Humboldt County, CA March 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Carlos E. Benemann

Candidate for
Supervisor; County of Humboldt; District 1

This information is provided by the candidate


My philosophy of county government is simple. Using government agencies, I expect to get things done. Each governmental agency or entity is pretty well-defined as to its duties, responsibilities, rules and regulations. I am very good at understanding the basics of a given agency or department quickly. I learned this during the years I worked to reduce water and telephone rates with the Public Utilities Commission. I perfected this as mayor of Ferndale. Not only did I have to understand the local city departments, but I had to work as the interim city manager. As mayor, I have represented Ferndale on a number of inter-governmental agencies and have worked with county and state agencies and departments.

During my work, I have found that understanding what government agencies and departments are supposed to do allows me to get things done. It may sound simple, but it gets complicated in the execution.

For example, Ferndale's sewer plant was filling up with silt so it could not drain properly. Previous city administrations had talked about getting grants to rebuild the entire plant. Ultimately that is what needs to be done, but in the meantime, nobody was carrying out routine maintenance. I learned what needed to be done immediately from the public works department and set up a plan to accomplish that. It has given the plant a little longer life while we deal with a long-term solution, such as a constructed wetlands like Arcata's.

A better example came when I knocked on a door in King Salmon, and a parent pointed out to me that since the distance from King Salmon to South Bay Elementary School is just a half a mile, there is no bus service and the kids walk. There are no sidewalks from the power plant passing under the freeway for kids walking to school. There is quite a bit of traffic and serious risk to the kids walking on the street.

Three days later while reviewing routine correspondence in the mayor's office, I came across a new state program entitled "Safe Access to Schools", which would fund precisely the kind of problem at King Salmon. Just a couple of days later, I discussed the issue and the solution with the executive director of Humboldt County Association of Governments, a board on which I have been sitting for two years and of which I was vice chairman. We brought the issue before the board at the regular meeting of HCAOG the same day, and it is now on the agenda to write a proposal to the State. The proposal will include safe access to other schools in Humboldt County.

I believe this is the process that works. I believe this distinguishes me from the other candidates, because I am a hands-on politician, on the streets, in the office, talking to staff, talking to constituents, and making the right connections between the agencies and the people.

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