Running for citizen in Douglas County
Thirty-two years ago in 1984, I was hired by the Douglas County commission to be the first fire chief of the newly formed East Fork Fire Protection District. The commission at that time was Chairman Ken Kjer, a real estate broker at Lake Tahoe; Herb Witt the owner of Milky Way Farms Dairy in the Carson Valley; “Doc” Meyer a retired successful businessman living at Topaz; Bob Oswald an visionary and the inventor of the horse race photo finish living at Lake Tahoe with his office and shop in the Carson Valley and Carson Valley resident Barbara Cook. The county manager at the time was Bob Hadfield. Their major concerns at that time were; maintaining the quality of life and rural atmosphere of Douglas County, encouraging tourism at Lake Tahoe, encouraging a sustainable business environment in the Carson Valley, managing growth in the Carson Valley, stopping unfunded mandates from the State, funding road maintenance and developing a county master plan. As fire chief I attended well over 90 percent of the county meetings and workshops for 15 years. I had the privilege of getting to know and work with each and every commissioner as an individual and every commission as a body. Let me share with you some observations:
With no exception, each board and each commissioner over that span of years were there because they believed in Douglas County and were willing to work to preserve it and make it a better place to live. I believe that has persisted up to and including our current commission.
Each commissioner has a different back ground, set of values and beliefs on how to accomplish their mutual vision of Douglas County. Each commission, as a body, has a different set of values and beliefs on how to do that.
In the overall scope of things, they all wanted the same thing for Douglas County. Their differences were only how to do it.
The synergy of all those commissioners over the years has resulted in an incredible place to live, work and play.
As we move forward towards a rather contentious election for new commissioners I suggest we look forward to what we can do for Douglas County to achieve our mutual goals which are much the same now as they were 32 years ago. We need to stop criticizing Commissions and commissioners of the past. It serves no useful purpose. They did their best and have done an exceptional job.
If we want Douglas County to continue to be an exceptional place to live, work and play we need to understand that it will cost money. In order to attract quality business, we need to invest in excellence. Including but certainly not limited to law enforcement, fire-paramedics, availability of medical services, reasonable and reliable utilities, parks, recreation, education and much more. We need to recruit quality competent county employees and reward them with fair and competitive compensation packages and treat them with respect knowing they are doing their best. Otherwise we become a mere training ground. We need a constituency that is willing to work together. The commissioners, the county staff and employees are not the enemy as it seems some appear to view them.
As a real estate professional I know why people move here. It is really simple. Quality of life. If we are going to maintain and improve the quality of life here in Douglas County, we have to be willing to accept that, pay the price and move on.
There are those who believe any tax increase or bond rollover must be put before a vote of the people. If that is the case, why do we need a commission? We need to give the commission, who we elect, our confidence and the latitude to develop and manage county policy. We need to let the staff implement the policy without interference.
It is my observation that we now have a group of people in the County that I call the CAVE people. Citizens Against Virtually Everything, an acronym coined by someone much more creative than me. They rally to a cause to irrationally oppose anything they personally dislike. Often they voice their opinion on emotion totally ignoring fact or what is best for Douglas County.
They are disruptive, rude and will go to any extreme to get their way. The CAVE people are totally counterproductive. Perhaps this is a sign of the times. Unfortunately, we now see CAVE people at every level, federal, state and local.
If we want to maintain and improve the excellence of our community, we need a constituency of intelligent people making good decisions based on fact focused on a defined outcome.
Please learn the facts on all the candidates. Meet and talk to them so you know them and so you are not voting for merely a name on the ballot. Educate yourself on all the issues on the ballot. Issues are complicated and far reaching. Please don’t fall into the trap of voting based on rumor conjecture. It may sound like I am running for office. I am. I am running for the position of being a responsible citizen in Douglas County. I love Douglas County and the people who live here.