Q&A with the District 2 candidates for Plumas County Supervisor

Kevin Goss and Mike Grant are the two candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot vying to represent District 2 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, Goss, the incumbent supervisor, received the most votes for 43.61 percent of the four-way race. Grant, who works for the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, took 25.96 percent of the vote. The two other candidates — Phil Shannon and Greg Cameron — 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: Kevin B. Goss

 Age: 49

Occupation: Pharmacy Manager, Plumas County Supervisor District 2

 

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

A. Well, this is a loaded question. Supervisors wear many different hats especially in a county of our size. First and foremost you are elected to represent the constituents of your district and of Plumas County as a whole. As a leader of multiple communities, it is important to never forget who you represent and to ensure you have their best interest at the forefront of your decisions. Hand in hand with that, supervisors are elected to set policies for the county to help reach our future goals as a community. Up until recently Supervisors in Plumas county were running day to day operations which was not optimal but was essential until we could hire a county administrator.

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

A. Plumas County’s 20/21 budget process has been challenging to say the least. We didn’t expect to see as big of a hit from the COVID19 pandemic as I thought we would, but with that being said we are working to strategize how to overcome the unpredictable circumstances. In order to prioritize spending, we did ask local departments to identify places where five to ten percent of cuts could be made. Budget cuts are not ideal but to ensure the overall safety of Plumas County as a whole, we plan to keep public safety as a top priority (in every budget throughout the years and for this year’s budget), it will be no different. However our budget this year looks good but what I’m concerned about is the 21/22 budget year and if we don’t start taking steps to lessen the impact we could be in a real fiscal pickle. We must always look toward the future making sure we are financially stable for when circumstances such as an unexpected epidemic hits our nation and affect our local small businesses.

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. Public safety is a major topic nationally; here in Plumas County the impact hasn’t been as hard as we face different crime compared to a large city, but we have other challenges that are presented in a small rural county. Back in November, we appointed Todd Johns to fill the vacancy that was left when Sheriff Hagwood retired. Since then, Sheriff Johns has been met with several challenges such as COVID19 and an unrelenting wildfire season, and he has exceptionally met those challenges.

As far as bolstering public safety, first off I will support Sheriff John’s plan to reorganize the department to make a sustainable path for young up and coming deputies to have the ability to grow within their career and move up the ladder. John’s plan also makes the department more nimble by providing deputies with the ability to cover shifts for each other which generally will help reduce overtime as much as possible. Secondly, our new jail will be built soon and that will be a game-changer in so many aspects of safety. We will be able to have a new facility that can gain us some efficiency of scale while being able to provide behavioral health, medical, and counseling services in a much safer and secure environment.

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. Our relationship with our county administrator is positive, Gabriel has excelled at all things that have come his way. Some have questioned that we have held him back in some way or form which isn’t the case at all… After one of our primary forums, it was brought up so I went back to Gabriel and asked him if he felt if we were hindering or impeding his ability to do his job and his answer was no. We plan to keep utilizing him and his strengths as time progresses. Also, it is important to realize that Plumas county has been without one for quite some time so it’s taken a little time to get used to having someone help do the lifting. At this point, I wouldn’t change the position at all.

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. Corona Virus here in Plumas County (knock on wood) has been very minimal as far as cases are concerned, but I believe it has had a significant effect on our county economically. Our Public Health Department has done an outstanding job providing updates and information to the community as well as utilizing contact tracing when a case comes about.

As for our sheriff, Johns has done an excellent job in his position with not being too heavy-handed, realizing that families, small and larger businesses financially still need a sense of income in an already depressed economy. Concerning Governor Newsom’s orders, I think our enforcement was and still is par for the number of cases that we are seeing. COVID19 was and still is a very unprecedented event that took most of the world by surprise, but here in Plumas County, I believe as a whole we have handled it well within the Public Health, Environmental Health, County Sheriff, and our entire task force.

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.Well, coronavirus is changing a lot of ways we go about life, to say the least. Especially the campaigning being one. With the measures in place, I plan on utilizing as many resources as possible. I will push my message out through the normal means of signage around the district coupled with a heavy presence on social media and virtual town hall. Implementing these strategies will allow me to engage with the community virtually while making a positive impact in the district. Not only does COVID19 play a factor in inhibiting the way we can campaign, but wildfires have also taken control over our ability to communicate our message, as well throwing an extra monkey wrench into the mix.

The message I plan to share with our constituents is that together with unity and hard work we will ultimately push through the unpredictable year of 2020 and emerge stronger through all the lessons learned. In the best interest of Plumas County, our district needs a steady experienced hand on the rudder ready to navigate the waters coming next year with more possible budget shortfalls.

 

Name: Michael Grant

Mike Grant

Age: 58

Occupation:  Peace Officer

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

 A. The textbook answer would be to provide administrative and legislative functions for the County. My primary approach to being a County Supervisor would be to stay connected to the communities I serve to make sure the decisions made reflect their wishes while completing the required functions of the position.

I have heard time and again how people in District 2 feel left out of the County process because of a lack of access to the incumbent and also, they feel slighted by promises to support certain topics only to find out the actual vote went against those promises.

I believe my primary role as a county supervisor should be to make the best decisions possible and to always seek constituents input on major or controversial decisions. It is really the only way the job should be done.

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

 A. The unprecedented events that we have experienced this year will make budget decisions especially challenging. Budget cuts are inevitable that is clear, determining where they come from will be a difficult job and needs to have a balanced approach. In past years, much like this year, the County requests each department to provide budgets that reflect a percentage reduction from the previous year.

