The full complement of Trinity County’s next Board of Supervisors assuming office in January will finally be determined in a runoff race on Nov. 3 for the District 5 seat representing the south side of Hayfork, all of Southern Trinity and Hyampom.
The two contenders are Jeff Dickey of Hayfork and Dan Frasier of Hettenshaw. Whoever garners the most votes on Nov. 3 will take office in January, replacing the current incumbent John Fenley who chose not to seek a third term.
A total of three candidates ran for the seat in the March primary, but since none received a majority vote (50 percent plus one), the top two moved on to the November runoff. Dickey received the most votes in March at 362 (44.6 percent) to 331 (40.8 percent) for Frasier. In a distant third place was Diane Richards of Hayfork with 118 votes (14.6 percent).
There were two other races for county supervisor in the primary: the District 2 seat won by Jill Cox after incumbent Judy Morris declined to seek another term; and the District 3 seat won by Liam Gogan against the incumbent Bobbi Chadwick. The District 1 seat held by Keith Groves and District 4 seat held by Jeremy Brown are not up for election for two more years.
Back in District 5, Michael “Dan” Frasier is a lifetime resident of Southern Trinity, noting his mother’s side goes back to 1861. He has been the District 5 Planning Commissioner for about six years and his professional background is in timber.
He said he believes the county needs to work to preserve what’s left of its timber and ranching industries and look at options besides cannabis and tourism to diversify its revenue stream and recruit new business instead of watching it go away.
He would like to ease the costs of permitting and is supportive of Class K alternative housing that many in his area would like to see permitted.
Frasier said he’s not a fan of cannabis, but is supportive of increased enforcement to either bring the black market growers that constitute the majority in the county into compliance or take them out of business. He noted those investing thousands of dollars in doing it legally can’t compete with the black market.
In Southern Trinity, a major issue is communication where there is no cell service or radio reception and the county should examine ways to fund it as a priority. If elected, he said he will make himself available for in-person conversations, phone calls, and emails he promised to return.
“I’m just like anybody else in Trinity County who’s been here forever,” he said. “I’m just trying to maintain a livelihood and do something positive for our county because it’s getting to the point where young people can’t stay here. There are no employment opportunities, and there’s only so far we can go before we reach the tipping point. We only have an older population getting older and nobody is staying. Our county’s in trouble. That’s not a sustainable population trend.”
Jeff Dickey has lived in Hayfork for 23 years and worked for the county for 21 in General Services, Buildings and Grounds. He has been a building inspector, code enforcement officer and is currently the lead code compliance specialist in the Planning Department’s Cannabis Division, overseeing two others and also serving as the county’s building inspector.
His work takes him everywhere south of Hayfork Summit including Hyampom, Ruth, Zenia, Kettenpom, Mad River and Hayfork.
He said he’s watched the county from “inside out for 21 years, and I feel I have a very unique perspective that not many people have. I think that I have the ability, knowing county government and the way things work, and having the perspective I do, to hit the ground running. More so than someone who doesn’t have the experience I have.”
Disappointed to see all the empty storefronts in both Weaverville and Hayfork, Dickey suggested that legislative barriers to local economic development need to be removed so the county can become more than a retirement community where most children grow up and leave.
“Hopefully, they’re able to come back and offer something to the community with the education and experience they gather, but I think it’s up to individuals in the community who have a vision themselves. We need to encourage it and make it as easy as possible for them to see their visions happen,” he said.
Regarding cannabis, he said most retail businesses in the county have benefitted from it and the influx of seasonal workers, but the flipside in environment damage from illegal grows. He thinks the county will continue to see benefit from its cannabis licensing program and needs to include retail cannabis sales to possibly fill a few empty storefronts.
Other issues he’s concerned about include the county’s lack of affordable housing and homelessness be believes the Board of Supervisors should be addressing.
If elected, he said he will make transparency a priority for the board because he thinks it’s something there hasn’t been enough of. He’d like to see Trinity County become a place that can attract more economic development and more people, adding “I’d like to see it become a place where people can raise a family, build a future here and have a place where you can retire.”