Letter to the Editor: Time to replace Supervisor Engel

The current spike of infections in our county (and the dubious honor of being # 1 in the state for COVID infections) did not come about by chance, but by specific actions and decisions made at the county supervisor level.
In April of last year, Supervisor Jeff Engel broke the law very publicly by going to get a haircut from his friend during the lockdown. Now whether you think this is “standing up to the man” or just “reckless,” the fact is that mixed messages, poor leadership, costly delays to mask mandates, and misplaced ideas of “liberty” have brought the situation to a head.
Where once it may have been possible to manage the pandemic with less intrusive methods like requiring masks indoors, hand washing and physical distancing, now it’s more likely that people feel forced to choose the more intrusive option of vaccination to protect their families. Is that “freedom?” Anyone who thinks requiring people to wear a piece of cloth around their nose and mouth during a pandemic is fascism— has never experienced fascism. And I hope you never do.
Ironically, Engel’s “freedom cut” has led to the necessity for requiring more intrusive means to control the virus, and is at the root of the current outbreak. For months, the board of supervisors resisted offering “zoom” access to meetings, even for the most COVID vulnerable among us. The public were given the choice to either risk infection, sharing the air with a super spreader, or be silenced. It took several of us researching COVID policies in counties around CA, determining that Plumas and Fresno alone (of 58 counties) did not offer any kind of remote access, a drumbeat of letters to the editor and to the board to finally get the issue on the agenda. Though the board finally voted to proceed with zoom access (4-1), this was over the objection of Chair Engel, who voted against providing safer remote access to meetings during a pandemic. One bad policy choice after another.
Clearly, Sup. Engel does not care to listen to the people he represents, and is willing to risk the health of our community to cling to partisan politics. If you are frustrated with your kids having to attend schools that have become cesspits of COVID, infections leading to school closures, work quarantines, etc, you better make sure you are registered to vote if you want things to change. Sup. Engel is up for re-election in District 5 in June 2022. If you live in E. Quincy, Mohawk Valley, Iron Horse, or Little Grass Valley, and you care about your community, now is the time to think about running for supervisor. (free health care and a decent salary!) It’s time we have new leadership on the board-someone who respects those they represent and who does not play politics or games with public health, but treats it as the serious life and death issue it is.
Josh Hart
Portola, CA