It has been my experience that how those reductions are implemented is the responsibility of the department heads and very little follow up work is done to see if those decisions were as effective as possible. It always seems that once a budget is passed, the job is largely done for the BOS and there is very little looking back or making sure the adopted budget is meeting the needs, to the extent possible, of the people.

I have been involved in a number of budgetary issues regarding the impacts of Covid-19. I can tell you our BOS was painfully aware of the impact to the County’s budget for this fiscal year all the way back in early April. Knowing significant cuts would be forthcoming, the work of the BOS should have started long ago to balance the budget.

If I was member of the BOS then I would have, no later than May, tasked department heads with evaluating projected cuts and how they will affect the public as a whole going through the new budget year. This would have provided a picture larger than just dollars and cents to help prioritize spending with more public input allowing for the best decisions possible. It would also have allowed for more transparency in the process.

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. Public safety has been taking significant fiscal cuts for years to make up for shortfalls in the County’s budgets. The results have been a loss of, or delays in getting, public safety services. It seems a virtual certainty that the budget cuts this year due to Covid-19 will cause a further loss of those public safety services.

Our local public safety issues are different than those we have seen happening in large cities. Thankfully we do not have the civil unrest and rioting that is becoming all too common place. With that said crime has been rising which can be attributed to cuts in law enforcement and criminal justice reform.

Our local fire departments, which are largely volunteer, are having problems with recruiting and retaining firefighters, which is having an effect on the services they provide. Our emergency medical system is seeing more calls which significantly taxes their resources and response times.

All of these issues have affected the public as a whole and each needs a different solution. I would like to see better public safety services throughout the county, but in the near term I am almost certain there will be cuts to law enforcement brought on by the budget shortfalls caused by the actions taken for Covid-19. This will require a multi-year plan to correct. Fire departments need help with recruiting and retaining volunteers. While they have tried valiantly over the last few years to fix these issues, they still need help. I think the BOS should be a strong supporter of those efforts and take a more active role in finding a solution.

 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 have worked with the County Administrator (CA) at times since his hire and I have been impressed with his ability to clearly understand issues and come up with common sense solutions. With that I believe he has a lot more to offer the County if he would just be given the authority the position deserves. Unfortunately, his role seems to be largely as an advisor to the BOS and nothing like previous people who held the similar position of County Administrative Officer. I believe for numerous reasons this makes for a less than optimum working relationship.

Six months ago, during the forums for the District 2 Supervisor candidates, Supervisor Goss echoed much of what I said here and during those events in regards to the CA position, he also said that the CA’s job responsibilities would be changing soon. Half a year later and we are in the same place, we have a very capable person that is being held back in what I believe is to the detriment of the County, especially from a fiscal perspective which is something that is of the utmost importance. His current role needs to be expanded to the job responsibilities of the County Administrative Officer, or something very similar, and then he needs to be allowed to move forward with those duties.

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. Having owned a private business for many years, I certainly have a deep appreciation for the hardships businesses have been subject to with the Covid-19 restrictions imposed on them. I am also very aware that Covid-19 can be deadly to some people.  Listening to State officials regarding Covid-19, the counties have a specific responsibility to enforce state laws and policy and some feel that is absolute. I believe it is the county’s responsibility to come up with a reasonable application of public policies and state law.

California is so diverse there will never be a “one size fits all” solution to statewide problems. With Covid-19, I believe it is incumbent on each County’s respective leadership to look at the total impact to their county and come up with an enforcement plan that protects its residents and is also mindful of the economic consequences of those decisions on local businesses.

During this pandemic, those County decisions have largely come from elected and appointed county officials and not our Board of Supervisors. With that said, I believe the current level of enforcement is sufficient, and supported by the numbers of cases reported in Plumas County, to stem the spread of Covid-19 locally.

 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. Instead of the planned door to door campaign, we have been holding meetings with small groups of voters to discuss my positions and learn more about their concerns. This has been effective and very well received. In addition, we will be following up with a mail campaign to help people understand my positions and to help make myself available should anyone want to discuss issues further in person, electronically or by phone.

During my campaign efforts earlier this year I spoke with close to 700 voters.  The two most significant concerns mentioned were problems with fire insurance cancellations and/or dramatic increases in rates and then poor internet services. Since the primary election, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to frame solutions for both of these problems. I have spoken to fire officials, insurance companies and governmental representatives. All agree something needs to happen, but no single group seems to be able to push an effective agenda forward.

Efforts must be started by the county to make our communities more fire resilient.  Large parts of our future could depend on it. CalFire has developed numerous plans which are being implemented in other jurisdictions that could also be a solution for Plumas County. This will require working with the forest service, local resources and private industry to collectively come up with a plan that works for the citizens of Plumas County.

Internet access throughout most of the County is tenuous at best.  While some areas have seen great solutions, most of the County lags far behind. Of particular concern are Indian Valley, Greenhorn and the Feather River Canyon. Each of these areas are vastly underserved with little on the horizon to resolve the problem. My work in the communications field on behalf of the County has led to many contacts in the industry who all would like to provide solutions. Wireless phone carriers’ networks have rapidly expanded largely because of the need for broadband (internet) connections. These companies are all looking for new sites and opportunities. The County has, thus far, failed to help facilitate this process. This needs to change to help bring better overall broadband coverage, especially to underserved areas, and thus a competitive environment to keep costs down. This should be a win-win situation, but has yet to find someone to champion the effort, which is something I will make sure moves forward when elected.

More information on my positions can be found on my website www.michaelgrant.orgor my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MikeGrantSupervisor

 

 

 

 

 

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