Sacramento County supervisorial debate focuses on growth, homeless

The packed field of candidates seeking to replace longtime Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan took the stage of the Harris Center at Folsom Lake College this week for a debate that focused on economic development, public safety, the homeless and transportation challenges facing the county.

Five candidates are running for MacGlashan’s seat in the June primary: High school teacher Gary Blenner, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2012; Sue Frost, who has been a Citrus Heights councilwoman since 2012 and was the city’s mayor in 2015; Kerri Howell, who has served on the Folsom City Council for more than 17 years, including two years as mayor; Michael Kozlowski, an architect and high school track coach; and longtime Folsom Cordova Unified School District trustee Teresa Stanley, who also owns a family law firm.

MacGlashan announced last year she would not seek another term after serving on the Board of Supervisors for 12 years. District 4 represents communities in eastern and northern Sacramento County, including Rio Linda, Antelope, Citrus Heights, Orangevale and Folsom.

It is the only Sacramento County supervisor district where more voters are registered Republican than Democrat, 41 percent to 32 percent, according to county data.

Nearly 200 people attended the debate, which was co-sponsored by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce and other business groups in the area.

Frost began by saying she would focus on “fiscal responsibility, personal liberty and public safety.” She advocated for more focus on homelessness and said her priority would be public safety.

“Our job is to provide the best services we can afford,” she said. “We must live within our means.”

Like her counterparts, Frost said the county should do more to promote a friendly business environment and safeguard the area’s water supply. She also attacked the notion that the county should raise its minimum wage. “Increasing the minimum wage means we’re going to lose jobs,” she said.

She added that homeless people are “creating problems” for businesses in the county and said law enforcement agencies need to address the “aggressive homeless.” She wants the county to enforce illegal camping ordinances and opposed the creation of a sanctioned tent city such as the one under consideration in the city of Sacramento.

Howell leaned on her tenure in Folsom, saying the city had flourished with “well-planned growth and increased economic prosperity.” She said her priorities are public safety, expanding business opportunities and improving the county’s transportation. She advocated for the Capital SouthEast Connector road linking Elk Grove with Highway 50 in El Dorado County.

“We need to work together to attract new business and good-paying jobs,” she said.

Howell said she has taken part in hundreds of meetings on development and new growth, citing plans for Folsom to expand in the future. She said she would use that “success in growth and development and spread them out to benefit the entire region.”

“We have done a really good job of maintaining open space and knowing what the cost of services will be for new development,” she said.

Stanley said the Folsom area has “built one of the best public education systems in the entire state” during her tenure.

“I think that’s a very good background for what needs to be done at the supervisor level,” she said. “I think we’ve been instrumental in our district in promoting economic development.”

Her priorities: “jobs, public safety and fiscal responsibility.”

She said new developments should be approved only when they “fit community needs,” citing concerns in Orangevale, where some residents living in rural areas oppose the approval of new housing projects. “If the residents don’t want it, the county shouldn’t impose that on them,” she said.

She ended her remarks by saying she would focus on quality schools, is “independent of special interests” and would fight to “protect open spaces from reckless planning.”

Kozlowski said “Sacramento County deserves a supervisor that has the capacity to not only be a leader but be that cheerleader.” He advocated for a “sensible, sustainable county budget” and said the county should focus on the basics: funding public safety and improving roads. And he advocated for moving forward with the Highway 50 connector project. He opposed a $15 minimum wage in the county and said more should be done to ease restrictions on new businesses.

On homelessness, Kozlowski said that population has become a drain on the Sheriff’s Department “when they can be doing other things.” Instead, he said the county should provide more funding for mental health services.

“I’d like to see us take steps to reinforce our mental health services and be that quick bridge for people that by unfortunate circumstance find themselves homeless,” he said.

Blenner established himself as the most liberal of the candidates, promoting a $15 an hour minimum wage in the county, the creation of a county-owned community bank, the preservation of open spaces and “putting the brakes on developers who seem to have a hold on the Board of Supervisors.”

He said the supervisors “need to slow down the rate of growth in the county” and said too much recent development has occurred along freeways, contributing to traffic and pollution.

“Most of the economic growth in this county has gone to the super wealthy, to the special interests,” he said. “I want to change the priorities of this county.”

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis