She is a well known politician with expertise in many aspects of government, and a well connected, business friendly Democrat. He is more of a political outsider who is running as the more progressive candidate. Either one will have to beat a larger pool of Republicans to take office. Hillary versus Bernie? How about Kerri versus Gary?
In our February meeting, the American River Democrats welcomed two candidates for the upcoming open Sacramento County Supervisor seat currently held by Roberta McGlashan. The two known Democrats running for the office are long-time Folsom City Council member and sometime Mayor, Kerri Howell, and High School social studies teacher Gary Blenner.
Blenner introduced himself as a teacher at Rio Americano High, as well as a Union Representative, school board member, central committee member, and part of both the Town and Country Democrats and the JFK Club. This is his second time running for the County Supervisor seat; in 2012 he won 23% of the vote, but Roberta McGlashan held the seat by getting just over 50% in the June primary that year.
Blenner emphasized “People Before Profits”, noting the Gibson Ranch deal that gave the lease to Doug Ose for $1 a year in exchange for a profit share to run the county park, a deal Blenner calls an example of a cash giveaway to greedy developers.
Blenner supports the $15 minimum wage to support economic growth, supporting small business over “big box” stores using a vacancy tax to encourage empty strip mall and other commercial property owners to lower their rents to encourage small business, and a county owned community bank to support them.
Blenner also stressed government reform, cutting the pay of the supervisor position, changing the meeting times away from normal business hours when many people are at work so they are more accessible, and adding six additional positions to better represent the people, and not just developers.
Blenner believes it is important to find local solutions for homeless people, much in the way Salt Lake City has done, building housing that will actually save money, and providing access to mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, and job training programs, while taking away the criminalization of homelessness.
Blenner wants to ensure there is “smart growth” in the open lands in Sacramento County. He vows to make sure developers pay their fair share for the services needed (water, sewer, electric…) and guarantee enough open space. New developments should follow the “community neighborhood model” to reduce traffic and pollution, and encourage small business. Bike trails, parks, and access to light rail and mass transit are crucial.
To learn more about Gary Blenner, visit his website www.electgaryblenner.org.
Speaking next was Kerri Howell, a very familiar face to Folsom residents as a City Council member for over 17 years. But she is also a practicing engineer with her own firm, and a member of the Regional Sanitation district, the Sacramento Transportation Authority, the Folsom Lake College Foundation, and many other current and past positions, giving her established relationships with many elected officials. She believes she is the most qualified candidate for the Supervisor seat.
Howell said that public safety is a crucial issue. When citizens call 911, they need to get an immediate response. While this usually happens in cities like Folsom, in unincorporated areas of the county, such as Orangevale, Fair Oaks, and the rural areas in the south, response can be delayed.
Howell believes the county needs to better market the area to attract new residents and businesses, and make the process for licensing more streamlined. She wants to encourage high-tech Bay Area businesses to locate here. She also wants to expand light rail service to the airport, a logical way to bring travelers into the communities, especially after the success in expanding to Folsom. She also believes the southern county roadway expansion from El Dorado to Interstate 5, along Grant Line Road, needs to be completed to relieve traffic along the 50 Freeway.
Howell also believes we need more transparency in govenment, especially as it relates to campaign financing.
When asked about rural area development, notably south of the 50 Freeway, Howell was very familiar with the issues. She said that the land owned by the private individuals had already been planned for development as long as 30 years ago. As the prospect of it happening got closer, the city of Folsom began the effort to include that area in the city’s sphere of influence. While preventing the building was not a possibility, the city would be able to control how it was developed, insuring at least 30% open space, preserving the current oak tree groves, and including sufficient schools, parks, trails, and transportation. She also said that despite the ongoing drought, there was enough guaranteed water to support the additional homes and business, and that more efficient water systems required in the structures and properties would help make that possible.
To learn more about Kerri Howell, visit her website at www.votekerrihowell.com
With two great candidates in the running, area Democrats can be confidant that we will have at least one make it to the November ballot. Perhaps even two. . .
Images courtesy votekerrihowell.com and electgaryblenner.org
Ken Kiunke, Communications Secretary