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On The Issues: Auburn parks candidate Holbrook answers key questions

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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The November election gives Auburn residents the opportunity to choose two of five positions on the Auburn Recreation District board.

And the Journal is asking questions on key issues in the race for a seat on the parks board.

There are three candidates — incumbents Scott Holbrook and Jim Ferris, retired parks district employee Joe Fecko — on the ballot.

The Journal has reached out to the three for answers. Holbrook’s responses to questions appear in today’s edition.

Holbrook: There have been many things I have opposed that the ARD Board ultimately has agreed to do. 2 of the bigger ones were ARD Accepting responsibility for the Shockley Property & the Bell Rd Property - both supposed "gifts" one via a bequeath, the other via a PG&E Settlement. My reasons were that ARD has no funds to develop these properties, the use of the properties were heavily restricted, and tied our hands and would not necessarily allow us to ultimately develop what we or the community wanted or needed, and most importantly they would lead to long term liabilities. The Shockley Property costs us thousands of dollars a year to maintain, and basically we are just custodians of open space for a local neighborhood there are no funds or plans to develop this property, it just diverts money from other areas. After years of playing games & jumping hoops, not to mention spending a bunch of resources on the Bell Rd. Property, the board finally realized that it would be best to let this property go, I wish it was done much earlier.

Holbrook: 1) Ensuring we are strong focusing on long term fiscal viability. Dynamics of running a major organization these days are constantly changing, be it State and Federal mandates or the basic changes of cost of doing business. Decisions we make now, be it on staff, facilities or otherwise will have impacts for years to come. Ensuring we have proper mechanisms in place to plan, and save for future needs is critical. I am proud of our accomplishments in this area so far, but they are a constant priority.

2) Staffing - This is a constant challenge due to a variety of reasons, from recruitment to retirement. We are blessed to have an incredible overall team, but be it Facility and Grounds or day-care staff, we regularly are faced with needs to fill. Alas we can not just throw money at this issue, it is ensuring a good program is in place that includes marketing & recruitment strategies, pay & benefit packages, staff training & morale issues and more.

3) Meeting the wants and needs of an ever changing demographic and culture. Recreation is a broad term, and as the lead agency in providing it for the community we are constantly being requested to create new facilities and programs. Alas funding does not just allow us to grant these requests so staff, board & community need to all constantly work to at least come as close we can to a win-win. When I first came on board, Tennis & Skateboarding were priorities, more recently it has been Pickle Ball & Bike Parks . From Aquatics to Zumba this is a constant and evolving issue.

Journal: What would be your first priority if elected to the ARD board and why?

Holbrook: As an incumbent, there really is no 1st Priority that I can pinpoint, rather a continuation and building on projects, policies & otherwise that I have been involved with. I must say the completion of the Auburn Bike Park is something I am most excited about at this time.

Journal: Why should residents in the ARD vote for you?

Holbrook: I feel during my tenure on the board I have proven my commitment to being a steward of the public trust, realizing that the hard earned tax dollars we receive are not to be taken for granted, but rather to be respected & used with the utmost diligence. My leadership on this board had helped provide numerous new facilities & opportunities for the residents all working within our means. I have been the lead board member on things such as the Skate Board Park, Dog Park, Pickle Ball Courts, Disc Golf Courts, Bocce Ball Courts and of course the Bike Park. I personally have been responsible for raising 10's if not 100's of thousand dollars of cash & in-kind donations to the district in one way or another.

I am also very proud of the events I have taken the lead on creating, including Party in the Park, Community Festival, Food Truck Fiesta & AIn't Necessarily Dead Fest. Finally I feel I am one of the most accessible politicians out there, I always will take the time to respond to questions, concerns and criticisms. I work to resolve issues and focus on solutions. I never forget I serve at the pleasure of the citizens - it is an honor I constantly work to respect.

Journal: What are your qualifications for the job of ARD board member?

Holbrook: My qualifications are varied, I dare say I have had more "board" training than most all local "politicians", I constantly attend seminars and training, be it with the California Special District Association or otherwise. I have worked to stay current on new laws, be they changes from the Government Accounting Standards Board, Contracting practices, trends in recreation, ADA requirements and planning, budgeting and more. My experience as a successful small business man helps in multiple ways. Further I am out there in the community, educating myself and being accessible. I maintain an open mind, and feel I have no agenda other than doing the best I can to represent a diverse demographic.

Finally ARD's motto is "Family Fun in the Foothills" - I like to focus on fun, I dare say when it comes to fun I lead the pack of candidates....

Journal: Here are some basic questions for you to answer: Age? Family? How long in Auburn? Education? Elected office experience?:

Holbrook:  Age? Older than I used to be, but I feel young! Family? My number one Priority , I am a very lucky man How long in Auburn? Still considered a newcomer by life long residents, an old timer by new arrivals. Education? In Multiple ways. Elected office experience? Yes.