This is one of six profiles the Siskiyou Daily News has planned on the candidates running for the District 1 Senate seat on March 26. Candidates include Republicans Brian Dahle, Kevin Kiley, Theodore Dziuba and Rex Hime and Democrats Steve Baird and Silke Pflueger.

Senate candidate Silke Pflueger describes herself as an engineer, an immigrant, a breast cancer survivor and a leader. The Truckee resident is one of two Democrats in the running for the District 1 Senate seat on March 26.

Pflueger’s views differ from those expressed by Republican candidates on issues such as dam removal (she believes it would create jobs while helping the fisheries and eventually, farmers), the Jefferson movement (intriguing, she said, but it could exacerbate problems northern Californians face) and federal protection of wolves (she believes coexistence is key).

Pflueger said she is committed to enacting legislation that benefits all Californians and will work tirelessly to make healthcare affordable and accessible in rural areas. She also vows to uphold the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Pflueger said she wants to focus on fire resiliency and preparation “with timely consumer protection after disasters,” according to her website, silke4senate.com.

“The federal government owns and manages the vast majority of California’s forest, yet the U.S. Forest Service budget gets cut year after year, while the fire danger in our forests increases,” Pflueger said. Her goal is to “empower residents and communities to create defensible spaces.” She also plans to “fight for funding that goes directly to communities and residents to improve the health of our forests.”

Pflueger said she understands that climate change is real and will support measures to protect farming communities and the winter tourism economy.

She would also like to focus on affordable housing; job creation through affordable education, apprenticeship programs and a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math) education; infrastructure improvements beyond fixing potholes; and keeping California “on the current healthy fiscal track.”

Pflueger fell in love with the United States during a graduate internship in Connecticut. She moved to Michigan in 1994 and in 1997 moved to California.

She moved to Truckee in 2013 after “reevaluating her priorities” while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She was a co founder and co chair of Tahoe Truckee Indivisible, and has dedicated the past six years to political activism, “leading and organizing peaceful protests and marches, and canvassing for progressive candidates.”

Q&A with the candidate

Pflueger answered several questions of specific interest to Siskiyou County residents in an interview via email.

Q: What is your position on the proposed removal of four Klamath Dams?

First off – it’s a federal issue, with interests in both Oregon and California. A plan was developed with everybody’s input, and then stopped at the eleventh hour. However, the hydroelectric plants that benefit from the dams are outdated. Removing the dams would not just create jobs in salmon fisheries, it should also, as the flow is still controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation in Oregon, not have any impact on irrigation, and may in the long term help farmers.

Q: What is your take on wildfire protection for north state communities and what kinds of forest management do you support?

As a home owner in fire-prone areas for 20 years, fire resiliency, preparedness and recovery is one of my top three issues. My goal is to empower residents and communities to create defensible spaces and improve their communities' fire resiliency by boosting education and outreach to landowners to teach them on the most effective ways to reduce vegetation and other forest-fire fuel sources. Beyond education, I will fight for funding that goes directly to communities and residents to improve the health of their forests and create defensible space, creating safer environments as well as much needed rural jobs.

Q: What issues do you see as most pressing for Siskiyou County?

Aside from fire resiliency I see access to affordable healthcare as the most pressing issue. Siskiyou County, just like the Tahoe region, has a special situation where the best and closest healthcare provider is across a state border, but where the available ACA plans have horrendous deductibles for out of state care. I will fight for every Californian to get the healthcare they need, when they need it, and from the provider of their choice. Access to healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a basic human right. When faced with a serious illness, our first and only thoughts should be around how to become healthy, not how to pay for treatment. We cannot depend on a system where a GoFundMe is one of the main funding mechanisms for medical care of serious conditions, and where insurances encourage patients to beg for money.

Q: Do you visit Siskiyou County often?

I wish I did! I have fond memories of a Christmas that I spent in Mount Shasta some years ago, with a few friends of mine. We spent time hiking and skiing, and enjoying the town and the area. I am looking forward to visiting during my campaign, and many more when I represent the area.

Q: What is your favorite location in District 1?

District 1 has so many beautiful areas that it’s impossible to pick a favorite. When we moved to California we looked at getting a small cabin at the Oregon/California border, but the long drive from the Bay Area sadly put an end to the project before it started – and that’s how we ended up in Truckee.

Q: Do you support the State of Jefferson movement?

People are intrigued by it, but splitting the north into a separate state would not solve the economic issues, but probably make them worse. Even in Jefferson, rural interests would still be greatly outnumbered by urban interests. Mining, timber, farming and energy are mostly not under California control: most of the water and forests are federally controlled, and realistically nothing would change. We get more money from the state for roads, schools, hospitals, infrastructure than they would get if they broke away. What does not help is that our current Republican representatives are effectively shut out of government. I will fight for the district’s representation.

Q: Do you have any concrete ideas for stimulating the economy of Siskiyou County and the north state in general? What about attracting businesses to the area?

Slow or no internet access is a major hold-back for economic development in many of the rural areas of the district. I will advocate the building-out of high speed wired or wireless to all homes and businesses in the county. I will also push for a state university or college campus in Redding focused on green technologies, which will attract businesses and create jobs. Finally – I’ll protect the unions in California to ensure that workers are paid fair wages and have good working conditions.

Q: What is your position on the federal protection of wolves and their impact on Siskiyou County ranchers and farmers?

Coexistence is key, and wolves are part of our California neighborhood. In 2010, only 5 percent of livestock deaths were related to predators, and less than 4 percent of those were caused by wolves, for a total of 1 in 500 deaths. Yellowstone is a great example how the entire ecosystem improved after the reintroduction of wolves, resulting in a controlled elk population and improved water quality.

The election

Pflueger is one of six candidates for the District 1 senate seat recently vacated by Ted Gaines, who was elected in November to the Board of Equalization. The special primary election will take place March 26. If one of the six candidates gets a majority of the vote, there would be no need for a special general election in June.

If no single candidate is the clear victor on March 26, the top two candidates (whether Republican or Democrat) would duke it out on June 4 to represent District 1, which encompasses all of Siskiyou County and runs to the eastern edge of the state and south to the Lake Tahoe area. It wraps around the Sacramento Valley along the northern Sierra Nevada to the eastern Sacramento suburbs.