Union Democrat reporter Eric Burkett recently sat down with each of the four candidates for the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors. Each candidate was asked questions about issues that have been raised during their individual campaigns.
These interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed directly from tape. The interviews with District 2 supervisorial candidates Paolo Maffei and Don Ratzlaff (the incumbent) were in Wednesday's edition. Interviews with District 3 supervisorial candidates Jerry Morrow and Jim Peterson are in today's edition.
Union Democrat: Specifically, what incentives should be offered to developers and businesses to come to, and operate in, Tuolumne County?
JERRY MORROW: What I want to see happen in the county is to get together with the Economic Development Company, Board of Supervisors, chamber (of commerce) and the business community.
There is clean industrial out there that can come into the county ... We're gonna have to spend a little money to advertise, to make sure the companies are aware what amenities that we have here. We can tell them, If you hire our local people and pay them a decent wage, that we'll give you tax breaks on the property' There are other incentives we can give them besides tax breaks.
That's a good part of it ... tax breaks alone, and to have the quality of life in this county, to live here and have their businesses here.
UD: In the April 19, 1994, The Union Democrat, you were quoted as saying "I don't want anybody in my back pocket like (then-District 3 Supervisor Ken) Marks has. When somebody gives you $500 or $1,000 and then wants a favor after you're elected, you're pretty obligated to do it. It's hard to turn them down."
In light of your recent contributions from Sierra Pacific Industries and Blue Mountain Minerals, how would you address that issue now?
JM: I enhance those people because they hire a great amount of people. (Blue Mountain Minerals) hires over some 200 people. SPI, they have a force of 200 to 400 people that they hire. They're making a difference in this county. They're hiring our local people and paying a good wage.
But as far as anybody being in my back pocket because they're giving me money, Jim Peterson has just about the same amount of money that I (have). But if you look closely at his campaign, Voters Choice has given him most of his funding and he denies that. But that's a true fact.
UD: From individual members of Voters Choice?
JM: Well, you know you can get a sense of who comes to those meetings. Eighty and 90 people, sometimes. And it's all Voters Choice. You can see all the badges on them. But you know if we have a conflict, what about the conflict for them, for no-growthers? I don't think there's much difference.
At least I'm enhancing the people that's given me money, that's providing jobs for residents. They train these people also. Darn right I'll take their money when they've hired people and have jobs. They're the top employers in this county.
UD: Your stance on growth seems to have changed in the past eight years. In 1994, you opposed Yosemite Estates and a proposed condominium development at Mountain Springs. You supported a slower pace of growth than outlined in 1994's proposed version of the General Plan. Has it changed?
JM: That's a false statement. That's something that Voters Choice has brought up. That's their words, not yours.
UD: Well, actually, no, that's from the article.
JM: If you look at that article closely, I opposed taking the land out of the Williamson Act. That's what they wanted to do.
They wanted to take the land out and pay the money back ... And I really want to make that absolutely clear. I never opposed the project. I opposed them taking it out of the Williamson Act. And the Board of Supervisors actually got sued over that.
The Sierra Club sued them. I was in the Taxpayers' (Association) at that time, and we never opposed Mountain Springs and what they were going to build. Only taking it out of the Williamson Act early.
UD: What about the pace of growth that was proposed in the version of the general plan that existed at that time?
JM: I was on the Blue Ribbon Growth Committee, and I have done that study, and as far as Mountain Springs was concerned, I thought it was a good development.
I think they had their wires crossed in that article. I only opposed taking it out of the Williamson Act. I made that clear at the Board of Supervisors that the development was fine ... So my stance hasn't changed. I still feel the same way as I did then. I wanted to see growth. When I ran against Ken Marks, we weren't that far off, there was a hair between us.
UD: You've been more specific about your work experience in previous elections what did you do before you retired? What is your educational background?
JM: I just am retired. Actually, I worked for the probation department several times for six years, part time. You know, I was in sales before that. ... I also did six years as a reserve for the (Alameda County) police department.
JM: High school.
UD: You've described yourself as being educated in government.
JM: Forty years I've basically been in government. Steady basis ... The city (of Pleasanton) appointed me (to the general plan review committee), I've been appointed as a commissioner of the (Alameda County Retirement Board) ... I've always felt I needed to give something back to the people. It's not an ego thing. I want to truly, truly help people. I'm a Mormon and we really enhance being involved in the community. I've always believed that all my life. And I've run a food program.
UD: You continue to accuse Peterson of being anti-growth. On what do you base those accusations?
JM: I base those accusations on Voters Choice, because he's a member of Voters Choice. Voters Choice, they're a no-growth organization.
I'm a past president of the Taxpayer's Association. I'm a board member now. We had (Voters Choice member Hope Slifert) in as a speaker.
I asked her three different times, "How many homes would you like to see at Mountain Springs?" She said "I can't give you that answer."
(Voters Choice is) saying they haven't got involved in Home Depot. They have been involved in Home Depot. They said the first time it was in the wrong place. Now they're saying, even before the (environmental impact report), it's the wrong place.
As far as Mr. Peterson is concerned, his affiliation with Voters Choice, he's got a great amount of money. Just look at his financial statements. Look what their advertising. They pay over $500 a crack. It's all been paid by Voters Choice.
He just had a fund raiser. We know that the majority of people there were Voters Choice, so it's pretty evident.
UD: How would you characterize this campaign?
JM: Jim Peterson and I have run a very good campaign. It's been honest, fair and forthright.
I went to Jason Reed (who ran against Morrow and Peterson in the March primary), and I got Jason Reed together with Mr. Peterson and said let's run a good campaign. Let's not throw mud, let's not be dirty. Let's treat each other with respect. And let's have fun. We've done that.
We talk about the issues. Maybe we've been a little fiery, but that's politics.
UD: How do you feel about (Board of Supervisors Chairwoman) Laurie Sylwester's endorsement of your opponent?
JM: Betrayed. When Laurie first ran for office, she asked if I would support her. I really wanted to hold my endorsement. But I went out and raised a lot of money for her, asked people to work for her, and you know, I'm very disappointed because she told me not the truth about her stance.
She told me what she wanted me to hear. Then, after eight months in office, she changed her stance as a no-growther. I like Laurie, but I feel that she never treated me too well.
UD: This is the second time you've run for this seat. If you don't win, will you try again?
JM: I've made a decision ... If I don't win, I'll never run again. I'm too old.
I've got three years left in the planning commission. I'll serve my three years. If they want me to serve another four, I'll look at it.
UD: What issues that have come before the Board of Supervisors over the past year would you have handled differently?
JM: I have not seen one thing that I would disagree.
The Board of Supervisors have done a fantastic job ... They've got five good board members that have done their job for the county.