People can't live here without a way to make a living. It's the #1 reason young people and workers are leaving. Yet, in this global world, we've never been more competitive than we are at this moment. Tourism has increased exponentially; the internet provides access to far-away markets; self-education is freely available; and cheaper, beautiful, comfortable rural areas are in demand accelerated even more by COVID-19.
I have great respect for our historic job creators in mining, ranching, and wood products. They are the heart and soul of our area –– true value creators –– and my policies will help these industries thrive. We also have large sectors tapping other strengths in hospitality, healthcare, outdoor adventure, and services to seniors. Many of these businesses and service industries are generations-old family brands that build up our sense of community.
What we do not have, however, is a plan that builds the diversity needed for economic resiliency. Instead, our focus has been circle the wagons while we slowly become Dollar Generals. We're losing ourselves chunk by chunk, but it doesn't have to be that way.
There are model examples in the community of success stories proving our robust ability to compete in many areas: light manufacturing (Kinematics, UV Skinz, Certified Scientific Instruments), exports (MotherLode Coffee Roasters, Indiginy), technology (FrontPorch), telecommuting (WorkPlace Sonora), spirits (Gianelli, Bear Tent Brewing, Inner Sanctum), agribusiness (Hurst Ranch, Cover's Apple Ranch).
We need fewer people living paycheck-to-paycheck, diverse skillsets, varied industries, telecommuters and agribusiness and wine and investment. It's going to require innovative thinking and vision, both of which have been in short supply at the Board of Supervisors. The government may not create private-sector jobs, but it has a huge role in developing an environment that carries success. I believe we can create the environment and emerge from our challenges stronger.
Broad, non-industry-specific approaches to promote general economic prosperity.
- First off, local businesses will always be my first priority over any franchise. It's charming, community-oriented, and keeps that money here
- Zoning reform including zoning compliance with the General Plan, mixed-use zoning wherever possible, and considering form-based codes
- Reviewing regulations in excess of state standards to see 1) do they accomplish what they seek to and 2) is there a better alternative. I will review line-by-line our standing ordinances, resolutions, and policies to ensure they are working for us, not against
- Partner with our Economic Development Authority to set goals that develop investment and entrepreneurship, not just maintain the status quo
- Better utilize Columbia College as the economic engine it can be by supporting student housing, local business partnerships, career pipelines, working with UC Merced (my alma mater), and projects like building leadership rope courses for retreats. Dr. Bandyopadhyay (President of CC) has some great ideas I look forward to working on
- Pursue Trump's Economic Opportunity Zone investments for Sonora as well as requesting eligibility for District 5 census tracts. [EOZ Census Tract Link]
- Establish a low-cost business license to track our economy, improve planning, assist entrepreneurs, and provide documentation for insurance. Until COVID, we didn't even have a list of county businesses
- Establish a Franchise Approval Board to so when our community says no, the County can too. Never again will a town so strongly and clearly oppose a store like Dollar General only to be subsequently snubbed
- Set up a "Shop Local" credit card to reward keeping dollars here
Address congestion and traffic in Jamestown
- I will not support any additional stoplights near Jamestown until we fix the Rawhide/5th Ave congestion, timing, and synchronization
- I will also be pushing for a green thoroughfare at 5th ave during high-traffic hours
- Identify and fix local blight with targetted incentives, expedited permitting, and more flexibility so we can improve some of these eyesores
- Value innovation and good ideas that rise to meet a need. Examples include additional food truck licenses, non-traditional wedding venues, relaxed sidewalk vending rules, open-air markets, and supporting community art
Jamestown, Columbia, and the rest of Tuolumne County is a wonderful attraction and stop-through on the way to Yosemite.
- Universal electric vehicle chargers in more locations around the county so tourists stop to charge, shop, and buy lunch
- Restoring bus service for regular routes to airports and the Valley. It's been tried before and failed in execution –– the customers are there, and I believe we can do it for commuters, access to key Valley services, international tourists, and regional day-trippers
- Reorganizing Columbia Airport under Transportation for more hangers, grants, commercial usage, and synergy
- Rocking large events with easy permitting, flexible rules, and a positive attitude for ones such as Amgen, fairs, festivals, films, block parties, car shows, motorcycle tours and more
- Jamestown needs a big bold beautiful sign and I will aggressively pursue CalTrans for this
- Commercial hotel projects that can accommodate conventions, large groups, and visitors wanted a brand name
- Protecting the Visitor's Bureau contract because it gives back 10 times what we put in especially for smaller lodging establishments
A diverse economy will bring in new jobs and ensure we can more resiliently persevere through unexpected downturns.
Massive movement on bringing in rural broadband internet, especially to Columbia and limited service areas
- That means utility pipes in new road projects, expediting conditional use permits for LTE dish-to-dish wireless systems, and adding 90% broadband penetration by 2023 as a General Plan goal.
- This supports more desirable neighborhoods, online learning, advanced agricultural applications, telecommuters, e-commerce, and more
- More technical education such as LVN training, 4-H apprenticeships, local employer partnerships, and a county internship through the Maddy Institute
Cannabis* is an opportunity we can no longer look past for millions in investment, good jobs, and parcel improvements. I will put forward an "aggressively slow" plan to work with trusted local partners in developing an agricultural, recreational, and cannabusiness industry that promotes entrepreneurship, brings money home from exports, and funds desperately needed community improvements
- *I fully recognize this is a controversial issue and I am always willing to have a conversation about it. Please reach out and ask. There are unique issues with cannabis, and I would not move forward with this without a plan to address those concerns or if I believed it will hurt our community.
- **That being said, I'm tired of officials refusing to make tough calls or speak frankly about ideas due to selfish fear of criticism or public discussion. I promise to listen. However, I'd rather stand for something controversial that I believe in rather than stand for nothing at all.
- Hemp production for fiber, food, and CBD additives is an agricultural product and needs to be legalized and treated as such
- Winemaking, micro-breweries, and local spirits distillation should be encouraged and I want to form a Wine Council similar to Calaveras. The county may have lost Ironstone long ago, but there is still huge potential here
- Building on regional strengths with a new direction. For example, as a top producer of dolomite, limestone, rough sand, and ethically sourced wood, Tuolumne County should seek to develop a sustainable packaging industry for glass, paper, and concrete
- Bring back Tuolumne County movie-magic by advertising our area, compiling resources, and making the process easy
- Manufacturing tax incentives to target new businesses by waiving new property taxes on improvements for (x) number of years. Our current tax credit ordinance is so old and out-of-date that it's illegal
- Find Harvard Mine a useful purpose. Dawdling cost us millions in EPA damages, and it's time to make a move
Mining, logging, and ranching and are at the core of our historic industries and have provided for generations of families.
- Continue to support the Williamson Act
Continue to support the impressive and collaborative work of Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions (YSS)
- I'm very impressed with their work in advancing the pace, scale, local impact, and public input of resource operations as well as finding best practices for public lands grazing management and reducing fuel load
- Support broader agribusiness ventures by serving as an advocate for farms and ranches on the Board
I proudly support the work of Blue Mountain Mineral, Sierra Pacific Industries, Pacific Ultrapower, and the many jobs they provide locally
- Not only jobs but also the equipment to perform essential treatments on our forest that keep us safe