Betancourt describes herself as a local farmer, small business owner, and rural advocate who is from Shasta County.
Two women will appear on the Nov. 5 Special General Election ballot, both vying to represent District 1 in the California Assembly. Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt and Republican Megan Dahle both have backgrounds in agriculture.
Betancourt describes herself as a local farmer, small business owner, and rural advocate who is from Shasta County
Dahle is from Bieber. She is a farmer and runs a trucking company. Her husband, former Assemblyman Brian Dahle, was recently elected to the State Senate and Megan is running to replace him.
The District 1 Assembly position is one of 80 in the state and covers everything from Placer County to the Oregon border, including the entirety of Siskiyou County.
Below are Betancourt’s responses to a series of interview questions regarding her background and vision if elected to the State Assembly.
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers hopes to feature Dahle’s responses to the same questions in the coming weeks before the Nov. 5 election.
Questions and answers
Q: What are your qualifications and background, including other offices you have held and experiences that will assist you in the Assembly?
I’m a small business owner and farmer, and have spent my career as a rural advocate for our local communities. My husband and I have a small farm in Happy Valley and for seven years have provided food to dozens of families in the region, and annually mill the fruit of our heritage olive trees to make oil.
We have experienced the challenges of any small business, including struggling with capital availability, skilled workers, and outlets for our produce. We have also struggled with the state’s regulations, which are structured largely for large conventional agriculture and don’t respect the important role that small farms play in our regional economy as well as the natural world.
For nearly 20 years I have focused my professional career on advocating for our rural communities through ensuring healthy forests and watersheds. I’ve served on the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District Board for five years, one as our Board’s Vice Chair. I have also served on Redding’s Community Development Advisory Committee, hearing from many of our important non-profit service providers in the region and providing recommendations to the City Council for how to spend federal grant funds to best serve our friends and neighbors. These years of public service have allowed me a broader understanding of community values and how we work together to achieve common goals for our north state.
I have worked with state policy and how it affects our federal forest system, and the variety of approaches to ensuring that all beneficiaries are part of planning and funding our healthy forests and watersheds. I’ve done a significant portion of this work as an advocate to the California Legislature, building bridges with urban areas and other rural districts and advocating for investment in our rural landscapes.
Q: What separates you from the other candidate?
I am uniquely qualified to deal with the legislative majorities in Sacramento to get things done for the north state, and have nearly two decades of experience in the issue areas at the forefront of our regions’ future: forest health and water supply. As our next assembly member, I will carry north state values to Sacramento to advocate for us – north state families, communities, our industries, and our small businesses.
I am authentic, honest, and transparent, and I look forward to working with all residents in AD1 toward a brighter future for all of us. I’m a new voice for our rural region, and will bring new ideas to bolster our economy, grow our educational opportunities, and protect our rural values. I approach policy making with years of experience and the knowledge that a positive impact requires a positive approach. I will bring the voice of experience to the table through my own and my constituents’ voices: it takes all of us to get as much work done as is needed, and looking to create a better future means that all of us must be included in the solution.
For all of these things, we need a government that works for people, enhancing their life rather than getting in the way. My experience in working with stakeholders will allow me to negotiate effectively to ensure continued and increased investment in our communities.
Lastly, I’m not afraid of the tough issues, and am ready to talk through all of our highest priorities, be it the drive behind the obtaining good representation for our far northern region or the challenge of getting your neighbor to effectively create defensible space. I’m not afraid to do the hard thing to make our region a better place.
Q: What is your motivation to run for this office?
I want to create opportunities for rural communities and rural people, and ensure that our places have a future that is viable, robust, and as rich as our past. And, I want to provide our region with the dedicated, effective, and experienced representation it deserves in Sacramento.
I will bring the voice of experience to the table through my own and my constituents’ voices. Successful outcomes will take all of us working towards a solution. Much of my work in this region has involved collaboration between unconventional partnerships: tribes, timber companies, recreation advocates, and water suppliers. We all care about the same things, at our core: clean air, drinkable water, an economy that allows us to make a real living in these beautiful places, and a landscape and society we can be proud to leave for our children.
Q: What do you value most about living in the north state?
Our north state is beautiful: this time of year is my favorite, with the change in seasons, harvest of a variety of produce, processing meat for the winter, and buckling down for winter. The fact that so many people up here have gardens, hunt, or otherwise feed themselves and their families builds a common understanding and greater collective appreciation of our reliance on the world around us.
I am also continually amazed at how generous our community is. As one of the regions with the greatest socio-economic struggle our neighbors continually impress me with their generosity of time, money, and spirit and ensuring that we all make it through together.
While still not as affordable as we should be, the north state continues to be one of the most affordable regions of the state. I deeply value the increased accessibility to housing and property, and very much hope to increase accessibility to all. Owning a home, growing a garden, and building our region together is one of the most important things a government can encourage for long-term community stability, and one of my priorities as your future assemblyperson.
Q: What are the special values you see held by people living in the north state that cut across political boundaries?
Running a small farm operation, I know that self-discipline and hard work can make all the difference between success and just getting by. Those are the values I see in my neighbors and the values I will stand by as I serve: hard work, integrity, optimism, faith, liberty, and equity.
The north state quality of life depends on us and the choices we make today. We need a voice for the North State and our values – that is why I’m running for assembly. If the next generations of our North State – our children and grandchildren – are going to have the same quality of life we enjoy and an even better standard of living, we must advocate for our region and our values now.
Q: What are your hopes and vision for a better future for all citizens of the district?
We must invest in the stability and sustainability of our communities, and that means increasing affordability by increasing housing stock and access to affordable housing throughout California. Everyone should have a safe place to lay their head at night.
Building on this, we must increase access to education throughout our rural District. This might mean online courses (which must mean increased broadband availability and performance!), but should also mean innovation in the provision of public education where it makes sense and best serves our young people. This also must include the provision of technical training and higher education options for young adults and those looking to change their career track: investing in our community colleges to ensure that those options exist, are financially feasible for everyone, and provide training in areas that serve this district.
Once our friends and neighbors have the housing and education they need, we absolutely must ensure that there are jobs available at all levels of technical and professional levels. The greater diversity we have in our rural economy, the better equipped we are to address the coming challenges of climate change, technological development, and societal changes we can’t yet envision. Ensuring that jobs are available at all levels and in industries specific to our region – forestry, technology, healthcare, and education – will help us adapt to a changing future.
Access to high-quality and affordable healthcare is a must. Rural regions most often experience the unintended consequences of large-scale policy, and creating special policy incentives for rural healthcare providers – including local clinics and primary care physicians! – is a high priority for me.
To address these issues, we must embrace conservation and stewardship. Conservation and stewardship mean that we preserve, protect, and grow the things we care about. Our resources of land, water, and air all need our protection so that our communities and economy are sustainable and successful for today’s generation of North State residents and those to come. We must conserve our financial and human resources – and our entrepreneurial small businesses. Our leaders must be good stewards of creation and good stewards of the budget and the public trust we put in them.
With these foundational elements in place, we will better be able to take on the challenges of climate change that are so very real for our rural communities. Incentivizing the industries of adaptation, including renewable energy, forest health, and watershed management, will not only help our region adapt to new conditions, but will help our communities to thrive in the face of these challenges.