A Q&A With 4th District Supes Candidate Dan Gjerde
by Mark Scaramella, September 29, 2011
Why do you want to be Supervisor?
I want to see a fresh approach to old problems.
For example, I want to see the County do a better job of preserving its roads. One way to do this is by following Fort Bragg’s lead and use cost-effective technologies like rubberized chip seals. Not only would this allow the County to resurface more roads, but it also diverts thousands of tires from landfills. Oh, and the County would receive grants just for doing the right thing.
I want the County to be seen as a resourceful, dynamic organization. I'm hopeful the County can do this by operating a little bit more like the City of Fort Bragg. In the future the County will be able to do more of its high-priority work, because that work will be financed with state, federal and other grants.
What is your opinion of the Supervisors' current salary/benefits? ($68 generous perks & travel stipend).
When the management of an organization asks employees to make a sacrifice, management should be the first to take a pay cut. I support the action by Supervisors Brown, McCowen, Pinches and Hamburg to take a 10% pay cut, and would do the same. I’m not yet familiar with benefits awarded to management, but can already see ways to reduce County costs. For example, out-of-county travel reimbursements could be capped so no supervisor could receive more than one-fifth of that budget line-item. If they did this, you could be pretty certain that each year the supervisors would operate below budget on that line-item.
What do you think of Ms. Smith's tenure as Supervisor? Would you have run if Ms. Smith hadn't withdrawn?
For a bunch of reasons, I didn’t believe Kendall would run again. And, in fact, she’s now announced that she is not running.
So when people kept asking if I was going to run, I was always upfront and direct: yes.
What’s your view of the County’s SEIU negotiations?
The last thing the County needs right now is a candidate, like me, saying something that could push both parties away from each other. The employees and the boardmembers are probably feeling pretty stressed and tired and unappreciated and misunderstood now. At one point, it sounded like everyone was willing to approve a 36-hour, full-time work week as the primary means to achieve a 10% reduction in costs. I hope they can do this, and work through the last remaining small points.
What is your opinion of the current state of marijuana regulation in the County?
The zip-tie program seems to be working. If the enrolled residents are generating complaints to the sheriff’s office, I haven’t heard it. Along these same lines, I think the Board of Supervisors should adopt helpful guidelines for the location and operation of medical marijuana facilities. The Fort Bragg City Council already adopted guidelines that work in the context of our city.
What do you think about the status of the County's pension fund and the long-term, increasing, structural deficit it is causing?
Everyone in our County should be concerned about the long-term sustainability of the pension fund. In fact, some of the people most concerned are County employees. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the people who shined a light on the work of the County Pension Board, which also includes some of the current board members. That said, the County Pension Board needs to do significant community outreach, and explain its long-term sustainability plan. What’s the plan? Is it affordable?
What is your opinion of the Sheriff's budget and present level of funding? Do you think that, because it (Patrol/Jail) represents about 40% of the General Fund and other smaller General Fund depts have already been cut, the SO should take any more serious cuts?
You know, here in Fort Bragg I don’t believe we have ever judged a department by looking at the share of the general fund budget that goes to any particular department. Instead, we look at funding the most important functions within each department. When you work together, you find that most departments can fund at least a portion of their highest-priority activities from outside funds, like grants.
Do you think County staff is providing adequate monthly management and status reports to the Board?
Information is provided to the Board. But it’s not effectively reaching the public. It’s not even reaching all of the County employees. In Fort Bragg, we have a City Notes e-letter edited, and largely written, by City Manager Linda Rufing. It has concise reports on the work of all of the city departments, and it’s posted on fortbragg.com and emailed to all of the City employees. It’s also published in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News. I’d like to see a comparable County Notes offered to the local papers, and made easily accessible on the County web site. It should also be emailed to all of the County employees. With more information, County employees will be in a better position to work with staff outside of their own department or work unit.
Is the County doing enough to buy local?
I would like the board to ask staff to scale construction projects in a way that allows local contractors to bid on the work. For example, instead of circulating one project with an estimated price tag of $1.3 million, it may sometimes be possible to break the work into three separate bid packages. As long as the three projects were bid at the same time, but none of the packages exceeded $500,000, the County could receive bids from big construction companies as well as small, local contractors. Here’s why. Many local contractors can only bid on projects of less than $500,000. Their bonding, however, allows them to build multiple construction projects at the same time, as long as each project costs less than $500,000. So this is a way to invite low bids from large companies while still allowing local businesses to compete for the work.
What specific changes to the way the County or Board operates would you like to make if you're elected?
I'd like to see the supervisors questions some assumptions, and they often do this.
However, when the Board is asked to appoint someone to a state or federal board, rather than appointing a boardmember, as they almost always do, I think it can often be preferable to appoint a member of the public. Board members can become less productive if they are dashing out of county several times every month. Another advantage to appointing members of the public, when possible, is that supervisors could build partnerships with members of the public and their community-based groups.
What specific projects or problems are at the top of your priority list for Supervisorial attention? Are there any specific "coastal" issues you'd like to see the Board give more attention to?
I’m going to skip past the easy ones and name a challenging issue: the need for responsive control and care of lost and abandoned animals on the Coast.