater Commission was working with a paid consultant, a firm with experts on staff that should have been able to influence a successful outcome with regard to the mandates of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). I am disappointed in the outcome of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), but now, we just need to fix it. The Groundwater Commission was the working group that was responsible for taking into consideration sustainability of this resource into the future. The plan did not reflect that. It did not provide for action to prevent wells from drying up. When the numbers were low, the GC could have taken preventative action. Instead, they fought any action that might have prevented more. To date, nearly 400 wells have dried up in this county. I am disturbed greatly by this. We need to consider expert data and information and do better. If we do not change what we are doing, the consequences are not something any of us will enjoy. We already have data to identify critical areas. There are statewide plans already developed for this. We do not have to recreate the wheel. DWR and other experts have been working on this for years.

Johnna Jones – D2

JOHNNA JONES (D2) – Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to attend every public meeting, so I do not have first hand knowledge of the progress the Groundwater Commission is making. I know that the fact I’ve received numerous letters asking if my city parcel has an ag well, yet none asking if my parent’s property outside city limits have a well at all does not give me abundant confidence.

TOM WALKER (D2) – I have talked to some of the members of the Groundwater Commission and I believe they are doing a good job with the task they were assigned. I think that they have the difficult task of complying with a state mandate that nobody wanted to undertake. I think we are seeing the result of that difficult task now as the grand jury report outlines their opinions and criticism. I am trying to see the issue from both sides and continue to learn more about what has happened prior and what the county needs to accomplish moving forward. I believe that before I can make an informed decision on what that solution is, I should review all the options and information that were presented to the Board of Supervisors when it decided to move forward with the path we are currently on. I see the value of keeping local stakeholders on the groundwater commission, instead of letting those decisions go to the state. However, I know that we citizens don’t trust the state. In my opinion, essentially the next mandate from the state will be the installation of meters and telling citizens that they are “just monitoring usage.” This is a slippery slope, because I believe after that, there will be a charge for the water we use from the state. I am very concerned with this issue, just as all of my neighbors are. As a Supervisor, I will look for opportunities for the public’s education on these issues so we are better informed and can find a solution that works for a majority of the county.

JOHN LEACH (D5) – I do believe that our Ground Water Commission is doing their best with the information that they have to work with. As far as achieving sustainability in our over drafted aquifers, and what will sustain the aquifers, we need a several wet years in a row and a recharge plan in place in order to save and retain the excess run off and not allow it to just go downstream to the river and run into the ocean.

GREG JONES (D5) – Frankly, no. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed a decade ago and we are still not able to do anything actionable to sustain and recharge our underground water resources. While on my side of the river I cannot empathize with homeowners on the west side of our county, I can express sympathy to the anxiety and fear that would come with insecurity of water. I took time to speak with a geologist this week, and it is scary that despite our wettest winter on record in some time, the groundwater levels in portions of our county did not recover as much as hoped. Looking at historical precedent in the Coachella Valley (where groundwater subsistence was a huge issue prior to the construction of the Hoover Dam) and the southern San Joaquin Valley, avoiding the costs of groundwater subsidence is essential for the long-term interests of our County. My favorite author is John Steinbeck, and as a fan of “The Grapes of Wrath” and “To a God Unknown” the volatility of the climate of our state is understood. Our environment in California is challenging, and we should be doing more to capture runoff, to recharge our aquifers in our wet seasons and be better able to survive in dry seasons.

Sharon Novak (atop Brokeoff Mountain!) D5

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – Without water, there is nothing. No plants, no shade, no animals, no place for people to be outside. Specifically, I would put the brakes on permitting new orchards over 100 acres and new mega wells. Since ag is using over 90% of the water, then it’s not unreasonable to ask them to do their share and find ways to save at least 50% of their current use. Some options for them to consider implementing would be Huglekultur, a deep compost method, cover crops to reduce evaporation, cultivating drought tolerant trees, moving away from trees to different crops that use less water. Using grant money to develop these ideas, to seal the ancient wells that could and should be grandfathered in and to buy land for preservation areas like the current Vina Plains Preserve along 99E in SE District 5 are reality based solutions. In my opinion the well survey sent to residents was an epic FAIL. Over half the people I spoke with in my canvassing so far did not fill out this survey. The reasons ranged from “gov already has the info” to “government overreach” to “%#@##!

Are you prepared to give this job the 40 plus hours it requires every week?

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – I am more than prepared to spend the time it takes to do the best job I can for not only District 1 residents but for the whole County.

