Promising to preserve El Dorado County’s rural atmosphere and history is District 2 Supervisor candidate George Turnboo.
On his third try at being elected to the board, Turnboo said, “I have a passion, care about the community and care about its lifestyle. Being an old-time resident, I know a lot of stuff that has happened here in the past. I want to protect its history and the lifestyle. I’m all about keeping our lands rural. Everyone who moves to this county does so because they like the rural atmosphere and I intend to keep that atmosphere as a supervisor.”
Acknowledging District 2 has a diverse population of urban and rural residents, Turnboo believes he can represent those in El Dorado Hills just as well as those living in the more rural areas. “Those living in El Dorado Hills feel like they are also living in a rural area and enjoy it,” he said.
A strong supporter of three growth control initiatives referred to as the 1-2-3 petitions, Turnboo said he helped gather a couple thousand signatures for them at his shop.
One of those initiatives, the “green” one, was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors and will be on the ballot in November. Turnboo said the initiative will help protect agriculture and the individual identities of the different communities in the county.
Asked about a second petition the Board of Supervisors decided to delay, Turnboo said the decision showed a lack of communication between the board and its constituents.
“The board is out of touch and should have asked questions before the petition ever came before them for a vote,” he said. “All you have to do is follow the 460s (campaign spending statements) and find out who gives them money. Lots of supervisors get money from big developers. I’m not beholden to anyone, no big developers or special interests. I’m only beholden to the people of El Dorado County.”
Criticizing the other two initiatives that have already qualified for the ballot, Turnboo said the 1-2-3 petition drives were conducted by volunteers. “Other petitions gathered signatures by paying people to do so,” he said. “Our petitions were circulated by concerned citizens who care about our county and care about the rural lifestyle we have and want to retain it. District 2 is more rural than high development and most people want it to stay rural.”
Also interested in preserving the history of the area, Turnboo said his family has been in the county since the 1840s. “At the time there were only 36 families in the county and mine was one of them,” he said. Recounting how Hugh Turnboo Sr. brought eight wagon trains down the Oregon Trail, he told how relatives of his were also in the Donner Party. “Our family had one of the oldest vineyards in the area and even sent a bottle of wine to President Lincoln’s inauguration. I just care about the county and care about history because once the history’s gone, it’s gone.”
Tackling the subject of economic development and jobs, Turnboo said an excursion train would be a good way of promoting the history of the county as well as bringing in revenue with the train taking visitors to the area’s wineries, Christmas tree farms, Apple Hill or elsewhere. “We could also build an old town in El Dorado with a blacksmith shop, hat and dress-maker shop, and leather maker. It would put our county on the map. There’s a lot of history here. We’re the Christmas tree capital of the world in Placerville and could transport trees to Sacramento by excursion train.”
Another job creation idea Turnboo has is to lower TIM (traffic impact mitigation) fees to entice more businesses to relocate, saying the county needs businesses more than it does houses. He also suggested setting up escrow accounts when people undertake development projects. With the money staying there until the project was complete, it would motivate the county to expedite projects, he said.
As for all the new housing projects being proposed, Turnboo believes the county lacks the infrastructure and water to accommodate them. When told the El Dorado Irrigation District currently only uses 39,500 acre feet of the 77,000 acre-feet available, Turnboo responded by saying EID might need the excess capacity next year if the drought continues.
Turnboo went on to say there is a need for more reservoirs to hedge against droughts and added that if the SOFAR (South Fork American River) project hadn’t been killed by two members of the Board of Supervisors, the county wouldn’t have a water problem today.
Turning to the county’s natural resources, Turnboo said he would like to see greater use of the national forest since it makes up 70 percent of the land in the county. He also supports starting a Co-generation plan to remove the dead wood and debris from the forest and burning it to produce electricity.
Currently a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Turnboo said he’s been frustrated with how slow the county has been to implement the plan produced by the committee. He suggested forming a JPA (joint powers authority) to put it into action, which would bring in additional businesses to the county.
As for other kinds of investments to attract revenue to the county, he doesn’t favor building a hotel at Tilden Park because of what he said were infrastructure problems, particularly roads. Instead, he thought a hotel at the Red Hawk casino made more sense. As for a motel in Fair Play, Turnboo thought road improvements and enough water to support the businesses in the area were more pressing issues.
Asked about the amount of money routinely approved as part of the Board of Supervisors’ consent calendar, Turnboo proposed having a budget oversight committee for the board. In general the county has a problem with boards, agencies and commissions, he said. They often dictate to supervisors what’s going on. It’s about grant money. They give you a little piece here and a little piece there, he said.
In his concluding remarks, Turnboo said, “I’ve always had a passion to run for this position because I care about the people and their concerns. The people in this county are very, very special to me and I want to make sure I do whatever I can to help them and retain the lifestyle we have. And especially our history, because once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can never put it back.”
Repeating a refrain he used at a candidate’s forum, he said people should ask themselves the simple question of why they moved to El Dorado County.
“The answer is they love the rural atmosphere,” he said. “So let’s retain it.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.