Yosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce has established an ongoing dialogue with our Tuolumne County District 4 Supervisor. In this interview, Kathleen reveals her priorities, actions, and surprises as our new local government representative.
In our first interview, your #1 priority in accepting the Supervisor seat for District 4 has been to establish a connection, trust, and confidence amongst your constituents. It seems early days yet, but how do you feel that’s going?
I am excited to relay that the new Board of Supervisors has made some good headway toward this end. Tune in to any BOS meeting (if you haven’t already) and you will notice a different tone and approach to comments from the public and even in the way we communicate with staff. I have personally received numerous communications from the public and staff saying that the new board is a breath of fresh air (or words to that effect).
Additionally, I am looking at what comes before us on the agenda with a keen eye, putting myself in the position of being YOU, the public, maybe not knowing the full story…so I ask more questions and request more information. For instance, I want to ensure all parties affected by a new upcoming county policy have been consulted with each draft for their input – even if it is not required, but it is the courteous thing to do!
Case in point: the new Dig Once Policy, which will come before the Board for the last time Tuesday, Feb 2nd. Sub-parties, such as smaller community service districts (including GCSD), sanitary districts, etc. were not contacted before the last revision nor told that the policy would come before the Board on January 19th. TUD was informed, but no other signatories to their joint letter to the county were informed. I made a point of saying that when we create new policies which others (in this case community utility districts) will have to follow, it is only right to make sure everyone has been notified. We are in a new era of transparency and this is one good example of how we are doing business differently now in the county.
Finally, when there are cost overruns, like for the emergency storm damage repair work on Little Fuller Road in Twain Harte, another item in the February 2nd Board agenda, it is important to find out where this “extra money” is coming from to pay for the repair work. I have notified staff that from now on this kind of information needs to be put in the Board memo. These are the types of activities and actions that I hope our citizens are becoming more aware of which will give them greater confidence in the current Board.
In our previous interview, you said you have other priorities for our district. What are they and how are you approaching them?
One of my first priorities is to attend to unfinished business. The Moc Fire was a frightening experience for Groveland residents especially with regard to the evacuation. I am keenly aware that the Groveland evacuee experience was never documented nor were the citizens asked for their input. As a former Office of Emergency Services (OES) Coordinator for this County, I understand that holding a review of the evacuation process, sometimes called a “Hotwash” in OES jargon, is an invaluable tool – to ensure we continue to make improvements where public safety is involved. A Hotwash specifically for the Moc Fire evacuation process is a time to listen to what constituents have to say…what worked and what didn’t in the evacuation process?
To correct this omission, I will be holding my first Town Hall on February 18th from 6 – 7 pm. It will be a virtual Town Hall featuring our new OES Coordinator Dore Bietz along with Sheriff Bill Pooley and Fire Chief Nick Casci. Once the full details of how to connect to this Town Hall are worked out, I will send them to the Chamber and other social media outlets. Details to follow!
Earlier in January, I participated with the other Board of Supervisors members in a three-day Goal Setting workshop to develop our strategy for 2021. We agreed upon a set of strategies that will be our compass for the year. You can view the draft strategy document, which defines the what and why, but not the how. With staff, the Board will further refine these priorities, adding the “how” at some point soon.
What are the most common questions or concerns you’re receiving from members of your district?
Well, with the recent high winds and storms, I have been helping constituents navigate their way through the regulatory and permit process to help them with their various repairs. That is one concern, but there have been others, ranging from how to get code compliance issues resolved, to where to sign up for the Covid vaccine, or whether new grading on private property disputes are a matter for the county to resolve or a civil matter. It is never a dull moment and I am happy to help resolve issues where I can after a constituent has attempted on their own to resolve a problem.
Finally, what has been your biggest surprise since taking the oath to serve our county in January?
Coming down with Covid! I thought it was a cold. My husband had had a “cold” for 2 weeks and then it resolved itself for him in week 3, yet on January 16th, I started to experience those very same cold symptoms. So, on the second day of symptoms, I went down to the fairgrounds to get a Covid test. Imagine my surprise when I learned 2 days later that yes, I did test positive for Covid! On that same day, Bob, my husband, went to Quest to get an antibody test, and sure enough, he later learned that he had Covid antibodies and that “cold” had actually been the virus.
Anyone who knows us, knows that my husband and I are big proponents of building our immunity through proper diet and supplements. When Covid arrived on scene last March, we doubled down in our resolve to take personal responsibility for our health and wellbeing. I am back to work in person now, but through the wonder of technology while I was isolating with Covid during my first 30 days’ “internship,” I never missed a beat in my participation as your Board representative.
Kathleen Haff is on the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, representing District 4, which includes Groveland, Pine Mountain Lake, Big Oak Flat, Moccasin, Chinese Camp, Lake Don Pedro Area, Rancho Poquitos, Standard, East Sonora, the Junction and Curtis Creek Ranch. She can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or at her office phone: 209.533.5526.