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Supe candidates talk job skills, sports, water fears

Forum in Auburn is leading to 5th District June 3 election showdown
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s three District 5 supervisorial candidates weighed in on everything from their job skills to the Auburn dam to the Olympics during a forum in Auburn. Serene Lakes business owner Jennifer Montgomery and Meadow Vista businessman Bob Houston are challenging incumbent Supervisor Bruce Kranz of Weimar for the chance to represent the sprawling, mountainous eastern Placer County area over the next four years. The three will have their names on the ballot June 3, with two outcomes possible — either a single candidate winning the seat after polling a majority of votes, or the two leading candidates moving on to the November election if no one garners more than half of the votes. Kranz, who has served the past four years as supervisor, noted that his experience in state and county government has been an asset during his term. Kranz is a retired state parks superintendent with 33 years of service. Fifteen years on the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission, which provides direction on city-county annexation issues, gives him a clear indication of the planning process, he added. Houston, a Sacramento lobbying firm owner, said that his 40 years of experience in the state Capitol, has led him to develop an understanding of how bureaucrats and politicians think. Over the years, that understanding has helped bring money to many agencies, including Placer County, he said. Houston also mentioned “work ethic” as another attribute, saying that he was raised on a ranch as a kid during the Depression at a time when hard work meant survival. Montgomery said “luck of geography,” in living on the Donner Summit allows her greater opportunity to gain perspective from constituents on both sides of the summit. “I can get to either side of the 5th District with ease,” Montgomery said. She added that as a small business owner, she has a handle on budget issues while developing a rapport with both employers and employees. The three were speakers at a pre-election “Eggs & Issues” forum Thursday at The Ridge in North Auburn organized by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by First Northern Bank. On the Auburn dam, Kranz and Houston said that while the issue has been shunted to the background, protecting water rights from Southern California interests is a real concern they would be vigilant on. Montgomery said that with global climate change, county leaders need to look at conserving water and using it more efficiently. All three were in agreement that the county should continue to consider an Olympic Games bid for the area with other regional government entities. Houston described the Olympics as a “great economic tool.” Kranz said a first step would be to establish a museum honoring Squaw Valley’s 1960 role as games host. Montgomery said she favored a bid but had concerns about how transportation would be handled. “We’re at gridlock there quite often already,” she said. An audience of about 40 attended the forum. Meadow Vista resident Richard Hall said he liked Kranz’s emphasis on fire prevention and was also impressed with Houston’s background in working with people to build a consensus. Mike Hickey, a Montgomery supporter from Christian Valley, said he’s concerned about Kranz’s stance on development issues, particularly at Royal Gorge and in Foresthill. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at auburnjournal.com.