Q&A with District 1 candidates for Plumas County Supervisor

Dwight Ceresola and Bill Powers are the two candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot vying to represent District 1 on the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. They were the top two vote earners from a field of four that ran in the March Primary.

In that race Ceresola, a Sierra Valley rancher, received the most votes for 43.78 percent of the four-way race. Powers, who is a current Portola City Councilman and former supervisor, took 25.10 percent of the vote. The other candidates — Phil Jason Christian and John Pato (who ran as a write-in) — made up the remainder.

Labor Day traditionally kicks off the final push for the November election, but this is a different type of year with coronavirus preventing some of the more traditional forms of campaigning. Plumas News asked the candidates a series of questions to help them share some of their views.

Following are their responses. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

 

Name:Dwight Ceresola

Occupation: I am a retired Chief Master Sergeant (E9) from Nevada Air National Guard where I served for 30 years.

Q. What do you see as your primary role as a Plumas County supervisor?

A. I believe my primary role as a Plumas County supervisor is to represent the people of District 1 as well as all of Plumas County and make educated decisions/votes that are beneficial to our county.  I have experience with budgets, negotiating and coordinating with multiple agencies, I will utilize my knowledge, skills and abilities to best help serve my community and the people of District 1.

Q. Plumas County is in the process of adopting the 2020-2021 budget. How would you prioritize spending?

A. When looking at the 2020-2021 budget it is important to review all the departments and how they support the people of Plumas County. While attending the hearing held by the supervisors on September 8 2020, the general fund amount for the budget was reviewed.  In some departments where there are vacancies due to retirements or personnel moving into other positions, these should be reviewed and possibly not fill all of them at the present time. Because of Covid-19 travel for the county has been minimal, this has also helped to save money for the county. Equipment and vehicle upgrades would be an area to postpone any purchases at the present time. One needs to be looking at the cost of employees both retired and working in regards to the continued rise in healthcare insurance for county workers. Reviewing property and buildings owned by the county that may be leased for income could help generate more money.  With the new computer system, the budget module was delayed in being setup and information input was slowed, with this being set up and getting more personnel trained on the new system this will also help departments in the following years budget.

Q. Public safety is a major topic nationally. What would you do to bolster public safety locally or are you content with it as is?

A. In regards to safety in our county, I see positives that include the sheriff’s department updating their dispatch system that improved better communication with other agencies. I plan on meeting with Sherriff Todd Johns to have him brief me on safety programs already in place in our county and ask him questions about concerns that have been brought to my attention by constituents in District 1.

Q. Plumas County hired a county administrator. Do you think the relationship is working? Is there anything you would do to change the nature of the position?

A. Plumas County hired a county administrator, I feel this is an important position to have for our county. The county administrator is the relay point for departments heads and supervisors, the administrator collects information that is needed to help make decisions.  It is good to have one person that is the key communicator between the department heads and the supervisors.

Q. We have been living with the threat of coronavirus since March. Do you believe there should be more or less (or the same amount) of enforcement locally concerning the Governor’s Covid-19 orders?

A. I believe that the coronavirus hit our county hard, with our small businesses, schools, etc.  It has been a very trying time for everyone.  There have been many mandates set in place, which have been questioned whether they are legal or not, or really protect us from the virus, but our residents in the county have done a good job of complying with them. Our county has done well for our population size compared to our positive cases.  The Health Dept has kept the public informed of cases, and has provided live news feeds on Facebook addressing ways to keep safe and healthy during this time.  Some positive news that was shared at the Supervisor’s meeting by the Health Dept was that rural counties will hopefully soon be receiving guidelines that are more adapted to smaller counties like ours.  Once we see what those possible new guidelines will be for smaller counties, we can adjust what we have been doing accordingly.

Q. Coronavirus is changing the ways that candidates can campaign. How do you propose to get your message out? If you could share a message with your constituents using this forum what would it be?

A. Since the March elections I have stayed involved by attending meetings for several agencies to stay on top of what is happening in our county.  I have continued to attend the Supervisor meetings, Sierra Valley Ground Water meetings, Cemetery meetings for District 1, Plumas Fire Safe Council meetings, I have met with the District Attorney, and have attended the Local Emergency Study Group meetings.  I have taken time to assist where I can with different items that have come up over the past few months from these meetings.  I have stayed involved because I feel it is important to be informed and have as much information as possible when working for the constituents of District 1.

I would just like to conclude that I think it is important when people go to vote, that they consider voting for someone with a fresh set of eyes and ears to represent them.  Anyone that has met me over the past several months knows that I make myself available to my constituents for questions and concerns, and I always address those issues that have been brought to me, and if I don’t know the answer right away I take the time to research it and find it. If anyone would like to reach out to me you can email me at [email protected], I also have a Facebook page if you would like to check it out, and you can also message me on there.  My Facebook page is Elect Dwight Ceresola for Plumas County District 1 Supervisor.  I look forward to hearing from you, and please take the time to vote- Dwight Ceresola for District 1 Supervisor.

