Washington and Milne provide clear choices for local voters
On Oct. 6, Sup. Chuck Washington and Hemet City Council member Shellie Mine, candidates for the Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor’s seat, were in Idyllwild to share their views and vision for the Hill and the county at a forum sponsored by the Town Crier.
Members of the audience posed all of the questions to the candidates. Questions were Idyllwild-centric. The candidates were candid and prepared sound-bites were not the tone of the evening.
The questions about the Idyllwild Water District and Idyllwild’s role in the county and the candidates’ responses are below. The remaining questions, including several regarding Town Hall and the future Community Center, will be in next week’s paper. Rather than repeat the questions in the order asked, they have been organized by subject so that the totality of the responses can be together rather than separated and disparate.
The Idyllwild Water District
Q. The Idyllwild Water District is in disarray with the resignation of two directors and the general manager. Would the [supervisor] candidates favor a community election to replace the resigned directors or would you want to appoint the replacement of directors?
Milne: The community has the right to choose its own leaders. It is not our place to make that decision.
Washington: I’d like the board to do its business and understand the challenges placed on the community. But if the board with three directors cannot agree on a path, we’ll [the County Board of Supervisors] appoint someone until the next election. I’ll fulfill our obligation with input from the community.
I wouldn’t expect a costly special election.
[Director John Cook, if he chooses, will be up for re-election in August 2017, as well as whoever replaces former Director Mike Frietas.]
Q. IWD needs a legal answer as to whether two or three votes are sufficient to pass a motion.
CW: I’ve done my homework to be prepared to take action. Three members can take action as a quorum. Two can pass a motion. But if only two attend a meeting, nothing can be done.
The board can still function if they choose. All can be there and give proper notice, according to the Brown Act. If they can’t, we’ll fulfill our obligation.
SM: With a quorum of three, two is a majority of three. I hope the current board members fulfill their obligation to the community.
Q. What are the candidates’ positions on climate change, and to what extent do they believe climate change will impact the Idyllwild community water supply and the community wildfire threat?
SM: Being a farmer, I am extremely aware of climate change. But I differ because I don’t believe it is entirely man-made. Long-term climatic cycles also influence the current weather.
I absolutely believe that there are things we can do to be good stewards. But conservation over property rights — no!
CW: Climate change is proven. The debate is how we can respond to that.
There are state statutes to help. But we can manage them. As a supervisor and former city council member, the key is to keep them from being onerous.
Idyllwild and Hill community
Q. Can we talk about your view of Idyllwild (its rural nature) and its place within the county? Do you have specific views about recreation on the Hill?
[Both candidates described their initial visit to Idyllwild and how they have been personally drawn here. Washington and his wife camped at Lake Hemet. Milne and her husband have a cabin and spent their honeymoon here.]
CW: We love this community. We wish we had a second home here.
What we love is that everyone is committed to the community. They have different interests; but everyone has a passion to roll up their sleeves and engage in some activity.
SM: Everybody here has a commitment to Idyllwild. People come here for different reasons. But all are here. In your unique way, you’re the heart and soul of the community.
In the 3rd District, Riverside County and Orange County, Idyllwild is special. It’s a diamond and jewel to be treasured. Thus, it is a major economic driver. You have given Riverside County a gift and they should be grateful.
Q. The Idyllwild area has no cohesive voice, which leaves us open to ambitious individuals. What is your opinion on forming a CSD [community service district] to be the voice of mountain residents?
CW: You have a CSA [County Service Area 36] which is an extension of the county, and you pay a tax to it. Your CSA is for recreation.
A CSD is most frequently associated with a city. For example, Murrieta and Temecula have CSDs.
In Temecula, the CSD provided services, even though the expenses exceeded the revenue. We [the Temecula council] funded the CSD out of general fund money. It amounts to several million dollars annually.
If you form a CSD here, and you’re free to form it, realize your decision would look like Valleywide Recreation.
You vote for what you want to pay and your vote decides.
SM: If that is what residents want, you decide to vote for it. If you’d like to do it, I’d have no dog in that fight. If you like to do it, do it.
Once you start, just realize the cost in Temecula. They’re asking for a 1-percent sales tax.
But make the decision as a community.
CW added: When you are seeking a voice for the community, there is a difference between the unincorporated areas and the cities. A CSD has a very singular purpose. It’s not necessarily a town or city. If you want a voice, as supervisor, I’ll listen to you.