(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of Q-and-As featuring candidates for local offices. Respondents were given questions with word limits; responses are in their own words. Elipses are used to signify the candidate went over the word limit.)
Three candidates are vying for a supervisor’s seat opening up as incumbent Jim Whiteaker serves his final year in the position – he’s not up for re-election.
Karm Bains, Stacy Brookman and Tej Maan are seeking voter approval.
We’re asking supervisor candidates about homelessness, domestic violence, housing, and the ag/urban interface. Following are responses:
1. Please tell us a little about yourself – you are free to list any background or credentials you feel are relevant.
Bains: A fourth-generation farmer, I’m the only candidate who is a lifelong resident of Sutter County’s District 4 (46 years). I was elected to serve on the Sutter County Board of Education, as an appointee of the Governor on the 13th District Agricultural Association and I own a small business.
Brookman: I am a retired deputy sheriff and small business owner. I have over 25 years of experience in public safety and private business. I still have more to give to our community and want to put my experience to work. My number one priority will be you and your families.
Maan: I bring real local government experience to the race for supervisor. During eight years of service on the Yuba City Council, I gained experience that is essential to be effective. I’ve balance budgets, prioritized public safety to reduce violent gang activity and worked to secure funding to fix area levees.
2. Homelessness is most often identified as one of the leading concerns of constituents of most districts. What’s your current assessment of the issue?
Brookman: The people, rather than the government, are the most effective at addressing the issue of homelessness that exists in every community. Historically, churches and charities have been the resource for a hand up to the less fortunate; they know how to help those that want to be helped.Where the government can contribute is in the area of drug using homeless who commit crimes and with mentally ill homeless individuals.
Maan: From 1992 through 2015 state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion on an array of programs and, sadly, the problem is only becoming worse. The solution is not just more investment. We need to invest in programs and resources that address the underlying causes of homelessness like the epidemic of drug addiction, mental illness and job training. We must also never forget our duty to our homeless veterans.
Bains: There is no cookie cutter solution to the homeless crisis. Each case of homelessness is unique and needs to be managed individually. While we work to get our homeless placed in permanent housing, we must stem the flow of new cases into homelessness through prevention and education, while implementing affordable housing solutions. We must enforce existing ordinances and find greater means to police the situation to prevent this from recurring.
3. Domestic violence crimes make up a large percentage of felony crimes cited in our region. Can and should supervisors do anything to influence this issue? What?
Maan: I am saddened by statistics that point to violence or hardship within area families. I believe that local leaders can influence the well-being of families by advancing policies that are family and community friendly that reduce burdens and costs on families. Family resource services can be promoted through local government and non profit agencies to connect struggling families with resources for employment, substance abuse, financial education and conflict management.
Bains: Developing an educational campaign to deploy in Sutter County could help educate both men and women on the issue. Many times juveniles experience relationship violence, making it imperative that we educate teens at the same time that we educate adults. Working with Casa de Esperanza, we could require residents found guilty of domestic violence to attend classes on healthy relationships, managing anger/frustration, which could result in positive outcomes, reducing recidivism.
Brookman: I believe that assisting the Health Department and Sheriff’s Department with funding for education on awareness and prevention would be best route for supervisors.
4. Housing development stalled with the last recession and has never picked back up. What needs to be done?
Bains: To stimulate housing development, Sutter County could explore reducing or eliminating impact fees for developers. This would send a clear message that we are “open for business,” allowing us to compete with other jurisdictions in our region that are charging enormous, prohibitive impact fees. We must strike a balance between development and what we cherish most: maintaining our small-town, rural way of life.
Brookman: Development has ramped up heavily in surrounding communities. The development fees to build in larger jurisdictions are either the same or less in some cases, so when the return on a developer’s investment is far less in Sutter County, there is no incentive to build here. An analysis of the county’s development fee structure is necessary to bring it in line with neighboring communities relative to population, services and amenities.
Maan: In the past two decades, Sutter County experienced the housing boom and subsequent downturn.
These housing cycle effected all communities in the region. Because of my background in local government, land use planning and economic development, I’m prepared to work to ensure that we are well positioned to engage infrastructure and housing growth so that we can grow jobs and housing that meets the long-term needs of our community.
5. Please give us your thoughts on the agriculture/urban interface in Sutter County. How does the county best serve the interests of residential areas and the agriculture that surrounds them?
Brookman: Sutter County is an agricultural county; it is the responsibility of residential developers to design their communities in the best way to mitigate the impacts of the existing surrounding agricultural land uses on the new development. It is not the responsibility of the existing farmer to accommodate the new residential development. Green space, street layout, lot size and buffer zones can be mitigating design features implemented by the developer.
Maan: We have a general plan and process that should guide and direct decision making to avoid and limit land use conflicts. We must work collaboratively between city and county governments to make sure that we plan for growth and successfully balance agricultural, industrial and residential land uses.
Smart land use planning should be a collaborative, transparent and thorough process that balances all interests and is consistent with our long-term planning.
Bains: Sutter County is the breadbasket for the world. While it’s important to provide an adequate number of houses, residents need to understand that farming is the backbone of our local economy. Farmers have the right to farm, which can mean inconvenient smells, spraying and sounds. It’s part of the “charm” of living in a small, agricultural community. I’m an advocate for smart, well-planned development that flows contiguously, not leap-frog development.
6. Why are you the best person for this position; or what distinguishes you from your opponent(s); or what will your priorities be, if elected?
Maan: This race boils down to three critical qualifications: 1. Experience. 2. Availability. 3. Commitment. First, having served eight years on the Yuba City Council, I’m the only candidate who has real local government experience. Second, because I’m retired, I’m prepared to be a full-time supervisor and dedicate myself to the job. Finally, my life-long community service demonstrates my total commitment to community service. I’ve been active in the leadership of the Yuba-Sutter Fair Board; Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce; the American Red Cross Board; and nearly 18 years serving area children through Yuba City Kiwanis.
Bains: Our Fire Departments are grossly underfunded, putting residents and visitors in dangerous, life-threatening situations and have increased our insurance rates. I will find solutions to provide greater funding for public safety to provide better protection. It takes a business-minded individual to tackle many of the issues we face.
We have the largest budget in history with a huge unpaid pension liability that needs serious attention. I’m unafraid to address the important issues facing Sutter County. I’m proud to have the endorsement of the past colleagues, co-workers and family members of my opponents in this race; I think that speaks volumes.
Brookman: I feel that my experience in both public safety as well as private business can be a huge benefit to the county. I believe I am the only candidate with experience in both.
This experience varies from personnel matters to preparing budgets and even grant writing. Like many of you, I am tired of seeing the same names and faces in local government. I want to be your voice and will promise accessibility 7 days a week. I will say again, my number one priority will be the citizens.