 

Name: Bill Powers

Bill Powers

Age:72

Occupation:Retired Teacher

Q. What do you see as your primary role as a Plumas County supervisor?

A. Since I’m running in District One, the “primaries” are twofold: First, I need to catch up with the lingering concerns and projects hanging since August of 2019 when Mike Sanchez found it necessary to resign due to ill health. Second, I will become part of the leadership team and add my experience, creativity, and talents to reach agreements to address all the complicated times ahead of us in 2021. COVID-19 will have had a profound impact on our economy, our schools, and our individual circumstances, and it will take our combined strong leadership to help get us moving forward again.

Q. Plumas County is in the process of adopting the 2020-2021 budget. How would you prioritize spending?

A. Budgeting at the county level takes comprehensive knowledge of where the revenues come from, what most of the money is earmarked for, and how to distribute the rest. Many of our departments like Transportation (Public Works), Public Health, etc. have monies that come from either the state or federal governments. Property taxes are collected and most go specifically to the needs of the community. The small percentage of discretionary revenue will be prioritized by need, not want. Reserves are as important to the budget process as the allocated spending. Often, in local as well as state and federal budgets, reserves can be used for unforetold emergencies, unexpected mandates, or to update or make more efficient entire systems. For example, if a department is operating at 79 percent efficiency within its allocated budget, combining revenues from all available sources, and a new computer system or new heavy equipment, or hiring more full-time employees is an upgrade, and the department head can convince either the administrative officer or the Supervisors directly that they could raise that 79 percent to 90 or 95 percent, then it’s up to the Board to determine whether or not to direct the funding there, as opposed to another department whose wants are less effective.

The county revenues are lean, with a population that is still shrinking so the tax base is diminished, and promised federal subsidized payments because of lost revenue due to COVID have been problematic.  But inflation continues to climb, so everything departments need to continue costs more. The only counter measure is to find new or increased sources of revenue.

Q. Public safety is a major topic nationally. What would you do to bolster public safety locally or are you content with it as is?

A. Plumas County is very fortunate to have a sheriff, district attorney, chief probation officer, two superior court judges, county administrator, and several others who already work together with strong interest in public safety. Their recommendations will have top credence with me.

My background working at the State level and being the representative for all California counties on the Corrections Standards Authority lets me understand the logic and difficulty of public safety funding. The decision by the State to send convicted felons back to their county of origin or to keep them there in the first place, has changed the dynamics of local funding. I’m very happy we are building a new jail and office facility, a move I advocated when I worked at the State level.

Q. Plumas County hired a county administrator. Do you think the relationship is working? Is there anything you would do to change the nature of the position?

A. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Gabriel Hydrick on only a couple of occasions, but I think he’s giving the County a very good return on their investment. If we look around the State, the counties with excellent administrative officers are the counties who are succeeding the best. That’s because those counties have invested in the position. Plumas County has fulfilled only part of that investment. The full administrative officers are the liaison between the department heads and the Board, as well as solidifying the relationships between other government agencies, non-government entities and new revenue sources in order to make logical and pragmatic recommendations on which the Supervisors will act. I will urge my fellow supervisors to reconstruct the position for the County’s benefit.

Q. We have been living with the threat of coronavirus since March. Do you believe there should be more or less (or the same amount) of enforcement locally concerning the Governor’s Covid-19 orders?

A. I hate to see the United States lag behind other countries of the world. Our county is part of the network of counties across the country, organized by the individual states, which provide the most stability to the whole. This network of counties in many ways is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows democracy to function in all the various ways a democracy can, without iron-fisted directives coming from stricter levels. But on the other hand, because counties are the most far-reaching extension of government directly formed by the state (cities, community and other services districts are formed when a local community decides it is in their best interest to incorporate or form), we need uniform direction in cases of pandemic, encompassing natural disasters, or war. Our nation seems to have split into factions of opinions, and because there have been inconsistent directives from the national level, our state level directives have been individualized against the common enemy of the virus, and subsequently those opinions have divided our attitudes toward the cautions our scientists and health officials have recommended. But we have to compare the response to the response we’re also facing at the moment: wildfire. What would happen on a fire response in your neighborhood if half the firefighters agreed to fight aggressively and put the fire out, but the other half of them decided not to?

Q. Coronavirus is changing the ways that candidates can campaign. How do you propose to get your message out? If you could share a message with your constituents using this forum what would it be?

A. Two parts to this last question:

CalTrans has added an imposition on candidates, requiring a permit to be on file in Sacramento before we can put signs up visible 500 feet from a state right-of-way. Of course we will all comply rather than be in violation of the regulation, but it further hinders getting the word out through door-to-door visits or group rallies and events. For me, I’ll get the word out by inviting folks to contact me on my website, bsuperpowers1.comand asking the questions that are most important to them where they live. I’ll give each the best and most honest answer I can. As soon as my permit is received in Sacramento, I’ll have yard and fence signs out. And I hope to talk to people, attend meetings either in person or via ZOOM when I can, and continue my work on the Portola City Council and a flurry of other commissions, committees and board serving the county.

Finally, I appreciate Debra Moore for providing this forum.  I think it’s a great way for the public to find out where each candidate stands and how they will act as supervisors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More News