Community members attended a second question and answer forum for the candidates running for Plumas County Supervisor for District 3 on Thursday, May 10.
Held at the Almanor Recreation and Park District Center, the session began with a review and update by Sheriff Greg Hagwood about the successes and challenges of his department, including some possible scenarios regarding the initiatives in the upcoming elections.
One of the bright spots was his announcement about the county receiving a $25 million grant to build a new jail facility that he hopes will be completed sometime in 2020.
Candidate Michael Nashlund was unable to attend this forum due to a work related injury, but did have a prepared statement that was read to the crowd.
He indicated that he would like to see some positive changes in the recreational opportunities in the Almanor Basin. He also said because he believes in second chances, he would like to see the reinstatement of drug court in the judicial system on a county level.
Moderator Christy Chase then introduced candidates Sherrie Thrall and Joseph Maumoynier for their opening statements.
Incumbent Sherrie Thrall expressed her thanks for the honor of having served the District 3 communities for the last 11 years and added that she truly looks forward to being able to continue in that role.
“We have started some very good things and I hope I can bring them to realization for you,” she said.
Maumoynier said he would like to see a more “responsible and effective” county government.
He said most of the county departments are “top heavy” with too many management and supervisory positions and not enough “boots on the ground.”
His focus would be to eliminate some of those upper level positions and use the money to increase more productive staffing.
He said there is a need for more regular law enforcement patrols in the community and is an advocate for more staffing at the sheriff’s office.
After the opening statements, the candidates took questions submitted to the moderator.
The first question was about the possibility of an ordinance to have more control over internet/communication providers to the county.
Thrall explained that the biggest obstacle to better coverage is the lack of a large customer base.
“There are just not enough people here for them to make the investment,” she said.
She said that in conjunction with the sheriff and the Forest Service, she and the county are working with providers on several possible solutions, especially when it comes to emergency communications.
Maumoynier agreed that communication is very important and would also work on solutions.
On the question of how to improve the economy, Maumoynier noted he thought it could be as simple as offering businesses tax breaks to move their operations to Plumas County.
He also said providing a better education to our children would provide a better workforce for potential new businesses.
There was also an indication from him to try to reinvigorate the timber industry.
He said he would fight the necessary fight to renew timber harvesting in Plumas.
“I may get a few black eyes in the attempt, but I think I can get things moving again,” he said.
Thrall said that she and the county are always looking for potential new businesses that could be enticed to move here.
The biggest hurdles are the lack of easy access to the area via surface transportation and the shortage of a skilled workforce.
“There are programs, like Alliance for Workforce Development, designed to promote a more skilled workforce that are currently being used by the county and private companies,” she added.
Thrall noted that code enforcement is and has been a focal point for the county for some time, especially right now with two cannabis initiatives on the ballot.
The county has been without a code enforcement officer for a while and there is now a possible transition to the sheriff for some codes depending on the election results.
She hopes this situation will come to a positive solution soon after the election.
Maumoynier inquired as to why monies from a public safety grant had not been distributed to local fire departments.
Thrall responded that they had not received any of that money because they were independent special districts with their own tax base.
She said the money he was talking about was used for mental health sites and education.
Candidate Maumoynier indicated that he would have “regular business hours” in Chester. He said that he could better represent the community that way.
When asked if he would continue with a second job, he mentioned he would probably continue to tend bar on the weekends.
He also said he had plans, if elected, to donate 20 percent of his salary to local charities.
Thrall stated that from experience she found that regular business hours were almost impossible to maintain due to committee meetings, state meetings and other required attendance.
She stressed that this position is her only focus and she considers herself on call all the time.
“If you want me at night, I’m available; If you want me on the weekend, I’ll be there.” She said, “If I’m not gone on county business, I try to be available whenever you need me.”
This forum was not quite as structured as the one on April 12, which seemed to lend boldness to some supporters who could not resist expressing themselves in gestures or muted tones even though they had been asked not to.
Several attendees that brought this to the paper’s attention also indicated they were not influenced positively by the actions.