Republican Central Committee hosts candidate forum

Nick Ceaglio, Lassen County Assessor candidate
Kerri Cobb, Lassen County Supervisor candidate
David Evans, Lassen County District Attorney candidate
Edward Fitzhenry, Lassen County Assessor candidate
Tom Hammond, Lassen County Supervisor incumbent
Carrie Insley, Lassen County Assessor candidate
Brian Moore, Susanville
City Council candidate
Mendy Schuster, Susanville City Council incumbent
David Williams, Lassen County District Attorney candidate

Nearly every candidate running for local office in the Tuesday, June 5 Primary Election appeared at the Lassen County Republican Central Committee’s Candidate Forum held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at the Monticola Club.

Dr. Jim Hodge served as the moderator of the traditional event, and each candidate made an opening statement and then answered the same questions.

Here are comments from their opening statements.

Lassen County Assessor

All three candidates running for the Lassen County Assesso’s seat, Nick Ceaglio, Edward Fitzhenry and Carrie Insley — currently work in the assessor’s office.

Fitzhenry said the accuracy of the assessor’s rolls provide the funding for city and county governments, school districts and other public agencies. He said he has 13 years experience as a certified property tax appraiser. He moved to Lassen County in 2013 to assume responsibility as the senior appraiser in the office. In 2017 he became the chief appraiser, where he has reduced waste and increased efficiency. He also has 10 years experience in the restaurant, hospitality and elder care industry. He also has served locally as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical responder.

Ceaglio said he was born and raised in Lassen County, and for almost four years he has worked as an associate appraiser. He said for 15 years he was a senior systems engineer for the U.S. Air Force where he gained budget preparation and management experience. He said the assessor needs to be a team leader. He said his paramount goal is to ensure residents pay their fair share and no more. He noted the office has lost six employees with more than 11 years experience on the job.

Insley, a small business owner, serves as the administrative assistant in the office. She said she sees issues with personal property assessments, such as farm equipment that is no longer being used or assessments on business property that is actually personal property. She said she has all the data, and she’s running to apply practical applications to these problems.

Lassen County Supervisor

Two of three candidates running for the Lassen County District 5 Supervisor seat — incumbent Tom Hammond and challenger Kerri Cobb — appeared at the forum.

Hammond said the county has never recovered from changes at Sierra Army Depot and the mill in 1997. He said he’s made two trips to Washington, D.C. to protect the depot, which contributes more than $100 million to the local economy annually, and he’s created significant relationships with Washoe County and Washington. He said he’s created the first public-private partnership at the depot (a $7 million solar array) he said will generate $60,000 to $70,000 in property taxes annually. He said the barracks have just been purchased and will be converted into 130 apartments in Herlong.

He said he’s also working to improve Highway 395 for the depot, economic development and public safety.

“Things are just starting to turn,” Hammond said. “It’s been a four-year effort.”

Cobb said she’s running because as a life-long resident, she loves where she lives. She said the county faces economic challenges that can be overcome by working together. She said she plans to create a community council in District 5 so she can work with community members in each town in the district that covers about half of the county. She said by working together challenges can be turned into opportunities. She said the county needs a strategic plan that provides a vision and a mission.

“Leadership is taking people to places they would not go on their own,” Cobb said.

Susanville City Council

Two of three candidates running for two seats on the Susanville City Council — incumbent Mendy Schuster and challenger Brian Moore — appeared at the forum.

Moore said he was born in Susanville and has lived here his whole life. He’s worked at Diamond Peak Boys Home for more than 20 years. He said he’s running for the city council because he sees all the closed businesses on Main Street and the closed mill and we haven’t done anything to replace them. He said there is not much for kids to do here, and he wants to change that. He wants to create more economic development and give residents an opportunity to spend their money here instead of Nevada. He’s met with the chief of police and fire chief to discuss their needs.

Schuster said she was born in Susanville and attended school here. Prior to her retirement, she worked at both Lassen High and Lassen College. She was appointed to the council in April 2017, and she said she’s responsible for major changes during the past year. She said the protection of citizens, preserving the integrity of our neighborhoods and Susanville’s successful future are her priorities. She said she’s pushing the council for a solid economic development plan and hiring procedures that keep the city out of litigation. But she said there is still much she needs to do.

Lassen County District Attorney

Two of three candidates for the Lassen County District Attorney seat — David Evans and David Williams — appeared at the forum.

Evans said he is the only prosector running for district attorney. He said he has experience managing a variety of retail stores. While in law school, he worked as a clerk for the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office where he wrote and argued motions and appeared in court. He said he fell in love with Lassen County when he applied for a job here. He said he wanted his kids to grow up in a small town like he did — in a place that valued honesty, our rights and what’s right and what’s wrong. In 11 years, he said he’s worked every type of crime from traffic to murder. He said the county is experiencing an increase in violent crime., property crimes and a drug epidemic. He said he wants to continue to battle these problems and send some drug dealers to face state or federal charges.

Williams said his politically incorrect opening statement had absolutely nothing to do with the office of district attorney, but it offers an insight into his core beliefs and how he will honor his campaign promises. He said he obtained a hunting license at the age of 12, and the problems with guns today stem from the moral decay of our society, not access to weapons. He cited violent video games, and children with inadequate supervision as symptoms.

He said the availability of pornography may lead to failed marriages and a lack of respect for young women who are taught they must look “sexy” if they’re to be popular. He said the root cause of our country’s moral decay is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the separation of church and state. While he said he favored that separation and no offical state religion, there should not be a separation of God and state. He said the founders intended America to be a Christian nation, and unless the country regains its moral footing, its decay will continue until it’s but a footnote in the annals of history.

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