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Meet the Dist. 4 candidates

April 19, 2012

The Inyo Register’s election coverage moves a little farther north in Southern Inyo and the race for District 4 Inyo County Supervisor.
District 4 covers an area of the county that stretches just south of Bishop and continues to just north of Lone Pine, encompassing the communities of Independence, Aberdeen, Big Pine, Keough’s and Wilkerson.
Incumbent Marty Fortney and challengers Chris Dangwillo, Mark Tillemans and Nina Weisman have each provided a candidate’s statement which appears below.
With the 2012 Presidential Primary rapidly approaching, the Register recently invited all candidates for local and state office to share with readers a bit about themselves, their platforms and positions.
Through the remainder of April, the Register will be publishing candidate statements from those political hopefuls who responded to our invitation. Then, in May, the Register will begin printing the candidates’ answers to a series of questions specific to the office for which they are running.
For the first part of our series, candidates were asked to submit a statement – no more than 800 words – in which they essentially introduce themselves to voters, summarize their reasons for seeking office and what they hope to accomplish if elected.
The candidates’ responses appear verbatim, and in random order (their names were literally drawn out of a hat).

Mark Tillemans

I am honored for the opportunity to run for District 4 Supervisor. I was born and raised in Big Pine, CA, and after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Management from Menlo College, I returned home to the Owens Valley. My wife Jana and I have two boys, and consider ourselves fortunate to be raising our family here.
Returning to Big Pine was motivated by several things, starting with a desire to raise my children in a friendly and family-centered community, and because of a passion to dedicate myself to leadership, and civic duty. I sincerely believe by “expecting more,” we can achieve or “get more.”
I have devoted my professional career to helping others achieve their goals through education, wellness, and career development, and as District Supervisor I will be able to continue along this positive path.
Currently, I work for the Big Pine Paiute Tribe and have been integral in both the Education and Economic Development departments. My success within the Education Department is something I am very proud of, including the creation of eight full-time positions and two part-time positions, which have served to successfully improve educational services to our Youth and Families. In addition, I was instrumental in the development and opening of the Wellness Center, encouraging healthy activities for tribal individuals and families. The Wellness Center will be open to the general public on June 2; I am sincerely looking forward to seeing community members working together toward a healthier future.
Much of my energy over the past two years has been dedicated to the development of the Big Pine Paiute Travel Plaza, and to really understanding the unique needs of business, job development and the communities of the Owens Valley. As this project nears construction, it will bring 40 new jobs to our community, and will be a model for future partnerships on and off the reservation. The process has taught me the importance of relationships with local, state, federal and tribal agencies; essential skills I will bring with me to the Board of Supervisors.
Sustaining and building our community is my commitment. My experience with youth development programs and experiential education activities will bring needed energy into our local schools. I will develop activities and career training opportunities that encourage youth to take pride in Inyo County, and give them viable options for higher education, internships and employment.
With a growing population of retirees, I also understand the need to take care of our elderly. I would like to expand volunteer opportunities for retired citizens, and give them empowering positions that utilizes their skills and experience for the benefit of the entire community. Bringing youth and elderly together often produces positive results, and I will help these two groups engage more often.
One of my primary goals as Supervisor is to seek positive economic development opportunities, while preserving the place we call home. Inyo County needs innovation and vision when it comes to job creation, I have the energy and hands-on experience to lead our community, and achieve 21st century results. I will leverage support for small businesses creation and development so our towns have strong economic foundations and realistic avenues in which they can grow. One of my greatest strengths is community relations; I can identify with various groups, engage everyone in a collaborative process, identify resources, and achieve desired results.
I will produce a quarterly newsletter for all citizens of Inyo County so everyone is better informed about successes, challenges, upcoming issues and the work being done by local leadership. In addition, I will make myself available and accessible to speak with anyone about their concerns or ideas, and answer questions about difficult issues. Engaging with members of the community is something that excites me most about the District Supervisor position.
A recent report from the National Park Service’s “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative shows that outdoor recreation is a $135 billion industry, and domestic tourism holds the greatest potential for job growth of any industry within the United States. Inyo County has some of the most valuable natural resources anywhere, and further developing ecotourism while remaining vigilant about preservation can make our communities stronger, healthier and more sustainable.
My age and enthusiasm, combined with my skills, experience, and family values, are elements that will greatly benefit Inyo County leadership, thereby affecting positive change within towns throughout the district, county, state and country. I look forward to an opportunity to serve my community on a higher level, and embrace the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.
What matters most is input from you, the constituent. Please e-mail me your opinions and concerns at voteTillemans@gmail.com, or you can reach me by cell at (760) 263-4075. Also, you can follow my campaign at voteTillemans@facebook.com.

