This story is the last in a series of profiles about the candidates running for the District 1 Senate seat. Candidates include Democrat Silke Pflueger and Republicans Rex Hime, Kevin Kiley, Theodore Dziuba and Brian Dahle. A second Democratic candidate, Steven Baird, recently dropped out of the race. All five profiles can be found at our website, siskiyoudaily.com

Assemblyman Brian Dahle said he is against dam removal, believes properly managing forests is vital to reduce wildfire risk and will fight excessive regulations to lighten the burden on small business owners.

Having served in the state assembly for two terms, Dahle has now set his sights on the District 1 Senate seat that’s up for grabs in a special primary election March 26.

Dahle points to his experience as a farmer and small business owner as reasons he would make an ideal state senator. He began his political career serving as a Lassen County Supervisor for 16 years and when he left, the county was debt-free, he said.

Dahle was elected to the assembly in 2012 and in 2017, he became Assembly Republican Leader where he worked to prevent tax hikes, opposed making California a sanctuary state and “protected the second amendment and private property rights.”

“My record earned me 100 percent ratings from the California Taxpayers Association and California Police Chiefs Association,” he added.

Dahle said he “knows too many families struggle to pay for health care and that rural communities suffer from a lack of quality health care options,” so he is working to reduce health care costs by improving preventative care. He said he’s “proud to have worked across party lines to prevent six northstate hospitals from closing.”

Dahle said he supports career training programs so young people can find good paying jobs without leaving their communities and has worked to make college more affordable for veterans.

According to his website, briandahle.nationbuilder.com, Dahle founded two local businesses and currently owns and manages Big Valley Seed. He and his wife, Megan, have three children and live in Bieber.

Q&A with the candidate

The Siskiyou Daily News interviewed Dahle via email and asked him some questions that are of specific interest to Siskiyou County residents.

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

I’m against dam removal. Even the state’s own water-quality assessments make clear that releasing 15 million tons of sediment down the Klamath River will have serious impacts on the very river and fisheries that dam removal is supposed to enhance. At this point the question is in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If FERC does allow the dams to be dismantled, it is absolutely critical that the many community impacts be fully mitigated.

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

We obviously have a severe problem. A century of stopping every fire we could has left us with catastrophically overgrown forests prone to uncontrollable wildfires.

I’ve been pushing hard to reform how we manage California’s forests since the day I was sworn into the Assembly. We’ve made a lot of progress in streamlining regulations that prevent landowners from cost-effectively thinning their forests, and legislation last year steers a billion dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade fund toward forest health and fuel reduction. That means less money for high-speed rail and more for thinning brush.

Unfortunately, some of our biggest hurdles remain on the federal lands. It’s critical the state and the U.S. Forest Service work together as partners to make our landscapes healthier and our communities safer and to prevent summers of endless smoke.

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

Better job opportunities so families can thrive in the county. In practice, that means better use of the county’s abundant but neglected natural resources, as well as investment in broadband so we have the infrastructure for the jobs of the future.

Q: Do you visit Siskiyou County often?

Every year I accompany a group of fellow legislators to Siskiyou County on the forestry tour organized by the Klamath Alliance for Resources and the Environment. Getting urban lawmakers out in the woods and showing them what real forest management looks like goes a long way toward dispelling the myths and misinformation that too often shape policy.

I’ve also been on a number of water-related tours and held townhalls and attended community events.

And I have a lot of personal ties. My grandfather homesteaded on a farm in Siskiyou County, and I’m still often on the road delivering seed or hay to fellow farmers. And as the father of two athletic teenage boys, I’ve enjoyed many a night in the stands at football and basketball games in Weed, Dunsmuir, Dorris and Tulelake.

Q: What is your favorite location in District 1?

There are more beautiful places than I can count in this amazing region of California, but my personal favorite is the family farm in Muck Valley.

Q: Do you support the State of Jefferson movement?

The Jefferson movement is right that rural California is badly underrepresented and outvoted in state government, and it would be fantastic for the North State to have the California Senate apportioned by counties as it once was. Unfortunately, I don’t see a viable political path in the Legislature for creating a new state.

What we can do is always focus on promoting local control and greater local authority instead of one-size-fits-all solutions from Sacramento that just don’t work for rural communities. Even urban lawmakers recognize that California is a big and complex state with diverse needs across its various regions.

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

For our forests, we need 20-year stewardship contracts with the Forest Service that will give investors enough confidence in the future that they’ll build new mills. I’ve worked with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to promote this plan.

In our towns, we need to continue promoting broadband investment so our smaller communities aren’t left further behind. I worked hard to pass Assembly Bill 1665 in 2017, which encourages telecom companies to invest in California’s unserved rural communities, but we need to do a lot more.

And for business owners – in Siskiyou County and elsewhere – one of the biggest challenges is finding and keeping well-trained employees. Unfortunately, over the years our education system has neglected career and technical programs. We need to do a lot more to invest in career education at the high schools and community colleges.

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

Since wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies during the Clinton administration, they’ve multiplied and spread across the West – including into California. It makes no sense that wolves have been delisted in eastern Oregon but are subject to strict protections when they cross the border into California.

It was very disappointing when the California Fish and Game Commission chose to list the wolf as endangered under state law, and it is frustrating the courts recently upheld that decision despite a legal challenge from the California Cattlemen’s Association. Ranchers need the tools to protect their livestock from predators, and the current listing unfairly ties their hands. I hope it is lifted soon – not so all the wolves are killed, but so wildlife wardens and ranchers can work together as partners to manage the inevitable conflicts.

The election

The District 1 Senate seat became available when Ted Gaines took his position on the State Board of Equalization, which he won in the November 2018 general election.

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.