Calaveras Board of Supervisors: Randall, Wright in costliest race

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat /

With no incumbent in the mix, the race for Calaveras County Board of Supervisors District 2 has attracted the most money among three seats open this election season and the two remaining candidates have sharp ideological differences.

Chris Wright, of Rail Road Flat, the former executive director of the nonprofit Foothill Conservancy, has not been shy about his desire to largely continue the policies of two-term Supervisor Steve Wilensky, who has endorsed him.

Wilensky chose to retire after securing more than 70 percent of the vote in his 2008 re-election bid and said he made his announcement last year to allow plenty of time for a broad base of candidates to develop.

From a field of four, Wright emerged as the top vote-getter in the tightest race of the three June 5 primaries countywide, with Randall also advancing to the Nov. 6 general election.

Former Calaveras County Supervisor Michael Dell'Ortofinished third with a considerable 22.2 percent of the vote and quickly lent Randall his endorsement when it became clear his campaign had ended.

Randall bought land in West Point 12 years ago and moved there full-time three years ago.

He previously worked as a computer chip developer and now owns and operates the West Point General Store.

He has championed reduced government regulation to boost the county's lackluster economy. He has cited the travails of developer Castle and Cooke in seeking approval for its 800-home Sawmill Lake proposal in Copperopolis as a prime example of an unnecessary hold-up.

"They have spent $6 million doing everything the county has asked them to do with their studies and everything," Randall said at a Sept. 26 Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in Mokelumne Hill. "It's time to let this company come in … and start creating jobs."

Wright responded that as a practical matter, the county must tread carefully with the threat of litigation based on environmental concerns weighing heavily on the project, which has spent six years in the county planning process.

He proudly points to the success Foothill Conservancy had in stopping an East Bay Municipal Utility District plan to expand Pardee Reservoir on the Mokelumne River.

Wright also supports the trial run of commercial rafting on the river's Electra-Middle Bar run straddling Calaveras and Amador counties and a future federal designation of sections of the river as "wild and scenic."

Randall said such a designation is too restrictive and could reduce economic opportunities on the river.

Wright touts a "triple bottom line" of a strong economy, healthy environment and thriving community.

Randall said the triple bottom line concept originates from United Nations Agenda 21, a global sustainability initiative which he considers "socialist" and a threat to private property rights.

Despite the obvious divide between the candidates, they came together and worked alongside one another during the recent remodel of Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill for an upcoming Travel Channel appearance.

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The Union Democrat
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