Election 2020: Candidates compete in 3 rural districts facing COVID, wildfire, water issues
Shasta County voters who live in three districts have until Nov. 3 to decide who they want to represent their communities.
There are three community services district races on the ballot. All are located in rural areas, but their circumstances differ.
- Those who win seats on the Igo-Ono Community Services District board must deal with pressing issues created by the Zogg Fire.
- Mountain Gate Community Services District board members will likely need to replace infrastructure integral to the area's water services.
- Those elected to the Mayers Memorial Hospital District board will face problems associated with providing health care to a growing rural community during the pandemic.
Here is a list of who is running and the primary issues facing those who win seats.
Who is running in Igo-Ono?
Four candidates are running for three seats on the Igo-Ono Community Services District in southwest Shasta County.
- Alan Tucker of Igo is an equipment mechanic and rancher.
- Charles Tucker of Igo is an incumbent who has served on the council since 1998.
- Michael Spencer of Igo is an appointed incumbent.
- John Paul Moore Jr. of Igo is an appointed incumbent.
Urgent issues facing the district stem from restoration needs in Zogg Fire burn areas.
The Zogg Fire — which burned through the district on Sept. 27 and 28 — filled a 17-mile ditch in the area with debris, incumbent Charles Tucker said. Compounding the problem, the district's excavator was destroyed in the fire.
A primary concern for the district is getting water running again, and keeping it flowing, to homes and businesses post-fire, Tucker said.
If rain is heavy this winter, erosion in burn-scarred areas could cause problems like flooding, landslides or washing debris into Rainbow Lake.
That concern is relates to another issue: Repairs needed to the 100-year-old Misselbeck Dam spillway.
In November, 2019, the district was in a state of emergency after debris blocked 30-inch pipes in the dam. Those blockages forced water levels in Rainbow Lake to rise, and excess water to pour over a spillway state officials deemed unsafe.
By February, the pipes were unclogged and the lake dropped to a safe level, but district officials voiced concerns that debris could block up again and lake water could overtop the dam and possibly cause it to fail.
Should post-fire debris flow into Rainbow Lake, it could increase that risk.
Who is running in Mountain Gate?
Six candidates are running for three Mountain Gate Community Services District seats.
- Donald Kerns served as the Mountain Gate community fire chief for more than 20 years and is a retired paramedic.
- Kay Kobe is a chiropractor with an office in Shasta Lake.
- Katie Mason has been a firefighter for 16 years. She teaches fire science at College of the Siskiyous.
- David Selby joined the fire department in 1963, eventually serving as fire chief for seven years.
- Michael Stierle is an engineering building contractor.
- Karrie Walter is a firefighter and first responder.
A primary issue facing this area — centered about 10 miles north of Redding — is updates to infrastructure. In 2020, the board applied for about $9 million in grant monies to fund the replacement of old and undersized water lines, and to build more fire hydrants.
"Much of our water is supplied from Shasta Lake, (and) at times we rely on pumping water from the district’s 3 wells," candidate Kay Kobe said. "It's imperative to keep the treatment facilities and infrastructure well maintained and — replaced and updated (as needed).
Other issues include rising water bills and providing water to residents spread out over the district; and how best to fund fire prevention and safety including possible programs to assist residents living on lower incomes clear brush off their properties.
Who is running for Mayers Memorial Hospital District?
There are three seats on the Mayers Memorial Hospital District for which four candidates are running.
- Incumbent Laura Beyer is a strategic and risk management advisor with experience working for nonprofit and government organizations.
- Tom Guyn of Burney is a physician who practiced internal medicine for 33 years.
- Jerry "Abe" Hathaway is an incumbent.
- Tami Vestal Humphry is a rancher and business manager.
This district includes the towns of Burney, Fall River Mills and McArthur. It straddles Shasta, Modoc and Lassen counties.
The board faces ongoing challenges associated with governing a rural medical facility: Balancing the hospital's budget while still recruiting and keeping skilled staff. That priority is echoed by all candidates.
A question facing future board members is how to keep the status quo while providing care to a growing rural community.
"We have stabilized the hospital’s financial position (while) added services, opened a new wing and (we are opening) our first clinic in Burney early next year," incumbent Jerry "Abe" Hathaway said.
Partnering with Mountain Valley Health Centers might help bridge gaps in coverage areas, candidate Tami Vestal Humphry said.
Maintaining "access to primary care, lab services, testing, hospital care and emergency room services will allow the hospital to match the growing needs of the community," candidate Tom Guyn said.
Shasta County in Purple Tier:What does purple tier mean for Shasta County residents and businesses? 'It's a tightrope to walk'
Another primary issue facing board members is dealing with COVID-19 and the fallout from it, incumbent Laura Beyer said. This includes helping residents access needed services.
Emergency preparation is also primary, said Beyer, who wants the district to partner with first response organizations to alert residents of emergencies.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.