"...she is someone who has a history of beating the odds." –The Sheet

"Another Chance to Meet the Candidates," The Sheet, April 30, 2022​

 

Bishop’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8988 hosted its third forum on Monday, April 18 for candidates running for Inyo County’s 3rd District Supervisor spot. Current Supervisor Rick Pucci, who has served three terms, announced that he would not seek reelection in January. The four candidates running to fill his position are Kody Jaeger, David Lent, Scott Marcellin, and Todd Vogel. Whoever wins the election will take office in January 2023.
 

There were around three dozen residents in attendance at the forum.
 

The questions were essentially the same as those given at the April 11 event for 1st District candidates, with the addition of one: “What would the candidate do to address the housing shortage in the county?”

 

Frankly, after years of watching and reporting on local politics and elections, it was refreshing to see local tribal members seek election to the Board of Supervisors (Jaeger and Lent are both tribal members). The county would be better served with a Board that actually represents its diverse demographics, and it has been a very long time since tribes have had an elected county Supervisor on the board.


First impressions of the candidates’ responses seemed to favor local businessman Todd Vogel, but to be honest, I found Kody Jaeger very impressive as well. And truth be told, all of the candidates, including David Lent and Scott Marcellin, brought something to the table. All of them are worth taking a second, even third, look at before making a final decision on who to vote for to replace Rick Pucci.


As noted in last week’s article on the 1st District’s forum, there is seldom any real difference between the responses of the candidates to the questions, but instead only in the length of their responses. Some are more articulate than others.


It did not help that many of the questions were confusing and phrased in such a way as to sound like they were written by the “choose freedom, not fear” crowd; this included catchwords and phrases associated with the anti-vaccine and anti-mask mandates, such as “freedom,” “mandates,” “upholding the Constitution” and “violation of citizens’ rights.”


And it would have been better for the voters to have a forum that wasn’t so
transparently biased toward a particular political agenda. The Veterans’ issues could have been much better presented as well, and they deserved better. On the other hand, thanks are in order to VFW Post 8988 for hosting this event.


On the additional question about the need for more housing in the county, Jaeger said that “everything is connected” and there is a “need for affordable workforce housing.” Lent expressed wanting an inventory of land to be used to build housing, and that a partnership with the
tribes and their experience in providing housing to their tribal members might be helpful.

 

All of the candidates acknowledged the clear need for housing, including the assessments of available land, grant applications, and the need for collaboration between the tribes, City of Bishop, Town of Mammoth Lakes, Mono, and Inyo Counties, and larger federal and state agencies. The problem is that there is very little affordable private property available in either Inyo or Mono County.


All four candidates support the Constitution, veterans, the VSO, services for the elderly, and “public lands.” On the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one appeared to want to “armchair quarterback” the Board of Supervisors and county health officials. As to subsidizing commercial air service at the Bishop Airport, they largely all agreed in theory but wanted to assess the need and costs before committing to it.


One question piqued some curiosity from those in attendance because it was phrased as an apparent promo for District 4 Supervisor Jenn Roeser, regarding her role in the changes made to the Veterans Service Office. Readers may recall that two years ago, there were some significant problems between the VSO supervisor, Sheriff Hollowell, and the VSO representative surrounding the level and quality of service to local veterans in both Inyo and Mono counties.


The question implied that Supervisor Roeser was the main reason the VSO situation in 2020 was resolved. That, as someone pointed out, is simply a misrepresentation of fact; while it is true that Roeser did participate in voting and advocating for having the VSO moved. from the Sheriff’s Department as well as providing budget support towards hiring a VSO officer, Gordon Greene, she was only one of many people - others included all of the other district supervisors, county staff, late-former County CAO Clint Quilter, and the local veterans themselves.


Another notable observation was a comment by candidate Scott Marcellin who, towards the end of the forum, mentioned that the City of Bakersfield had sent a busload of homeless people to Inyo County when the county was dealing with its homeless issue (which it still has not resolved). The Sheet contacted several local agencies and researched the claim online. We could not find anything to substantiate his claim, although it mirrors comments made in the last election by a supervisor candidate and others on social media that Inyo County would become a “magnet for the homeless.”
 

The Sheet encourages our readers to watch the candidate forums whichare provided online at the VFW 8988 website. The Sheet has been providing coverage on all the candidates and their backgrounds and views for the past few weeks. With a little over a month to go to the Primary Election on June 7, hopefully, another local civics group might offer another forum to the candidates and voters.
 

For candidate profiles, visit www thesheetnews.com. Todd Vogel (Feb. 26), Scott Marcellin (March 5), Kody Jaeger (April 2), and David Lent (April 9).