What I'll Do For the County
How I Make Governing Decisions
My approach to governing is simple: listen thoroughly to all stakeholder input, research the issues carefully, and then consider what is in the best interests of the community.
You, the voters, deserve to know how candidates will vote or are likely to vote BEFORE we are elected. Below are my positions on the key issues currently facing District 5:
1. Transparency, Accountability and Public Engagement
In order to accomplish the big challenges that face Monterey County, we need to change the culture of the County to make it more transparent, accountable, and more engaged with the public. If elected to be District 5 Supervisor, one thing I will do immediately is ask county staff to create a robust public outreach program. Another obstacle to public participation is the time of the county meetings: 9 a.m. on a working day. Almost every city and school district board in the county meets in late afternoon or early evening. We must adjust the meeting time to be accessible to working people so that the board hears from regular folks instead of the wealthy, special interests. Transparency means that all public documents are easily accessible to the public. Recently, the public found out that the County Jail failed its accreditation report, but neither the board nor the public was informed. All reports and documents should be easily searchable on the county website and should be posted in a timely manner, including the minutes of county board meetings. Finally, I will advocate for a robust and community-engaged evaluation process for the Board of Supervisors and the County Executive. The county board and senior management need to hear from the public on where we are doing well and where we need to improve. We need to survey the public and give them a role in the evaluation process. Again, it is critical that the public plays a large role in establishing goals and setting priorities for the County Board and staff. If we want to make progress on the big issues like water, housing and transportation, we must change how the county does business.
2. Water Now and For the Future
For years our community has been hampered by lack of water, and this water scarcity has compromised our economic opportunities and quality of life. We must adequately address the water supply problem and we must solve it now. The first task is to remove the state imposed Cease and Desist Order (CDO), which forbids us from installing new water meters and caps our water use, which we can accomplish by expanding the sustainable water reclamation projects at Monterey One. If it turns out that water recycling alone is insufficient and we need additional water supply, I will support a supplemental desalination project. If the desalination facility is built in Marina, there needs to be some direct benefit to the people who live there. Outsourcing our water supply to another community exacerbates the divisions in Monterey County and makes it harder for us to work together on regional solutions that benefit us all. My core value is that government policies should be based on mutual benefit and cooperation.
3. Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety
Public safety is one of the fundamental responsibilities of local government. The risk of fires, storms, and sea level rise threaten our homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. Fire danger continues to grow and home owners are finding it more difficult to insure their homes; this is not acceptable. As your Supervisor, I will direct staff to update our emergency preparedness plan to account for these emerging threats. We must make it easier for property owners to Moreover, I will ensure that we plan for the future and build up reserve funds so that we will have the money we need to address emergencies. If there is a devastating fire, flood, or storm event, the federal and state governments may help, but our residents and businesses will need immediate assistance and that takes reserve funds. In the city of Monterey, I supported creating special reserve funds for emergencies, infrastructure, and pensions and I will do the same for Monterey County. Rural parts of Monterey County are in need of more Deputy Sheriffs to patrol and respond to emergencies, but the Sheriff has been unable to fully staff those needs because of a legal settlement. I will advocate for fully funding the Sheriff’s needs so that we can lift those legal restrictions and enable the Sheriff more flexibility to respond to staffing needs. This will lead to a better community response for public safety across the county and District 5.
The high cost of housing, which makes it so challenging for service and essential workers to live among us, is a direct result of the lack of housing supply. We can reduce traffic on our highways by building housing near the jobs. And there is the added benefit of revitalizing business districts, so people will be able to walk to nearby businesses. We need all types of housing, but above all, we need housing for essential workers–those who kept our economy going through the Covid lockdown and continue to provide care services to county residents. The city of Monterey is finding it challenging to hire key public safety personnel because of the high cost of living, as are school districts. If we force these essential workers to live in South County, or North County and commute, then we can expect the congestion on Highway 68 and Highway 1 to get worse. Building housing that is affordable for our workforce, closer to where they work, is the right thing to do.
5. Vacation Rentals
Vacation rentals have exploded over the past decade, offering opportunities for homeowners to make extra money and offering new alternatives for travelers, but also creating challenges for neighborhoods. To date, the county has failed to address the housing issue with a comprehensive policy. The result is that property owners don’t know the rules and don’t know how to make decisions about the future, so vacation rentals continue to be managed in a confused and haphazard way. I will provide strong leadership that addresses all stakeholder concerns. One potential solution is to limit vacation rentals to hosted properties–where the owner is on-site to manage guest stays and ensure that parties don’t get out of hand, parking is managed, and the community is kept clean and safe. This also ensures that our housing supply is not impacted because the host still lives on the property. We should identify a reasonable number of vacation rental permits and provide a density cap–so that no neighborhood becomes overwhelmed and loses its identity. Finally, we should give priority to vacation rental owners who have been paying taxes in the past and trying to play by the rules; they should be the first to get permits to continue to rent out parts of their property.
6. Transportation, Roads, and Infrastructure
Because we lack housing where the jobs are, too many Monterey County residents commute long distances, creating gridlock on our highways and increasing pollution. The Transportation Agency of Monterey County has good plans to improve traffic conditions on Highway 68, 1, and 156. I fully support implementation of these recommendations. The county’s own measure of road quality shows that our roads are in serious disrepair. When I was elected to Monterey City Council, the city’s roads were in similarly bad condition after decades of neglect, but due to my leadership the quality of Monterey city streets has improved from at-risk to very good. The County Board of Supervisors needs to make road condition a priority; the longer we delay road improvements, the more costly and time-consuming the repairs will be. Long term planning for infrastructure like roads and bridges is a public safety matter and demands more attention.
7. Veterans Issues
Monterey is home to several military installations and a large active duty and veteran population. We must ensure that veterans get the care they need and deserve. I will be a strong and outspoken advocate for the Fort Ord Veterans Cemetery, the outpatient clinic, Stand Down events, the Veterans Transition Center, and construction of a new veteran retirement home on the peninsula.