Christopher Dangwillo

My name is Christopher “Chris” Dangwillo. I first came to the Eastern Sierras in the summer of 1977 on a family vacation to Glacier Lodge. It was there I learned to fish and to appreciate the awesome beauty of the high Sierras. After graduating from Norco High School, I joined the Army reserves and served in a military intelligence unit. At Cal State San Bernardino, I received a Bachelor of Arts in English. I received my teaching credential from Chapman University. I pursued graduate coursework in Linguistics at Cal State San Bernardino. Since receiving my teaching credential, I have taught elementary school, middle school, high school, and international college students. I also served as vice president of a Parent Teacher Associate (PTA). Currently, I teach fourth grade in Lone Pine.
Being an educator in a local school district has provided me with a unique perspective of the people of Inyo and their concerns. And many of the people I know feel their concerns are completely neglected. My main goal is to involve the constituency in the decision making process through some form of direct representation: phone calls, e-mail, local forums, potlucks – to discuss important issues, such as consolidating the county offices in a new building. Involving people in the process gives folks a feeling of ownership of the decisions being made, but more importantly a feeling of membership in the community. For me the role of supervisor will be working with people to create the communities they want to be a part of by listening, then doing.
I am seeking the office of supervisor because District 4 needs an independent voice free from conflict of interest. A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other (wiki). In District 4 incumbent supervisor, Marty Fortney, has a lease with the LADWP. Mr. Fortney manages the property as a resort, known as Aberdeen. Since this arrangement provides Mr. Fortney with income, he is a de facto business partner with the LADWP. Therefore, it would be expected that Mr. Fortney should recuse himself from any issue dealing with the LADWP, and for that matter even issues that concern Aberdeen. This is irony at its best – because of his conflicting interest; he cannot be an effective representative of the residents of his own resort. Nor can he provide effective representation for those who have concerns with the LADWP. Given the nature and history of the LADWP, this is a monumental conflict of interest, and while not illegal, it is certainly a conflict where the supervisor’s interests are pitted against his constituency.
A conflict of interest is a breeding ground for corruption. From helping friends and families get jobs, to guiding lucrative contracts to organizations that provide kickbacks or bribes. Another consideration is that conflicts of interest weaken representative government. In a recent board meeting, Linda Arcularius and Richard Cervantes abstained from voting on a clean air project due to a conflict of interest – they are both members of IMACA, a recipient of county funds. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, the board members abstained from voting. However, in refraining from voting, they failed to do their primary job – represent their constituency. In this case the vote was 3-0, with the two refraining. Silence then is a form of consent or approval, and in a democratic society the opposite of representation.  
The solution is simple, elect candidates who do not have a conflict of interest. Our local leaders can be lapdogs or guard dogs, but they cannot be both. It seems that a few of our supervisors are lapdogs, who due to the nature of their conflict of interest have lost their teeth. They bark, run around, cause some commotion. However, in the end they will curl up into a ball and fall asleep near the warmth of the fire, ignoring the real threat. We need public servants who do not serve two masters.   
I want to work with the LADWP to develop better methods of measuring ground water pumping so that our valley can be more verdant, promoting more wildlife. Also, I would like to work with the LADWP to bring back an ROP program that trained high school students for occupations such as welding and machinists. I want to work with local businesses to create economic opportunities for the young people. I would also involve myself in an effort to implement the first phase of the Adventure Trails System by working with local enthusiasts to create safe trails.
From the battleground to the playground, my life has been one of public service. I hope you can help me continue to serve by supporting me on June 5.

