A new face for the 3rd District
Jessie Faulkner Staff Writer
Article Launched: 03/12/2008 01:25:56 AM PDT
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors race is on, with three of the five seats up for election, starting with the June primary.
The top vote-getters in races with more than two candidates will vie for the seats in November unless one hopeful receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
With 3rd District Supervisor John Woolley's recent announcement that he will not be seeking another term, the field is wide open -- and it remains so. Potential representatives have until the close of business today to file.
So far, three candidates are running: Humboldt Watershed Council President Mark Lovelace, Arcata City Councilman Paul Pitino and Environmental Systems Engineer Mike Wilson.
Second District incumbent Roger Rodoni faces former KMUD news director Estelle Fennell and Clendenen's Cider Works owner Clif Clendenen while 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith faces Ferndale dairyman John Vevoda.
This is the third story in a three-part series. Today's focus is on the 3rd District.
Mark Lovelace said he debated whether he would be more effective at the podium or at the dais before deciding to run for the 3rd District supervisor.
After moving to the area in 1989, Lovelace said his activism began with an effort to establish the Sunny Brae Forest in 2000 -- an undertaking that resulted in adding 175 acres to the Arcata Community Forest -- and meant more than 2,000 hours of volunteer time.
The Humboldt Watershed
Council was next and has been his employer from 2003 to present. Most recently, he has focused on Healthy Humboldt -- a project of the watershed council that has brought together a coalition of agencies to advocate for the protection of working land and open space in the county's ongoing general plan update.
Citing his professional accomplishments, Lovelace points to his efforts with the Sunny Brae forest. His mother, he said, is particularly proud of his selection as the Arcata Eye's 2002 Citizen of the Year.
Lovelace suggested an alternative approach to the much-needed economic development on the North Coast.
”We're approaching economic development as if our only strategy is a 'Hail Mary' pass,” he said. “We tend to focus on the idea that we need a large employer bringing in 300 jobs.”
Instead, the area is rich in small businesses doing great things. A preferable approach is to encourage establishment of those smaller enterprises, Lovelace said.
Lovelace also stressed the importance of looking at the whole picture -- instead of compartmentalizing issues.
As to skills, other than his interest and attention to the county issues, is a calmness and clarity in how he works.
”I really don't like making any kind of decision if I don't have my knowledge base,” Lovelace said.
That knowledge base, he said, comes not only from a dedication to doing his homework to listening to many constituents.
The truth is usually not at the extremes, Lovelace said, it's likely to be in the middle. The key is to the ability to be patient and discuss issues, particularly the divisive ones.
The biggest issue facing the 3rd District and all of Humboldt County, Lovelace said, is determining what we want the area to look like.
”We've done a good job on what we don't want,” Lovelace said. “We need to be equally clear on what we do want to see.”
With the 10 fastest growing counties in the state being rural counties -- not unlike Humboldt County -- there's the possibility of being overwhelmed, he said. The solution is being proactive.
Lovelace, a resident of Sunny Brae, has been married to Valorie for 15 years. They have a 14-year-old daughter, Abbey.
Arcata City Councilman Paul Pitino, an Arcata resident since 1993 and the father of three grown sons, has held a number of careers over the years from teaching children Spanish to designing control centers for high-rise buildings.
He's also made money as a millwright, factory worker, deli worker and currently works as a landscaper. His interest in politics may have started as a small child when he helped his father, the president of the postal union, hand out fliers.
As an adult, Pitino sampled the political waters while living in Ukiah and was a member of the city of Ukiah's solar access committee. He also worked on Dan Hamburg's anti-recall committee, when opponents tried to oust the former Mendocino County supervisor. Later on, after moving to the North Coast, Pitino was one of four people spearheading opposition to a 900-unit subdivision in the Arcata Bottom. He worked on another council candidate's campaign followed by his own successful effort to join elected body in 2004.
One of the accomplishments as a council member, he said, is bringing a balance to Arcata City Council in the form of a working class, lower-income perspective.
Pitino also said he tends to be a personable, approachable person with a good rapport with others of all economic classes from the homeless to business owners.
The candidate is opposed to campaign advertisements and endorsements. He is, however, spending a fair amount of time knocking on doors and talking with district residents.
Winning is a byproduct, what's really, really important is how you run the campaign, he said.
If that effort is successful, Pitino said one of his goals is to work to make the county a kinder, friendlier place -- in part by modeling such behavior whether it's opening doors for others, saying “hi” or picking up trash.
He's also adamant about improving public bus service -- specifically offering such service on Sundays. Doing that and improving the service overall, Pitino said, would be a shot in the arm for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid and, by association, everyone. It's an area in which Pitino said he has developed some familiarity with as the city of Arcata's representative to the Humboldt Transit Authority board of directors.
The ongoing issue of homelessness remains a challenge for the 3rd District, he said. Pitino said he's been studying how Portland, Ore. and Ukiah work with their homeless populations.
”If we can make life a little less of a hassle for the economic bottom part of society, it's good for everybody,” he said.
A native of southern Humboldt County, Mike Wilson has been a resident of Arcata since 1984 with a temporary move to San Francisco a few years later to finish his bachelor's degree in engineering at San Francisco State University. Following graduation, he worked for Bay Area-based international engineering firms before moving back to the North Coast to earn his master's degree in environmental systems engineering from Humboldt State University. That led to establishment of Wilson and his wife Laura's business, Humboldt Water Resources, an engineering consulting firm based in Arcata. Among their projects was United Indian Health Service's Potawot Village. Wilson also works part-time managing marketing for Carlson Wireless.
In the political realm, he's represented the 3rd District on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District for slightly more than two years.
Wilson is currently the vice president of the Friends of the Dunes board of directors and serves on the building committee for the organization's new nature center.
”I'm very excited about that,” he said.
As the 3rd District supervisor, Wilson said he would bring a fresh perspective -- adopting a practical approach to government. Part of that approach is bringing Humboldt County into the 21st Century in terms of infrastructure and, in particular, Internet redundancy. For the short term, he said, the preference is a microwave link while working to establish a second fiber optic link.
Wilson said he also wants to focus on connecting the area's existing skilled workforce to available employment. Humboldt State University is working in that direction, he said, and the county should support that effort.
As a parent of two young daughters, 1 and 7, Wilson said he is intimately aware of the importance of services to support families whether it's childcare or health insurance. The Board of Supervisors, he said, is responsible for making sure county programs and workers have the tools needed to deliver services.
Improving public transportation, focusing on affordable housing and getting the county general plan update done are all priorities, Wilson said. He also said it's important for the county to look into wind and wave energy opportunities as well as expanding solar programs.
Wilson said he was prompted to run for the 3rd District seat, in part, because of a positive experience as a representative on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. He said he's looking forward to putting his public service skill set and his professional skills to work for the district. He also noted his abilities as a problem-solver, and an understanding of small business concerns.
”With some fresh ideas and perspectives, there's a lot that can be moved forward,” he said.
Wilson said advocates for the establishing a regional trail system -- a benefit not only for current North Coast residents, but a powerful lure for those considering moving to the area.
”I believe the 3rd District can be the backbone of that system,” he said, with trails to Eureka, Blue Lake and out to the beach.
”It's going to take strong county support to make that happen,” Wilson said.
But, he said that won't be the limit of his efforts: Daycare needs, affordable housing, the general plan, the impacts of development in Arcata's sphere of influence will all get his attention if he's elected.
At a glance: The 3rd District: The 3rd District includes Arcata and Manila but also stretches inland to the Kneeland area and south -- roughly to a line running east from Fortuna.
Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 441-0517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.