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – Commitment: I am committed to dedicating the necessary time, including 40 plus hours per week, to this job to serve the best interests of Tehama County and its citizens. Please see my testaments on www.sharon4tehama.com to verify that I am capable of and have had commitments in relationships and jobs. Currently, I have copies of the Brown Act, Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, (the procedure the BoS uses) and the Constitution of the United States of America on my reading table to get a jump on the game.

JOHN LEACH (D5) – I currently spend at least 40 hours and some weeks it is 50 hours. I am the only one of the supervisors that is in my office every day of the week and many times on Saturday or Sunday spending time digesting the backup material for the next week’s agenda.

GREG JONES (D5) – Yes. I am aware of concerns that I teach and my ability to fulfill my responsibilities is in question. First, my teaching for over a decade has been two days a week, 30 weeks a year. When I made the Economics Department aware of my intent to run, they agreed to move my courses to Mondays and Wednesdays. This is a big undertaking, and I believe I have the strength, vitality, passion, and endurance to give the county the leadership it deserves. And I will be all in to meet this challenge.

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – I will and I do. It is most definitely a full-time commitment, but not a 9-5 job. It is a lot more than that. You work when necessary. I read at night and on the weekends, and attend meetings in the morning and at night even on the same day. I often work from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. or later. You work mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays, whatever is necessary to do the job.

JOHNNA JONES (D2) – I devoted 50 & 60 hrs a week on average to the city & absolutely intend for the county to require more time. I believe that most people are shocked to discover the time these positions take. Currently the only other full time commitment I have is my family.

TOM WALKER (D2) – Yes. I am aware of the time commitment and dedication that public office, and campaigning for that matter, takes. I know that if I am elected to this position, it means time away from my business as well as my family. Luckily, I have a very supportive family, and colleagues that have encouraged me to take this step. Further, community members all over Tehama County have encouraged me and my generation to “step up,” and that’s what I intend to do.

What will be your steepest learning curve if elected?

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – See water answer.

JOHN LEACH (D5) – My steepest learning curve the last three years has been trying to understand the complexity of the large county budget. Serving on the budget ad hoc last year was an eye opener, but now I do understand the budget in greater detail. If I am re-elected as district 5 supervisor, I will come into office with a tremendous amount of knowledge that I didn’t have three years ago.

Greg Jones – D5

GREG JONES (D5) – The county is a large entity, with many agencies working together to achieve outcomes to the betterment of its citizens. In order to make good decisions it is paramount to understand how all of County offices work together to produce outcomes people desire. This is no small task. If elected in March, my primary focus will be on immersing myself in the dynamics of each department, acquainting myself with their leadership, and delving into their respective budgets. Recognizing the inherent limitations of resources, it’s essential to comprehend the trade-offs involved. We may not be able to fulfill every desire within the county, but a thorough understanding of the costs and benefits of each decision I would be confronted with is imperative. In the words of Jeremy Bentham (the Utilitarian who I believe is the father of technical economics), our goal should be to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Thus, my commitment lies in navigating the complexities of our local government and ensuring my decisions are aligned with the overarching objective of serving our community’s best interest.

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – I wouldn’t necessarily define this as a learning curve but developing relationships within the County will certainly be a process and take time.

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – That learning curve is steep. One of the reasons I decided to run again. I believe my 9 years of experience is needed. There are many new department heads, and the most recently elected Supervisors currently have only one year of experience. I have the desire and energy to keep working hard for the citizens of my district and countywide. I will continue to hold monthly town hall meetings, as I have for the last 9 years. We are not broken, but we can always do better. I am a life learner. My natural curiosity allows me to keep up and to become familiar with what is new, such as the rewards and serious risks associated with AI, and how to regulate it locally.

JOHNNA JONES (D2) -The most dangerous is always the unknown, I can plan & prepare for anything I know is coming. I am sure there are issues, departments, regulations, something I’m not aware of. Those things will inevitably come to my attention when there is no time to play catch-up, leaving me face to face with a steep cliff I must either scale or jump off of(I’m not a fan of either) but I’ll give it my best & do what I must.

TOM WALKER (D2) – My steepest learning curve will be getting up to speed on all the pending issues and projects in our county. I plan to work with the county department heads that have years of experience and knowledge in their specific departments to educate myself. I have already met with some of them and plan on continuing to work with them when I’m elected. I also plan to continue listening to the citizens of Tehama county about their concerns and ideas on how to improve our county.

What do you admire most about your opponent(s)?

TOM WALKER (D2) – I admire their dedication and the commitment it takes to run for public office.

JOHNNA JONES (D2) -I don’t have the honor of knowing Mr. Walker, but I do know he is also a parent & so no doubt he knows commitment, heart, conflict resolution, time management, planning, & how to think on his feet. Because all good parents do. Ms.Carlson I have had the honor to work with some on different boards. She is compassionate & steadfast in her beliefs yet not unwilling to listen or learn. Though her daughter is an adult, she is still a dedicated parent & brings those same aforementioned parental skills.