Marty Fortney

I am honored to serve as your Fourth District Supervisor. As a lifelong resident of Inyo County, my primary goal is to ensure that generations to come will have access to enjoy this extraordinary area, where each town enjoys a strong sense of community and has a representative who understands and respects the importance and meaning of their individuality. It takes all of us to work together to succeed in maintaining strong communities.
My family settled a cattle ranch on Georges Creek, south of Independence, in 1864. I was raised in Big Pine in the home my Great-grandfather built in 1908 and spent much of my youth listening to stories of the struggles and hardship this valley faced in the early years.  After High School I enlisted in the US Navy and served aboard the battleship USS New Jersey providing support and protection during Beirut. During my service in the military I married my high school sweetheart, Diane. We own and operate Aberdeen Resort where we raised our daughters, Hannah and Trisha.
My education includes graduating from Big Pine High School, multiple specialty schools through the US Navy, a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management (Magna cum Laud), and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
My strong sense of family values and the importance of community encourages me to volunteer locally. As a member of the Big Pine Fire Department, I serve as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Fire Captain. I have coached girls softball for both little league and Big Pine High School. I served for six years on the Inyo-Mono Fish and Game advisory commission and as president of the Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery. I have provided grunt labor and as a liaison to help in the continued restoration project of Engine 18 at Dehy Park in Independence. I am a member of the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
As your Fourth District Supervisor, I have been diligent to ensure I do my best to represent you honorably and effectively. A few of my accomplishments since I was elected in 2008 include working to ensure that our Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Programs in Inyo County are adequate and sustainable.  The importance of our local volunteers and their families is valuable to our communities.  Securing grant funding to provide video conferencing equipment allows Emergency Responders to obtain training without leaving their stations.  I am helping to coordinate local Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic test sites with Cerro Coso Community College at the Ridgecrest campus and soon at the Bishop campus.  By doing this our medical responders will not need to leave the area to obtain certification and training, thus leaving the communities without adequate coverage.
The Center Fire in Big Pine has shown us the generosity of friends and neighbors when disaster hits. As frustrating as being on the fire lines and watching a friends’ home burn was,  I am proud to be working with the communities of Big Pine and Independence to form Fire Safe Counsels.
A large part of my job has been to work with various residents within my district to resolve property issues that arise. Many times folks just need help in solving problems by coordinating with the various County Departments. I take pride in helping folks with these sometimes frustrating and difficult problems.  
While I continue to work on issues important within the Fourth District, my commitment remains to addressing issues that affect the entire County of Inyo. As Inyo County moves toward compliance with Legislative mandates in regard to “Going Green,” I am working with our Planning Director and the California Energy Commission on developing a Renewable Energy plan which makes sense for Inyo County and the environment.   We should be proud to say that Inyo County plays host to several sources of green energy such as hydro-electric and geothermal and is currently in discussions about solar energy.  In committing to explore alternative energy sources, we continue to work to ensure the County of Inyo is as wonderful and pristine place to live in the future as we have enjoyed in the past.
I have been honored to receive endorsements from both Assembly Woman Connie Conway and Senator Jean Fuller. I humbly request your continued support in trusting me to represent you as your Fourth District Supervisor and respectfully ask for your vote on June 5.

Nina Weisman

Thank you for reading my candidate statement. Inyo County has always been a special place for me, especially the Owens Valley. I am a candidate for the position of Inyo County Fourth District Supervisor. I have the skills, motivation, and passion to work hard for you. I am confident in my ability to provide excellent representation.
 I am a UCLA graduate with a BA degree in Geography. I followed this up by earning a California State Teaching Credential from Humboldt State University. I have extensive experience in the construction industry, including budgeting, working with government agencies, and successful completion of projects.
I have spent many years employed by the National Park Service as a law enforcement officer with an emphasis on EMS, search and rescue, and fire management. Much of my NPS experience included supervisory duties.
As a volunteer I have worked with the annual Fruitcake Festival, the Independence Fourth of July Celebration, and the senior lunch program. I am a member of the Friends of the Eastern California Museum, the Independence Civic Club, and the Independence Fire Safe Council.
Seniors are a large percentage of our population and deserve our full support. I will give senior concerns my full attention.
I value local agriculture and access to open space and will do my best to protect them.
Emergency services hold our communities together. We need to maintain our law enforcement, EMS, fire, and search and rescue programs.
Our economy relies heavily on tourist dollars. I have already begun researching ways to increase revenues in this area.
I have completely read and understand the Inyo/L.A. Long Term Water Agreement and I attend the Inyo County Water Commission meetings. I fully support upholding the Inyo/L.A. Long Term Water Agreement.
Town projects are a matter of pride and boost the economy for local communities. The Carson & Colorado train rehabilitation in Independence and the Christmas decorations and flag in Big Pine are some examples. I also support the community garden efforts in the Owens Valley. I will help with town projects in any way possible.
I’ve contacted people who are looking at large scale projects, such as the Hidden Hills Solar Plant, and discussed training and hiring opportunities for Inyo County residents.
I will ensure fiscal responsibility without sacrificing important programs. The governmental budgeting process is complex and I’ve been reviewing the Inyo County 2011-2012 Annual Budget.
I support keeping the county seat in Independence and maintaining important services throughout the county.
The position of county supervisor is an important responsibility. I understand many of the issues that face Inyo County. My tenacity, analytical abilities, and problem solving skills make me the best candidate for Inyo County Fourth District Supervisor.
I would be honored to have your vote,
Nina Weisman
(760) 582-2199
ninaweismanforsupervisor@gmail.com

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