By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Two long time Del Norte County political insiders are racing for the Board of Supervisors district four seat this campaign season.
Clyde Eller and Sarah Sampels are both looking to represent residents between Washington Boulevard and the banks of the Smith River, west of Highway 101 on the countys top governing body.
Though both have been heavily involved in local politics for nearly 20 years, Sampels and Eller have very different views on what has caused the countys financial woes and on how the county should be run.
We have reached a point where weve really crippled the county. Its time to stop suing other agencies, find more revenue streams and stop cutting employees and services, Sampels said.
Sampels has been the Treasurer and Tax Collector for Del Norte County for nearly 20 years. That job has made her intimately aware of all monies coming into the county and how its spent once it gets here, she said.
How money has been spent in the last eight years or so has frustrated Sampels, and thats why she decided to run.
I got sick of the fiscal irresponsibility. Some members of the board, my opponent, refused to listen to staff and spent money we didnt have, she said.
Specifically, the countys decision to sue Crescent City to make it turn over the city owned water system to the county was a waste, she said.
Also, for the county to back loans for the Norcal purchase made taxpayer money vulnerable, she added.
My goal is to bring back fiscal responsibility and to keep government out in the public eye and not behind closed doors, Sampels said.
Eller, Sampels opponent and the incumbent in this race since 1994, says the countys financial problems are not the boards fault.
The state continues to mandate programs without the funding it takes to run those programs, Eller said.
He indicated that the states fiscal health is directly related to Del Norte Countys fiscal health.
Each year the state has problems, they go after our funding. When the state has a surplus, theyre more willing to help, he said.
Though, both the state and county are having financial problems this year, Eller promised we will have a balanced budget this year.
This budget year ends June 31. The Board of Supervisors have struggled with a $1.7 million deficit which forced job and wage cuts in the countys work force.
Even if Ellers prediction of a balanced budget for this year is correct, he said starting in July, the next budget year will be harder to handle.
Each year it seems harder than the last, he said.
But, Eller said he has the skills to face the challenges.
I bring academic skills. I went to graduate school for public administration and I was chairman of the board of directors for Fort Dick Fire, he said.
Eller also helped champion the creation of Norcal, a public power cooperative serving Northern California.
Pursuing Norcal has not cost the county any money and it will save it money in the long run, he said.
Though many hours have been spent by the county attorney and several other county employees on the drive to get Norcal up and running, Eller said once Norcal and the buyout of PacifiCorp is approved by the state, the cost of those hours will be paid back.
The success of Norcal will be among my proudest achievements, Eller has said in the past.
If Eller wins this election, he said it will be his last four years in office.
This will be my final term, because I feel I will have accomplished what I set out to do and in four years Ill be ready to retire and spend time with my family, he said.