Dunsmuir council candidate Bruce Deutsch believes government can 'make the world better'

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Bruce Deutsch

Retired U.S. Navy Commander Bruce Deutsch “grew up with a love and fascination with government as a way to make the world better.” That’s why he wants voters to elect him to another term on the Dunsmuir City Council.

Deutsch, a Dunsmuir resident since 2008, first became involved in city business when he volunteered to serve on the Walter Rate Study task force. “Six months later, in 2015 when  a vacancy opened on the council, I was appointed to the council to fill that vacancy,” he said. Deutsch was later appointed to the council again in 2016.

“While folks like to look at our community as a small town, we need the support of a wide variety of agencies and both state and federal governments in order to survive and thrive,” said Deutsch.

During his years on the Dunsmuir City Council, Deutsch  said he’s “played key roles in bringing over $15 million in grants and low interest loans” to the city. He’s a commissioner on the county’s Local Transportation Committee; acts as the chair of the council’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee; and was elected to be the president of the COS Foundation Board of Directors. He’s also the president of the Siskiyou County Resource Collaborative board of directors.

Although he  has been retired for years, Deutsch still believes in what he was brought up to believe. “With my pension to support me I could stay home relaxing. Instead, I spend my time trying with all my might to make Dunsmuir and our larger community a better place,” he said.

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Deutsch’s father served in the U.S. Army after WWII and spent 35 years as an Illinois State Trooper. His younger brother also retired as a Navy Admiral. 

Deutsch has a BA in Government from the University of Notre Dame. A heart attack and retirement prospects eventually led him to the town of Dunsmuir.

“Twice in my career, I had the opportunity to manage extraordinary digital transformations. Later I shaped the digital transformations of Fortune 500 corporations,” said Deutsch. 

After the “ bubble burst,” Deutsch decided to become a teacher. “I taught high school social studies for six years before having a heart attack in 2008. That fall, I moved to Dunsmuir.”

Q&A with the candidate

Deutsch answered a series of questions via email.

Q: What are your main goals if elected?

A: My two main goals if elected would be to 1) solve our housing crisis, and 2) grow our city economically beyond tourism.

Back in the day, Dunsmuir was the largest city in the region, based on the railroad and the mills. When those left, we never replaced them as economic engines. We have learned all too well how tourism can't be counted on alone if we are going to survive and thrive. The fires of 2018 (while I was Mayor) and this year's virus have shown us how tenuous tourism dollars are. If we are to once again become a thriving community, we have to aggressively promote a new source of revenue.

That is why I have focused on making this city attractive to remote workers & their families, as well as to small tech companies. This has never been more promising than this year, when the tech world has learned that it can operate with workers working remotely.  But we can't bring those remote workers and their families here if we don't have places for them to live.

Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development in the City of Dunsmuir?

A: In 1964, when the County gave the Dunsmuir-Mott Airport to the city, they also gave over 70 acres of land to the east of the airport. Most old-timers assumed that that land was controlled by the FAA and could not be used for anything else. I pushed to see if that was correct, and it wasn't. We are now working to turn that land into an industrial park, bringing both revenue & JOBS to our city. One promising lead could even bring a Green Waste processing center to that park. This could be a major development in our economic growth.

When I think of economic growth, I think of our schools. They were once full and bustling. Today, our student population is a pale comparison to decades past. We need jobs. We need housing. I am confident that we can solve our problems, and that  Dunsmuir's best days lie ahead.

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Q: In what ways could the city council support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: As a Naval Officer, I was marinated in science. I am convinced that the only way we are going to make it through this pandemic is if we adequately protect ourselves on our front lines. Science says the best way to do that is through social distancing and wearing face masks. As a small city we are not capable of enforcing a mandatory face mask ordinance because we would be unable to adequately enforce such an ordinance. We do not have the law enforcement manpower to do that. 

As a result, the city did what it could by passing a resolution that simply encourages mask wearing. From the council's standpoint, that was all we could do. But as a civic leader, I can add my voice to those who are working as hard as they can to encourage all to wear a mask when in public.

Q: Do you support the 1.5 cent sales tax to help Dunsmuir shore its budget, or do you have other ideas to do so?

A: One of the things I am proudest of when it comes to our city council is that we have concentrated on being transparent and on educating our citizens to why we must do the onerous task of raising additional revenue. You can look online and see not only past budgets, but also our new two-year budget. You can listen to the council meetings where we laid out the reasoning for the tax increase. And I will be pushing to hold a town hall to explain to everyone exactly why the increase is necessary.

The bottom line is that the cost of our policing is outpacing our revenue. Last year, we had to cut the number of hours the Sheriff's Department spends on patrol. If we don't get the increase the council has identified, more cuts in policing, as well as in other areas, will lie ahead.

I trust that, if given the facts, our citizens will make the very difficult decision to support the increase. The future of our community depends on it.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing Dunsmuir?

A: Beyond the ever-present threat of fire, the most pressing issue is housing. We must find a way to make way for a new generation of Dunsmuirians. And we must make it possible for people on fixed incomes to find homes.

There are things in the works that can bring solutions to the housing crisis. The Travelers Hotel is moving forward on a plan that will bring 28 condos to the city. We are still looking for someone with the finances to rebuild the House of Glass. 

I look forward to using my decades of experience to help solve our housing crisis.

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Dunsmuir?

A: Can't limit it to one thing. 

First of all, there is the incredible natural beauty of the canyon that is all around us. Next is the heritage. The people who founded the city long ago, and all the people who have come and gone since, have helped shape and sustain this community through numerous disasters and crises. And third, I do believe that Dunsmuir's best days still lie ahead. I believe that the spirit that sustained the city through all the challenges over our history is still alive, and waiting to be reawakened.