|Supervisor candidate forum: Dist. 1 (with technical difficulties)|
Candidates running for Yuma County Board of Supervisor discuss issues at a candidate forum hosted by Yuma Sun at Booth Machinery Tuesday evening. District 1 Democrats: Lenore Lorona Stuart, Augustin Tumbaga Jr. and Paulo Escalante.
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Sups candidates talk jobs, taxes
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Jobs and taxes were familiar subjects for familiar candidates for the Yuma County Board of Supervisors and their challengers alike.
Before a crowd at Booth Machinery in Yuma Tuesday night, contestants who will be on the ballot in the Aug. 28 primary for this fall's supervisors races spoke often about the economy, plus animal control, road conditions, services like the libraries and public transit, and more. Tuesday's forum was hosted by the Yuma Sun.
Lenore Lorona Stuart is looking to hold onto her seat in District 1 and is up against Paulo Escalante and Augustin Tumbaga Jr., a former Somerton mayor, in that district's Democratic primary. Republicans Russ Clark and Shawn Smith are aiming for the seat about to be vacated by Casey Prochaska in District 3. Republican Greg Ferguson is running for re-election in District 5 against Jacob Miller in the primary.
Tumbaga, Escalante, Clark, Smith, Miller and Ferguson listed jobs as at least one of the top issues facing the county. For Ferguson, it repeated as the top three.
“Jobs, jobs and jobs,” he said.
Tumbaga said referring to Yuma's seasonal agricultural job base is an excuse for the high unemployment, and there needs to be more year-round work.
Also among key issues, Stuart said holding onto the money that is lost to the state, despite unfunded mandates put on counties, is important.
Clark called for transparency in government.
“We need the voters and everyone to feel comfortable with the government, that they're in charge of the government, that they're in control of the government,” he said.
Smith mentioned infrastructure, weaving it into the greater economic cloth.
“Infrastructure's a huge thing — the roads, the water, the power, because that also attracts business,” he said.
The topic of animal control, now a function of the county government, didn't just strike close to home for Smith, it hit inside the house — he's executive director of the Humane Society of Yuma, which held the contract with the county before the county assumed operations itself this summer. He said animal control wasn't for HSOY, but it should have moved into other private hands, not the government's.
Clark, a small-government advocate who helped found the Colorado River Tea Party, said he's a “privatization guy.”
“Every time we do that (grow government) it grows beyond what they budgeted,” he said. “It gets bigger than they say it will.”
Jacob Miller touted his youth — he is 30 years old — and the new ideas that come with that. He also pledged to not increase taxes.
“Increasing taxes is never gonna do anything good,” he said. “The people are gonna be upset.”
Tumbaga said supervisors need to knock on doors and generate more revenues if they aren't to raise taxes.
Ferguson noted that during a Democrat majority, the county had the same tax rate for eight years. When a Republican majority followed, the tax rate dropped for six years before bouncing.
Stuart said her vote against the last tax increase was amid a difficult situation but she did it for the people she represents.
“I did not vote because my constituents asked me not to, and I do listen to my constituents,” she said.
Stuart agreed with her District 1 challengers that they're responsible to the same broader county population, whether called constituents, taxpayers or simply “everybody.”
“The Board of Supervisors is responsible to the taxpayers. We're spending their money, pure and simple,” Stuart said.
District 1 is an all-Democrat race, while Districts 2 and 4 are skipping primaries — their candidates are Democrat Dan Dawson and Republican incumbent Russell McCloud, and Democrat incumbent Marco Antonio “Tony” Reyes and Republican David Lara, respectively. After the primaries decide the sole Republicans for Districts 3 and 5, that candidate will go on to face Democrats and independents. In District 3, those include Democrat Karl Koenig and independent Ginger Jane Hammack. In District 5, it's Democrat David Lerma and independents Mike Caltabiano and Gary Wright.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.