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – I am very grateful to see people willing to serve this community. Opponents help to keep one sharp, and it helps to generate interest in the issues.

GREG JONES (D5) – A strong sense of service. I believe our Country has a crisis of identity because so few people are willing to participate in government. The health and vibrancy of a democracy requires school boards, city councils, and county boards to be just as important to the electorate as national and state offices. And making community bonds stronger when we volunteer and play active roles in the places we live. It is undeniable that the other citizens running for this office recognize this and prioritize serving the communities they live in.

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – I admire both candidates for putting themselves out there for this very important job.

John Leach is well known on our side of county and his service in the military is greatly appreciated. Also, his effort to raise funds and provide financial support to veterans who were victims of the campfire is admirable and the fire refugee and situation is near and dear to my heart.

Any young person who has served in the military and then as a teacher is to be commended. Education is another of my passions and I truly appreciate those who dedicate their time to helping others learn.

Looking forward to working with these fellows on improving our county regardless of who wins!

JOHN LEACH (D5) – What do I admire about my opponents? I really cannot answer that question as I really don’t know either one of them.

KRIS DEITERS (D1) – I don’t know a lot about my opponent but I do know I admire his service to our Country and his dedication to Veterans. He has earned and deserves our respect on that alone.

Final questions for each candidate

Kris, what differences between City and County government do you think might be the most challenging to get used to?

KRIS DEITERS (D1) -The size difference is certainly obvious. The challenge is to develop positive, working relationships and earning the trust of the various Departments. We need to restore respect and civility and the ability to agree to disagree without vilification.

Tom,  as you know, I have been critical of the law firm that serves as our County Counsel and employs your wife. How do you plan to avoid the conflict and pressure not to get your wife’s boss angry?

TOM WALKER (D2) – Yes, I am aware of your criticism of Prentice Long. I believe a conflict would exist if/when the Board is tasked with voting on the contract between the County and Prentice Long. If this vote came before the Board while I was Supervisor, I would determine that I had a conflict, and would remove myself from that discussion and not vote on that issue. This would be the same for any issue that I believed would be a conflict for myself. I own and manage a local family business and have many customers throughout Tehama County. There may be other conflicts that arise from our small community where I would need to conflict out of, and I would expect any Supervisor to do the same if they are in that position.

When it comes to “not making my wife’s boss angry,” I am not concerned with this issue. I don’t have a problem with making anyone angry if I’m making a decision that is best for Tehama County. I think that I would be able to work well with county counsel, other department heads and the other Supervisors. I also expect our department heads, staff, and other Supervisors to be professional and reasonable. My goal will be for local government to work better together across the board for the benefit of our community. Thank you for the opportunity to provide information about myself to Tehama County.

Johnna, what differences between City and County Government do you think will be the most challenging to get used to?

JOHNNA JONES (D2) – There are many differences between the county & the city for sure. One thing I might find a challenging adjustment is the fact many county department heads are also elected officials. In the city all department heads are employees or contractors which answer to the city manager who serves at the pleasure of the city council. When there is an issue within the city with a department head it can be taken up with & worked through with the city manager. That is a completely different situation in the county & will definitely be an adjustment.

Candy, you’ve been a supervisor for many years. What do you think you’ll be able to accomplish now that you haven’t been able to all these years?

CANDY CARLSON (D2) – I believe I have accomplished quite a lot in my time on the board. I believe my perspective has been valuable, and that I have been a catalyst for positive change. I have been able to work with the other board members get the Reeds Creek washout repaired, secure funding for the Corning Veterans Hall renovation, set aside and insure nearly $3 million went to local nonprofits and businesses in Tehama County, and much more. I look forward to working with the existing and any newly elected supervisors and department heads. I will continue to work to find better ways to keep the public informed and to be available (I can be reached at 707-578-3803). I do not have a selfish agenda. My goals are to work for a better budget process that includes department heads and the public in order to provide for all of the needs of the county. I would like to see data driven decision-making. I want to find better ways to retain talented people and still live within our means. Working together is how things are accomplished. To encourage better working relationships, I believe we need a board retreat every year, a governance manual, and a solid strategic plan. These things can provide working documents that can be flexible enough to pivot when needed and still provide a framework to address and accomplish beneficial outcomes for the entire county.

Sharon, you’re an unconventional candidate. Will you be an unconventional supervisor? What will make you different?

