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Our View: Jennifer Montgomery top pick for District 5 race

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The Auburn area and the newly redistricted District 5 has what it needs in a supervisor candidate with Jennifer Montgomery.
The district includes Auburn, Meadow Vista, Christian Valley, Applegate, Foresthill, Colfax and extends over to Tahoe City, Homewood and Kings Beach.
Montgomery has served her constituents fairly and openly during her first four years as supervisor. She’s stayed connected by attending a multitude of local meetings to voice her input and that of her constituents.
She shows no signs of slowing down.
Here’s where she lies on important county issues:
• Regional sewer: She supports a regional sewer plan based on projections that the long-term benefits to committing to such a plan will outweigh the short-term lower cost of upgrading the current waste water treatment plant in North Auburn. To get to that decision, Montgomery said she consulted friends on California state water boards and looked at the projected costs. She said spreading out the overall cost of wastewater among the region’s ratepayers will help with any increases or upgrades the main plant has to pay for.
The 23-year Donner Summit resident said the economies of scale hit home when her town did a sewer upgrade of their own. She said the drastically higher total annual cost of her sewer and water bill helped her come to her decision to support a regional plan.
• Middle Fork project: Montgomery believes the county should wait to see whatever money it will get from the Middle Fork relicensing project before making any plans to spend it. She said supervisors should then work to figure out an appropriate use, whether it be on infrastructure, jail realignment, sewer rates or other important matters.
On other issues, Montgomery said it will be important for county probation department to identify which low level offenders that are not threats to society can be placed on ankle monitors or other forms of tracking to help with jail realignment.
She said wildfire management is another top issue for District 5.
As the county narrows its search for a new executive officer, Montgomery said someone with experience in California and with a good vision to move forward in tough economic times are important. She was also the only District 5 candidate to mention the pay of the new CEO and said she wants them to earn less than recently retired CEO Tom Miller’s final salary of $247,412.
Montgomery, who has raised just over $37,000 for her campaign, has strong challengers for the seat in Richard Johnson, Jerry Johnson and Gary Johnson. Mark Wright, a Colfax resident, is running a grassroots campaign. He did not return a request to meet with the Journal’s editorial board.
Richard Johnson, a 26-year resident of Auburn, has strong ties to the community and has served various commissions and boards, including the Placer County Agriculture Commission for 12 years and the Placer County Planning Commission for six.
His background in forestry and 20 years spent managing the forestlands of the Tahoe National Forest also make him familiar with the sprawling District 5. He has raised just over $6,600 for his campaign.
He wants a regional sewer plan and thinks Middle Fork project monies should be in a reserve fund until the best use is decided. He also identified the need for tourism marketing, bringing businesses into the Auburn airport, supporting businesses hit with American with Disabilities lawsuits and jail realignment as other issues for the district.
Jerry Johnson has long-term experience as a developer and working with local law enforcement. The 35-year Meadow Vista resident served with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and upon retirement was sworn in as a reserve detective with the Auburn Police Department. His work in the cold case unit helped lead to a conviction of former Placer Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Kovacich, who was found guilty of the murder of his wife, Janet, 27 years after her death.
Jerry Johnson agrees with a regional plan and says he proposed an oversized pipeline for the Applegate area when he first built Winchester. He was turned down then but now the county is talking about possibly upsizing the line, he says. He suggests Middle Fork money go to the regional sewer project but believes it should be put in an account first before being spent.
Creating jobs by easing regulations on small business and keeping the area’s youth from moving away from the area because they cannot afford it are other priorities for Jerry Johnson. He also said he believes the budget should be prioritized based on needs and public safety should be No. 1.
He has raised about $3,900 for his campaign and loaned it $20,000.
Gary Johnson, who is keeping his campaign below $1,000, has lived in Weimar for 10 years and has served more than a decade on school boards in Sonoma and in the Placer Hills School District. He worked as a senior investigator for the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs for 29 years.
Gary Johnson said he favors upgrading the North Auburn wastewater treatment plant because it’s less costly and it’s a tough economy to do a large project, such as the regional plan. He also supports putting Middle Fork money in a rainy day fund.
He said supporting small business, connecting recent graduates with jobs and monetizing a county recycling program are other top issues for the district.
District 5 voters are fortunate to have more than one good candidate to choose from in this race.
However, Montgomery has proven herself in her first four years and has earned the chance for another four years to work on behalf of District 5 constituents.