02-08-24

18 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com of enhanced health and safety protections for farmworkers signed into law. As chair of the powerful Agriculture Committee and vice chair of the Latino Caucus, he wielded his influence on behalf of farmworkers and the ag industry both. In November 2022, Rivas announced that he had the votes to ascend to the speaker’s chair and in a slow, protracted and ultimately successful hostile takeover, he unseated the former Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and took the gavel in June. Rivas has now named the chairs of all the Assembly committees and he has put in place a young and progressive leadership team which may be in those positions of power alongside him as long as he remains speaker. With this authority, Rivas has the opportunity to shape the future of the state. His longstanding commitments to the environment, farmworkers and agricultural prosperity will make California better for all who call this place home. We think he deserves to be re-elected to get that accomplished. Dawn Addis for Assembly District 30 In her first two years in the Assembly, Dawn Addis has already proven to be an impressive legislator. A former special education teacher and city council member from Morro Bay, Addis has is a forceful and smart representative for the recently redrawn district which now includes parts of the city of Santa Cruz in the north, the entire Monterey Peninsula and the coastal region all the way south to Arroyo Grande and the inland expanses of San Luis Obispo County. As a rookie Assemblymember, Addis authored three housing bills that were signed by the governor—to increase funding for senior housing, eliminate red tape in building housing for community college students and protecting mobile home residents. Perhaps more significantly she boldly told a gathering of the Carmel Residents Association last fall that the tony town by the sea, just like Marina and Seaside, will have to meet its state mandates to increase housing, and specifically low-income housing. Addis has also assumed the leadership of the brand-new Central Coast Caucus in the Assembly and chairs a committee on wind power. Addis has done a commendable job getting to know the issues and people of Monterey County: She was in Pajaro last winter and helped to get state emergency funds released, helped secure funding for Elkhorn Slough to combat sea level rise and has taken an active role in Pure Water Monterey expansion. She writes that she is committed to getting clarity from the State Water Quality Control Board to determine if that expansion can lead to the lifting of the cease-and-desist order on the Carmel River. Yes on Proposition 1 Nobody in California, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, is going to tell you they’ve figured out exactly how to solve the thorny issues of mental health and homelessness. But Newsom is committed to trying big ideas, even if the solutions are many years in the making—these are not quick fixes. His latest proposal, Prop. 1, asks voters to authorize $6.4 billion in bonds that would be used to build facilities to treat people with mental illness who have substance abuse challenges, and to build housing for people with mental health and addiction challenges. Prop. 1 would shift a portion of Mental Health Services Act funds to the state, diverting some $140 million annually that currently goes to counties. For counties, the measure would mean less money and also less latitude on how to spend MHSA funds—some would be required to go to housing units. If passed, state officials estimate it would build enough beds for 6,800 people to receive mental health or drug/alcohol treatment at any given time, and build 4,350 housing units, with roughly half of those set aside for veterans. Like all of Newsom’s programs, it’s something, but far from everything. These numbers and a change in MHSA spending will not solve everything, nor do they promise to. But it’s a chance to solve some of the problem for some of the people— and that’s progress. Countywide Monterey County Board of Supervisors In talking to candidates for county supervisor, we were surprised by the range of optimism and cynicism expressed. Is the job simply to keep the doors of government open and fill potholes? Or is it a chance to tackle big issues, even if solutions are elusive? We understand that local government isn’t the vehicle to fix a lot of challenges. Economic headwinds and the cost of living, for example, are subject to global influence. The County of Monterey does deliver all sorts of services—it runs health clinics, a sheriff’s office and jail, handles natural disaster response and more. The Board of Supervisors is the government agency responsible for unincorporated areas, with responsibilities for filling potholes and the like. But the County Board of Supervisors also sets policy on big issues and, if willing to work collaboratively, can take on some of the most intimidating things: housing, health care, water supply and advancing equitable economic opportunity. We believe the next board will have the right mix of fresh perspectives and experienced supervisors to get big things done—if they’re willing to take them on. Luis Alejo for District 1 Luis Alejo calls this his “most enjoyable” role yet as he approaches his third term (unopposed) as county supervisor after serving in the State Assembly and on Watsonville City Council. “I really love this job,” he says, and it seems genuine—he is everywhere there is a crisis, eager to learn about the issue and propose a solution. (To some of his detractors this looks like opportunism, but we don’t blame him for being good at politics.) Alejo is good at politics, but also getting things done. During the devastating storms of winter 2022-23, he was out door-knocking in Pajaro to get the word out about evacuations. Since then, he’s advocated for a better-organized disaster response mechanism so government can step in instead of relying on volunteers. Alejo is interested in results. He’s also interested in doing what is politically expedient. For example, last fall he introduced a resolution expressing “We have big problems ahead of us that require real political will, especially housing and water supply,” says District 5 supervisor candidate Kate Daniels. “I want to give it a shot, and bring that attitude of not worrying about what people think about me. I really think there’s an opportunity for a different kind of leadership in Monterey County.” “We need leadership that is willing to bring all voices to the table.” Daniel Dreifuss

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