SHARON NOVAK (D5) – Unconventional? Is wanting to bring manners, transparency and decorum to BoS unconventional? A more accurate word might be old-fashioned. Old fashioned in the sense that before we became a plutocracy, our representatives actually represented us instead of pandering to their corporate masters and politicking their persona to get votes. They spent more time in their districts living their lives among their constituents instead of in DC listening to lobbyists and writing and fighting about making more rules that people don’t want or need and have perverted linkages and words most people don’t understand. Don’t you think it’s time to bring the words to a place where people understand what they are voting for and who put the money behind it. It’s a mistake to keep making the same mistakes. That is one definition of insanity.

If we as supervisors can define and address each issue in an organized and easily understandable one page document, we can streamline and accelerate our decision making processes. We can use this to get input and utilize other resources throughout our communities via internet and physical town hall meetings that are at more accessible times and locations. We are not rich and not expert people are capable of understanding and thinking of solutions. If an “expert” is not able to “one page” something, then in my opinion, they are not an expert. I expect more. Pretty sad if that is “unconventional.”

Greg, your business is nut hulling. Why should we trust you not to be a puppet of the irrigators who are depleting our groundwater?

GREG JONES (D5) – Fair question. First, I am a farmer, and it is a large part of my identity. I am proud of it. I moved home because all I have ever wanted to do is play in the dirt like my father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Moreover, most of the farmers in the county are family and friends to me. They are also a primary group of supporters to my campaign. I would like to point out there was not a single farmer or rancher who encouraged me to run for office in order to achieve a certain policy outcome. I am running to achieve more effective leadership for our district and county for all in our County. Secondly, there is no circumstance where I support irresponsible and unsustainable use of our groundwater resources. The justness of a policy (or any policy) should be viewed through a “veil of ignorance” (Thomas Rawles). When evaluating a policy, you should pretend to have a veil over your eyes. You do not know your station in society, whether you are man or woman, strong or weak, rich or poor… If you would support a policy regardless of where you were positioned in society, then it is a good policy, a just policy. I would never support a policy that puts the interests of one group at the expense of another. Furthermore, if the groundwater is being extracted at rates exceeding recharge, this is a policy that will eventually hurt the interests of farming communities. Lastly, I have heard rumors in my two months running for office of political “whisperers”, who inform members of the board how they should vote. If you get to know me, and I hope you would give me a fair evaluation, you will know I will come to my own conclusions and make decisions independently.

John, you will be 82 at the end of this term and 86 at the end of the next term if elected. What do you say to people who think you’re too old?

JOHN LEACH (D5) – I do not look at age as a factor, it is only a number and has no bearing on the capability of serving the position, if you are healthy and mentally stable age is not a factor. My mother lived to be 96 years old, I have a sister who will be 93 next month and doing well and a sister in Florida that is 5 years older than me. Our family has a long history of longevity. What do I tell people it is only a number.

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Welp, there you have it. And now for my endorsements. For District 1, I am endorsing Kris Deiters. She is a smart, experienced leader whose greatest quality may be her ability to listen and connect. Nothing against Robert Burroughs. He is a decorated veteran and has my admiration and respect. Deiters is simply the better choice for this job. If we were going to war with Butte County, I’d prefer Burroughs.

District 2 – I have to go with Candy Carlson. She has proven herself time and again. I think Johnna Jones will make an excellent Supervisor – maybe next time around if her heart is still in it. Tom Walker is not the change I personally want to see. I get a real Good Ol’ Boy vibe from him, and his wife’s job is a dealbreaker for me.

District 5 – I have great affection and gratitude for John Leach, but he is not the person he was, and not because of his age. His flip-flopping on or misunderstanding important issues has been frustrating. For example, he voted to allow Supes to choose their own reps to the GC. A week or two later, he sabotaged D3 Supe Pati Nolen’s attempt to do just that. And that’s just one example.

Sharon Novak is a brilliant, outside-the-box-thinking, problem solving, solution oriented, fearless firecracker. I encouraged her to run and she would make a terrific supe. So it may surprise you that Greg Jones is my choice. That’s right, a nut farmer. I firmly believe he is the bridge we need to work with the Ag Community about the future ramifications of overdraft. He is forward thinking, one of his top priorities is poverty, and he lectures on economics at a university. What’s not to like?

That said, Novak has brought so much to the conversation, I am rooting for a run-off between Jones and her, so she can continue to inspire us, sharing her ideas and spirit.

Robert Burroughs – D1


If you appreciate Liz Merry’s Tehama County reporting, and A News Cafe’s election coverage, please consider a financial contribution to this site. Thank you!

Liz Merry

Liz Merry was born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, then transplanted to the Jersey Shore. She moved to Chico in 1984 and married her comedy partner, Aaron Standish, in 1990. They have lived in Manton since 1994.

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