Candidates debate wide range of issues

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By JOSHUA WOLFSON

Growth, housing and traffic issues were debated when the seven Tuolumne County supervisorial candidates gathered yesterday at a Columbia College forum.

During the two-hour event, sponsored by the Associated Students of Columbia College, candidates tackled questions both from a moderator and the more than 50 people in attendance.

Three seats on the Board of Supervisors are available in the March 2 election.

Moderator Tom Johnson, a college history and political science professor, asked the candidates their stances on growth in Tuolumne County. Although Johnson encouraged the candidates to distinguish themselves as being either pro- or anti-growth, most avoided doing so.

"I object to labels," said District 5 Supervisor Dick Pland. "We look at (developments) one at a time, case by case."

Pland's District 5 opponent, inventor Ken Young, said decisions on growth are a balance between the county's pristine nature and the economic benefits. Growth means jobs, he said.

"It would be desirable to bring in businesses that could increase the amount of money up here," he said.

Sharlene Winn Reed, who is challenging Supervisor Mark Thornton for the District 4 seat, said she supports managed growth.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not going to close the gate," said Reed, who leads the county's Williamson Act ad hoc committee.

Growth decisions need to be made with the next several decades in mind, said Thornton.

"We have to be very careful of how we approach economic growth," he said.

Only District 1 Supervisor Larry Rotelli opted to label himself in the growth debate.

"I guess I'll have to be pro-growth," he said.

Several candidates said they would likely support Mountain Springs, the controversial 897-home development planned for land off Lime Kiln Road, when it reaches the Board of Supervisors. Developers submitted plans for the nearly 1,100-acre project to the county in December.

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