The Case for New Leadership in Shasta County

Voting is about making a decision. These decisions are often difficult to make because we are all busy, we often have 20-some decisions to make on a single ballot, and it’s hard to find concise summaries of what candidates actually think and will do.

To help with this, I’ll share “The Case for New Leadership” today. The case for new leadership is the reason I’m running.

 

The incumbent has had almost 12 years in office to benefit our community. Here are 12 results:

  1. Homelessness has skyrocketed: When the incumbent joined the Redding City Council in 2007, there were ~300 homeless in Shasta County. As of last January, there were over 1,000. Under the incumbent’s leadership, the County pulled out of its lead role in the regional group that addresses homelessness, forcing the City of Redding to jump in at the last minute to ensure our community still obtained federal funding.
  2. Criminals are being released on our streets: We’ve needed a new jail for years. Instead of making measurable progress on building a new one, a third of the existing jail remained closed for over a year, resulting in 100+ people with felony convictions ending up homeless on our streets. Though it will almost certainly face legal backlash from the City of Redding, the incumbent has pushed for a new jail building in downtown Redding, ignoring the sheriff’s, residents’, and the City of Redding’s opinions.
  3. Shasta County scores among the worst in the state on key measures: We have the highest suicide rate in the state. Our roads are 7th worst. Our babies are 7x more likely to be born with drug withdrawal effects. Our kids experience trauma is 2.5 times more frequently than the average kid in California.
  4. County government has grown massively: In the last 5 years, the county budget has grown from ~$500M to ~$660M, increasing by 33%. Last year, the incumbent approved a 4.8% increase in spending and the largest increase in personnel in 3 years and 2nd largest in 9 years without recommending any changes. Just this week, the incumbent voted to add a new position to county leadership making $175,000/year.
  5. We have experienced greater state intervention: The incumbent’s aggressive approach to dealing with the state of California has resulted in more state intervention, not less. Sacramento is writing bills explicitly to overturn our actions and sending election officials to observe our elections.
  6. The incumbent has enabled an East Coast millionaire to sway our elections: Before 2020, winning county supervisor candidates often raised just $20,000-$30,000. But when the incumbent ran in 2020, a Connecticut-based millionaire gave him over $100,000 with the explicit purpose of taking revenge on the county. To date, this donor has contributed over $1M to the incumbent and other candidates the incumbent supports.
  7. Over 25 key county leaders have left in ~1.5 years: 27 county leaders, including CEOs, department heads, and branch directors, have left since April 2021, creating serious backlogs in work, delays in service, and delays in payments to important local partners. These leadership departures also have hurt morale, leading to more departures in their departments as well. As a result, the incumbent has had to lower hiring standards to fill positions.
  8. The incumbent has rewarded his hires with lavish compensation while snubbing our lowest-paid workers: The incumbent voted in December to give the County CEO, David Rickert, a 5% pay increase 6 months before his performance was scheduled to be reviewed and only 6 months after he was hired. This came roughly a month after the Board discussed giving themselves a 65% pay raise – which the Board ultimately rejected with each Board member denying a role in putting the raise on the agenda. However, soon after, the incumbent voted to offer unprecedented 18-month severance packages to the County CEO, new County Counsel, and the new Public Health Officer. In contrast, the largest union of county employees went on a 2-week strike in the spring because the Board refused to give them more than a 2.5% pay increase. This difference may be part of the reason 2 of the largest county employee unions – UPEC and SEIU – have endorsed me.
  9. The incumbent is working to give the Board more power rather than spreading power to the people and other elected officials: History shows us that the more governmental power is concentrated in a single office, the further we move away from a constitutional republic and the easier it is to shrink our freedoms. The incumbent put forth a 2nd amendment resolution that would have allowed the Board to determine the constitutionality of state and federal gun laws. The incumbent is promoting a charter county resolution that would let the Board fill vacancies on the Board rather than allowing the people to do so. The incumbent created an elections commission that reports to the Board to wrest authority away from our county registrar of voters.
  10. The incumbent rushed into a 30-year deal with the Redding Rancheria Tribe without the support of key county leaders: When the Tribe presented a 30-year agreement for the rates it would pay the County to provide law enforcement and fire services at its new casino, the Sheriff, Fire Chief, and District Attorney all said they had only seen it days earlier and couldn’t support the proposed rates because they would cause the county to lose money. Rather than inviting these county leaders to inform the rates, the incumbent waived the county’s right to have its attorneys review the agreement and entered into it that day. Months later, the Tribe gave the maximum contribution to his campaign and opened their properties for his campaign signs.
  11. The incumbent pushed through his own gun range project as Board Chair: After criticizing past supervisors for allegedly using their office to benefit themselves, the incumbent promoted a personal project that stands to benefit him greatly while the most senior leader of the county. Now the county is being sued for approving his project.
  12. The incumbent has accused the county of rigging the last few decades of elections without saying who is rigging them or how: Despite winning 3 elections in Shasta County, the incumbent has made very serious accusations on national TV that have created major divisions within Shasta County and cost the county a significant amount in staff time spent responding to these accusations. Now, a year later, the incumbent still hasn’t said who stole the elections and how each election was stolen.

Yesterday, I talked to a couple who had moved here to escape the decline and politics of the Bay Area only to worry that Shasta County was on the same path. I also spoke to a medical professional who is looking for jobs in Oregon because of the growing homelessness problem.

I asked them to hold on, that new leadership with a focus on delivering a real benefit to the community could be coming.

Shasta County can be the best and freest place in California, but we need new leadership to get there.