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Supervisor candidates answer constituents

May 30, 2014

At this past Tuesday’s candidate’s forum for District 1 Supervisor hopefuls Bill Stoll Dave Tanskley and Dan Totheroh had an opportunity to field questions from constituents.
In the Q&A portion of the Candidate’s Night Forum, residents were invited to submit a question or questions to one or all three candidates. The forum co-host, the Independence Civic Club, screened the questions to ensure there were no repeats. (See the Thursday, May 29, 2014 edition of The Inyo Register to see how candidates responded to four questions given in advance regarding countywide issues.)
First, the candidates were asked how they feel about off-highway vehicle travel, considering that many seek the Owens Valley and greater Eastern Sierra for peace and solitude, while others come to recreate.
Tanksley, the first to field the question, said that outdoor recreation is something everyone must share. “We all need to use it. It’s multiple use. I think off-road multiple use is a good tourist base,” Tanksley said, adding that more can be done to educate OHV users and other recreators throughout the county.
Totheroh said that during his career with the U.S. Forest Service, one of his responsibilities was the road system. “The Forest is for multiple use, and off-highway vehicles are part of that,” he said. He said Inyo has a duty to balance competing interests. He said the only instance where he would be in favor of closing a dirt road is if it is redundant, with another nearby road running parallel to the same destination.
Stoll said that he enjoys both the quiet solitude that comes with area angling, but he also enjoys family OHV trips to local mines, and it is simply a matter of balancing the two interests. He said he doesn’t often find disruptive OHV users in the vicinity of his favorite fishing holes, with the exception of the Owens River.
Next, the candidates were asked what their position is on a controversial proposal to build a county consolidated office in Bishop.
Stoll said he is still researching the matter, and has not yet formed an opinion on the proposed building plan.
Totheroh said that if the county had invested in a consolidated building 20 years ago, it could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on rent and lease payments. “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money,” he said, adding that a new building could mean better services for residents.
Tanskley said that he recognizes the consolidated building is a “touchy issue” that he hasn’t yet decided on. “Consolidation is great, but I would have to see the numbers,” Tanksley said. “The numbers would have to show a positive gain.”
Another resident asked each candidate why they decided to run for office.
Totheroh said that his neighbors asked him to run, and he agreed because he likes serving people.
Stoll said he enjoys hashing out issues, has time to serve on the board and wants to “give back.”
Tanskley said he got a taste for local government while working with the board on policies regarding the Forest Service Travel Management Plan and the formation of the Natural Resources Advisory Committee, which he chaired.
“I have a lot to offer because of my background,” Tanksley said. “I can made a difference dramatically.”
Next, the candidates were asked what real and immediate steps they could take to make opening a small business easier in Inyo County.
As a local business owner, Stoll said that he has not experienced any problems attempting to pull permits from county offices. “They do not make it that difficult,” he said.
Also a small business owner, Tanskley said he too has found it easy to work with the county, but added that Inyo could add guides and other information to the county website to guide residents who want to open up shop. Tanksley also said that most of the issues prospective business owners run into are at the state level.
Totheroh said that during his career with the Forest Service he has worked with at least nine different counties. “This is one of the most responsive counties I’ve seen” in regards to business permits.
Next, the candidates were asked what oversight or controls they would like to see implemented to avoid crimes like the $1.5 million embezzlement discovered in the Health and Human Services Department last year.
Stoll and Tanskley both said that, because the issue is a personnel matter that the county won’t discuss, they don’t know what happened or what could be done to fix the problem.
Totheroh explained that criminal action is difficult to stop, and “when you’re managing a large organization, it’s difficult to have oversight without losing the enthusiasm of the employees.”
Another resident asked what the candidates’ positions are on the LADWP’s desire to pump groundwater from below Owens Lake to handle dust mitigation.
Tanskley said he is against the idea, as pumping groundwater from the lake will impact nearby streams and seeps, while between 30 and 40 percent of the water would be lost to evaporation.
Totheroh said that is a subject he would need to discuss with Water Director Bob Harrington before making a decision.
Stoll said he would simply say “no” to the proposal.
Next, a resident asked Totheroh his position on mineral extraction and its opportunities.
He said that mining is a legitimate use of land, but it needs to operate within regulation. “We need to balance resources,” he said.
Stoll added that he feels that state mandates are “killing mines” but he believes that they are a positive industry for the county.
Tanksley simply said that he feels mining is an acceptable use of land.
Next, a resident asked Tanskley what kind of message a bumper sticker that states “Graze it, Log it, Burn it” sends to visitors in the area.
Tanskley said the interpretation is up to the reader. “Everyone has their own opinion,” he said. “It would be speculation, so I’m not going to answer.”
Totheroh said that as many as 27 million visitors come to the Eastern Sierra each year. “My interpretation is a disrespect for multiple use,” Totheroh said, explaining that residents, and visitors, should think about utilization of recreational land, as well as preservation.
Stoll said the topic is very polarized. “Let’s find something we can agree on,” he said.
Voters of District 1 who haven’t already voted by absentee ballot will head to the polls this coming Tuesday to choose their new supervisor from among the three candidates.

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