Gitlin a one-candidate show at Tea Party forum

By Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate October 12, 2012 05:53 pm

 McNamer says 
her absence was due to a family emergency 

A forum planned for two District 1 Del Norte County supervisor hopefuls became a one-candidate show Tuesday night, with Roger Gitlin responding to five familiar topics and fielding five more unscripted questions from audience members gathered at an event organized by Del Norte’s Tea Party Patriots. 

“My husband had a family emergency so we had to drive to Sacramento to the hospital,” Leslie McNamer told the Triplicate, saying she canceled with organizers on Monday night. 

On Tuesday, the absence of an incumbent was denoted by an empty chair behind a blue-clothed table with her name tag.


Gitlin was the leading vote-getter, but not the majority winner, after a three-way June 5 primary.

District 1 voters will decide in the Nov. 6 general election. Mail ballots went out this week. 

Five questions drafted by the Tea Party’s Steering Committee were provided to both candidates in advance of Tuesday. The same questions were initially asked and answered at an April 24 forum in the same venue, at which Gitlin, McNamer and then-candidate Donna Westfall appeared.

This time around, Gitlin offered a few more specifics on his plans for private sector job creation, advocating that supervisors award a minimum of 25 percent of local government contracts to local companies and that billboards bearing Uncle Sam’s image let people on the highways know Del Norte wants their business.  

As evidence of the need for more vocational training opportunities here, he related how difficult it was to find someone qualified to fix his dishwasher.

“We need to train our kids in technical skills, not necessarily college skills,” Gitlin said. 

Audience questions were submitted at the event. They dealt with “coordination” between state, federal and local governments (Gitlin said he’s in favor of this process, now required of the U.S. Forest Service through a recently approved memorandum of understanding); supervisor salaries (if elected, he’s promised to put 10 percent of his into a blight removal initiative); what natural resource he “would best and responsibly exploit” (recreation and tourism, he said); and what about light manufacturing? (“We need to be looking at this, but not at the expense of compromising our magnificent natural resources,” he said).

Gitlin was also asked to comment on a debate that has dominated the Triplicate’s op-ed page since a front page story detailed his politically charged Internet presence.

Gitlin declined to be interviewed for the Sept. 29 story, which quoted directly from a number of his 60-plus submissions to the West Ranch Beacon and the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, as well as a Sept. 6 email sent out to local residents asking for donations to counteract “the full force of the radical Left” that he said would be doing “everything in its power to defeat me.”

“The barking seals of the Left,” is an oft-used turn of phrase in his other writings.

The Triplicate story has inspired a slew of letters to the editor. And it inspired one audience question on Tuesday: “What do you disagree with regarding the Triplicate article?” 

“Why don’t you print the whole article in which I made some arguably incendiary comments about people whose positions are dramatically different from mine? I don’t think it’s fair,” Gitlin said, also arguing that coverage of his political commentaries and the labels suffusing them should have been on the opinion page.

“I had a life before I ran for supervisor and I’m very proud of the things I’ve written,” he said.

Fourteen op-ed pieces appeared on after Gitlin filed his District 1 candidacy in March.

He framed partisan conflict in terms of local land use. 

“It needs to be said that Del Norte County is truly a dramatically polarized county,” he opened Tuesday, going on to say:

“This election for Del Norte County supervisor is about no-growth versus managed healthy growth.”

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