The Del Norte County Republican Party hosted an open house Saturday for the community to meet candidates it has endorsed for the March election.
More than 50 people crowded the local GOP headquarters to meet and greet the candidates, including three for Del Norte County supervisor positions - Lori Cowan, Bob Berkowitz and Darrin Short - and California House candidate Charlotte Svolos.
Del Norte Republican chair Karen Sanders said she was pleased so many attended the event. “We have an awesome community and they came out to see, get informed and meet the candidates,” Sanders said.
“The top concerns (the attendees) expressed were homelessness, the Last Chance Grade, economics of this area, bringing opportunity back to our area and the general safety of our community.”
Each candidate had five minutes to present their campaign priorities.
Berkowitz, who represents District 5, emphasized more funds for the Meals on Wheels programs for needy seniors, acquiring more state and federal involvement in bringing high-speed internet service to all of Del Norte County, continuing his daily town hall meetings so voters have access to their county supervisor, and securing more resources to fight the county’s opioid addiction crisis.
District 2 incumbent Cowan said her proudest achievements include programs that create jobs and bring former residents back to Del Norte County. Among those is the registered nurse program at Sutter Coast Hospital. “I started work with Sutter Coast Hospital and College of Redwoods, and they are bringing the RN program back to Del Norte County,” said Cowan. “I’m so proud and so happy to say classes start in 2020.”
In addition, she said, she has worked with the Del Norte Unified School District to reboot the Career Pathways program. Del Norte High School now has two classes in the medical career area that can lead to internships and offer a taste of that field as a career, Cowan said.
Both Berkowitz and Cowan emphasized the importance of working with the State of California to complete the Last Chance Grade construction project this decade, which is designed to create a safer route south on U.S. Highway 101 and alternative routes past the slide-prone coastal area south of Crescent City.
Short, meantime, said he is looking to unseat Roger Gitlin in District 1. Short highlighted his longtime ties to the community, including his experience as a former Crescent City Council member and his service on a variety of city committees and county commissions, plus 30 years as a volunteer firefighter.
Short said one of his priorities is to continue providing a high level of emergency services, starting with more compensation to Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office deputies. He praised Del Norte Sheriff Erik Apperson for expanding local law enforcement by working with area Native American tribes.
Short also touched on the issue of homelessness, noting that the homeless population is comprised of not just those on hard times but also those who choose that lifestyle, as well as those who are struggling with drug addiction and mental-health issues.
Svolos spoke last. She’s running for election to the State Assembly as a Republican in a 400-mile stretch of District 2 that’s traditionally heavily Democratic.
As a former special-education teacher, Svolos said, one of her priorities is developing plans to help schools that are failing to meet state minimum progress requirements. She said this can begin with additional funding for special education programs, including federal as well as state dollars.
Svolos also touched on reforming “sanctuary state” practices that allow hiring undocumented immigrants, as well as issues such as monitoring wage discrepancy tied to gender, plus increasing funding to end human trafficking and domestic abuse.