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Portola’s future

Into whose hands will it fall?

Eleven candidates. That’s how many individuals are vying for one of four seats up for election on the Portola City Council this November. They met in a forum hosted by the Plumas County League of Women Voters last Thursday in Portola.

It was an opportunity to get a closer look at a diverse group of individuals vying to represent the city. Portola’s roughly 1,032 registered voters won’t be able to say that they didn’t have a choice.

And their choice is important. As Plumas County’s only incorporated city, sometimes it begs the question: Why? Why does Portola exist? Are its citizens better off than their counterparts across the county? One could look at the fact that the city has no fire department, must contract with the sheriff for law enforcement, and its citizenry frequently complain about the state of its infrastructure. In fact talk of the city’s failing infrastructure and fire department dominated the evening’s discussion, as well as the economy and opportunities for area youth.

While each of the 10 candidates in attendance did their best to address those issues, there were few in attendance to hear. This was somewhat surprising given the number of candidates who are running for office. Based on the issues discussed at the forum, the city is at a critical juncture and this new wave of leaders could impact Portola’s future greatly.

The city incorporated in May of 1946 following a couple of failed attempts. Ironically, a few months after the city incorporated, its entire city council was recalled according to newspaper reports at the time. Quincy was also working to become a city during that period, but ultimately abandoned the effort.

Over the years, and as recently as this past year, there have been quiet and not-so-quiet discussions about disincorporating the city. Those who most recently looked into it said that by the time special districts — such as water, lighting and sewer — replaced the city entity, it wouldn’t represent a cost savings to citizenry and they would be relinquishing local control.

But that’s a discussion for another time. We applaud all of the individuals who have stepped forward and are willing to serve. Time and time again we have used this space to encourage people to become involved in their communities and to run for public office, We aren’t sure if 11 candidates is unprecedented, but we can’t remember the last time so many names appeared on the ballot for one entity. That said, with 11 candidates and 1,032 registered voters, this could be a very tight race and definitely a situation when every vote will count.

Well done Audrey

This is a week for news from the eastern end of the county. Audrey Ellis, the long-time director of the Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce (formerly the Eastern Plumas Chamber), has announced that she is retiring from the position so that she and her husband, Les, can return to their native England and be near family. It’s a loss not only for the Graeagle-Portola area, but for all of the county. Audrey has spearheaded efforts to promote Plumas County from the Lake Almanor Basin to the Sierra Valley. Les is known locally for Sierra Park, a housing development that features Energy Star and solar electric homes. Both Audrey and Les brought a high level of energy and enthusiasm to their projects and to the community, and they will be missed.

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