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Letter to the Editor: Follow the Facts


I grew up in Plumas County and returned to this amazing county as my primary residence a few years ago.  The last thing I thought I would do is get involved in local politics.  The negativity and he-said, she-said dynamics of it feels wrong.  I am an attorney and facts are what matter to me. I have known and appreciated Todd Johns for most of my life, though tangentially from a distance, and more recently, as Plumas County Sheriff as I closely watched his interactions with all of our communities devastated by Covid and Fire.  Objectively and factually, he has led this county with nothing but courage and dignity.  Throughout this campaign, he has adamantly refused to lower his ethical standards to the level of his opponent who has often led his campaign with mud-slinging.  I am disappointed, as I believe many of you are, that I have had to become political to defend a Sheriff who, on his record and integrity, should not have to be defending his position and who should not have been opposed in the first place.  I feel it must be ego on Mr. Cline’s side, because I do not see factual reasons to oppose a Sheriff who has been doing an exemplary job.

The recent letter by Mr. Hagwood is what has finally brought me to speak up. I do not begrudge anyone their opinion, and absolutely believe in our rights of open discourse and freedom of speech.  But when that discourse becomes muddled in conjecture and back peddling, my hackles get ruffled and I can’t stay silent.

The fact is, Mr. Hagwood supports Mr. Cline.  He wrote a letter in support of Mr. Cline dated May 11 and approved its publication, which was published in the Plumas News on May 12 – all absolutely fine and appropriate political discourse (to be fair, Mr. Hagwood did not state that “he approved its publication” but I am making the logical leap).  Now, here is where the facts don’t line up for me and I hope following my logic, and thus, confusion, is clear.

The same letter went out in the mail, signed, sealed, envelope ready and postmarked May 12 (the same day as publication).  It was the signed letter by Mr. Hagwood – which was not the version (signed) that was published.  The Plumas News did not publish the original signed letter. Mr. Hagwood has stated that “the content of the letter is a reproduction of the letter that I submitted earlier … once a letter is submitted to the paper, it becomes part of the public domain…”.  He is absolutely correct – the content was public domain, but not the original letter.

I want to be clear here.  I am not questioning Mr. Hagwood’s integrity.  I have no reason to disbelieve that he did not approve the letter for mailing.  He may have given the letter to Mr. Cline’s campaign for submission and publication to the paper – also perfectly fine.  But then how or who authorized its mass mailing?  The only logical conclusion, taking Mr. Hagwood for his word – is that Mr. Cline’s campaign went rogue and mailed this letter without Mr. Hagwood’s approval, thus causing backlash and back peddling for Mr. Hagwood to clear the air politically.  The campaign’s actions should worry you, it certainly does me.

Politics is messy, long, and tedious.  We are so lucky to have a system of government that allows us this discourse, no matter how ugly it gets.  But sometimes we have to take our emotions out of it and look at the facts as they align with our belief systems.  Todd Johns has factually exemplified nothing but integrity and should be able to continue to do so as your next elected Sheriff.


Kira Wattenburg


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