Name: Mike Oliveira

Occupation: Incumbent 3rd District supervisor

What is your favorite smartphone app?: “DragonSpeak. It’s an app that you can voice document responses to scheduling, word processing, internet inquiries. It’s a voice-to-text computer program. I use it extensively in accident reconstruction as a consultant for insurance companies and lawyers. It’s very time efficient.”

What are you reading?: “I have been reading the Calaveras County General Plan Revision for the past two years. I’ve been working on it. It’s only about two to three inches thick and it’s a work in progress. We’re still working on it. We haven’t been able to update it for the past 20 years.”

Who is a leader you admire?: “John F. Kennedy believe it or not. I remember when he was assassinated when I was a youngster and I’ve done a lot of research about when he was president. He did a job that no other president could do in such a short time. He brought the country together. I wish we had that capability today.”

Name: Merita Callaway

Occupation: Community Volunteer

What’s your favorite smartphone app?: “Podcasts because they have great stories that you can listen to. Planet Money, Ted Radio Hour, an NPR podcast. There’s always fun stuff, like how does epilepsy work? I especially like when I’m driving, listening to any of the podcasts.”

What are you reading?: “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History” by Katy Tur

“She wrote a book about the campaign trail she went on with Donald Trump from 2015 to November 2016. She was with him, everywhere he went, she followed him. So she just talks about all the things that went on, what he said, who was with him, all his twittering he went on, and part of it was how he treated her.”

Who is a leader you admire?: “There are several leaders I have admired over the years, like Bella Abzug, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Gandhi. I couldn’t say there’s one I admire more than others. As you go through time, history moves and sometimes the leader comes to the forefront and you admire them and time moves on and you admire somebody else. I could not give you one person.”

The battle for District 3 in Calaveras County features a veteran former supervisor, Merita Callaway, hoping to unseat the incumbent, Mike Oliveira.

Like other campaign hopefuls up and down this county of about 45,000 people, they have concerns about transportation, fixing aging roads and other infrastructure, growth, affordable housing, schools and the county’s future.

As Election Day approaches, each candidate has criticized the other over campaign financing.

On Wednesday, Callaway presented copies of two 460 forms filed by Oliveira’s campaign, and other paperwork, claiming it shows Oliveira had a conflict of interest when he voted in June to approve a 4.23 percent increase for Cal-Waste, also known as California Waste Recovery Systems.

Callaway said it was a conflict of interest because the 460 forms show Oliveira received $6,500 from a contributor called Good Earth Farms, under the direction of David Vaccarezza, owner of Cal-Waste.

“Mind you, Good Earth Farms and Cal-Waste Recovery Systems are tied at the the hip under Dave Vaccarezza,” Callaway said. “It’s not illegal but it’s a conflict of interest. He should have recused himself.”

Oliveira saw this issue raised in a letter to the editor in this newspaper Oct. 16. He responded in his own letter to the editor that was published Tuesday this week. He also discussed Callaway’s perspective on the Cal-Waste rate increase Wednesday afternoon.

“We knew exactly where that came from,” Oliveira said of the campaign contributions. “It’s two different companies. It’s a smear campaign. I self-reported this to the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission). They sent me a letter on a non-sworn complaint. I’m waiting to hear back from them. There’s nothing to hide.”

The Cal-Waste rate increase was approved by the county back in 2016, before any election, Oliveira said.

The District 3 incumbent also added, “That same company they’re accusing me of backdooring has made contributions to Merita this election cycle.”

Callaway said Wednesday she is concerned about the timing of a Facebook post on a Re-Elect Michael Oliveira for Supervisor District 3 Calaveras County page, in which Oliveira said, “Cal Waste has also made contributions to Ms. Callaway. I would not expect her to recuse herself if she was faced with this situation.”

Callaway said that on Oct. 17, the claim that she had received contributions from Cal Waste was a lie. But then on Monday this week, she received three checks -- for $250 from David Vaccarezza, for $99 from David Vaccarezza and Kandas Vaccarezza, and for $99 from Rudy Vaccarezza – all in Cal-Waste envelopes with postmark dates of Oct. 19.

“I returned them by certified mail on Tuesday with the word ‘decline’ written on each check. And I wrote them a letter.”

She addressed it to the Vaccarezza Family and said she was returning the checks because recently there have been questions among residents, as well as herself, regarding the appropriateness of accepting donations from parties closely associated with businesses under contract with Calaveras County.

Informed Wednesday that Callaway had returned the checks from the Vaccarezzas, Oliveira said, “I was informed by the owner of the company that he had contributed to her campaign. If she wants to send it back that’s her prerogative. We’re going forth with our campaign and we’re looking to be very successful and retain our seat.”

The issues

Callaway and Oliveira recently faced questions at a debate about tree mortality, the county budget, the divisiveness on the Board of Supervisors and the Measure G visitors tax increase that will be put to voters on Nov. 6.

Callaway says she is non-partisan, fiscally conservative, and a balanced decision maker. She says she is dedicated to shaping District 3’s future by preserving its rural character and supporting services that continue to drive economic growth and a healthy community.

Oliveira, a former law enforcement officer, says he has focused on increasing the presence of sworn deputies in District 3 and he says crime is down in District 3. He says he is concerned about adequate fire protection countywide. He says he also has also focused on the business community, the building industry, youth opportunities and tourism.

Measure G asks voters if they want to increase the county visitors tax from 6 percent to 12 percent, to raise about $600,000 annually for essential services including emergency fire district response and protection, sheriff’s patrols helping prevent thefts and burglaries, road and pothole repairs, and attracting and retaining businesses.

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