Placer County supervisors have a lot on their plate, and thanks to voters who approved a 2014 ballot measure, they’re being paid twice as much to handle it.
While the challengers seeking to oust the three incumbents on the June 7 ballot have some strengths, voters would be better served to re-elect Jim Holmes, Kirk Uhler and Jennifer Montgomery.
With their experience, judgment and priorities, they are best equipped to wrestle with the complex issues facing Placer, one of California’s fastest-growing counties. One issue headed their way is a possible half-cent sales tax on the November ballot to help fund the county’s transportation needs. Holmes is generally in support, Uhler is skeptical and Montgomery wants to see the final proposal.
Holmes, first elected in 2004, represents District 3, which covers Loomis and most of Rocklin. He wants to finish a financial rescue plan for special fire districts and the Placer County Conservation Plan, which will steer development away from precious habitat for the next 50 years.
His opponent is Robert Grigas, who unsuccessfully challenged Holmes in 2012. Grigas says Placer should be getting a bigger share of state money, which is why he supports the State of Jefferson, a misguided movement for 21 Northern California counties to secede.
Uhler, who served as supervisor from 1993 to 1996 and started his second stint in 2006, represents District 4, which includes Granite Bay and part of Roseville. He also wants to complete the conservation plan and stresses moving toward long-term financial stability, including reducing retiree costs and other unfunded liabilities.
His challenger is Victor Bekhet, a first-time candidate who decided to run after a housing project was proposed next to his home. He says there’s a problem with overdevelopment and poor planning.
The candidates are in an unfortunate and nasty fight over a phony Bekhet website created by a political blogger who has worked for Uhler in the past. Uhler says his campaign has no connection. Bekhet says the website includes hateful material, and he filed a complaint this month with the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The commission, however, dismissed the complaint, saying it doesn’t have authority over such material.
Montgomery, first elected in 2008, represents District 5, which stretches from Auburn to Lake Tahoe. Her priorities include fully implementing the county’s 211 community information line and Laura’s Law, which lets judges order some severely mentally ill people into treatment.
Her foe is Michael Babich, who ran in the Republican primary against Rep. Tom McClintock in 2010. Babich’s big issues are property rights and overregulation. While it’s a nonpartisan race, Babich is backed by local Republican groups and is counting on a surge in GOP registration spurred by the presidential race.
Partisan politics, however, should matter far less in a supervisor race than a candidate’s knowledge and commitment to the county. By those measures, Montgomery deserves another term. So do Holmes and Uhler.