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"Inyo County District 3 candidates discuss issues," The Inyo Register, October 18, 2022
Inyo County Third District candidates Scott E. Marcellin and Kody Jaeger took questions during a forum last week.
Residents of Inyo County’s Third District got a chance to get to know who their next supervisor might be a little better during a candidates forum last week.
Candidates Kody Jaeger, assistant tribal administrator for the Bishop Paiute Tribe, and Scott E. Marcellin, local businessman, are running for the open seat.
The forum, sponsored by the Bishop Sunrise Rotary Club and moderated by Kristina Blüm Justice, featured prepared questions and then those generated from the audience.
The role of county government
Marcellin said county government serves the entire community through elected offices and the administration to enforce state laws, collect taxes, assess property, record public documents, conduct elections, and issues licenses through appointed boards and officials. He said county government also provides parks, library services, emergency management, public assistance, and hospitals as required by state law.
Marcellin said county government also serves the county’s unincorporated areas by providing government facilities and services, police protection, building and safety, planning, and zoning. Elected county officials oversee most of these services.
He said counties also provide services such as economic development, environmental control, and public health, among many others.
Marcellin said as a supervisor he would provide open ears and a place where he would listen to constituents.
Jaeger said the role of county government is to ensure that the county’s department heads and staff have all the tools they need to be successful in their roles.
She said while a supervisor's role is to listen, “we’re also there to take action and know how to take the proper action to give that support to those departments. The better supported your county departments are, the better the services to the communities to which they serve.”
Jaeger said the role of county government also is to ensure accessibility to the community to hear “all voices of the community and all levels of government.”
She said accessibility should be afforded to county employees as well.
“Sometimes we have workers, they go to work every day unappreciated, not knowing the huge impact they have in our communities,” Jaeger said. “I believe this is a new day, I believe this is the time for change.”
Collaboration with other entities
Jaeger said as the assistant tribal administrator for the Bishop Paiute Tribe, she already has close ties to the tribal communities in the valley as well as other local, state, and federal entities.
Currently, she is assisting the tribe with more than 100 grants and so is working on a daily basis with many federal agencies.
“I do bring that strength to this position right on day one,” she said. “I will already have these relationships built to address and help with the needs and the issues that are right now facing District Three and also Inyo County.”
Marcellin said as a local businessman he has been building relationships with different entities for the last 50 years.
“There’s no reason that I can’t bring them to the table, we need to bring them to the table with collaboration,” he said.
He said he has worked with contractors, engineers and consultants on the state and federal and “if I can do it there, I can do it working for you in District Three.”
Marcellin said the Eastern Sierra Small Business Resource Center “was birthed from a great idea from Inyo County and a group of people and I think it’s an it’s an amazing platform.”
He said he also thought it was a good idea to turn the resource center of to the Sierra Business Council to run as the agency has extensive experience in assisting local businesses.
He said key to the resource center is that while it is located in Bishop, its there to assist residents and businesses throughout the entire county.
Jaeger said the resource center must be used more, adding that she is looking forward to promoting the facility in the county’s tribal communities.
“Entrepreneurship is so important and that is one way to begin building back the businesses in the city of Bishop and also Inyo County,” she said.
Jaeger noted the recent Capital Summit that the resource center hosted that drew more than 100 attendees.
“That’s what we want to start to foster,” she said.
Jaeger said she is aware of multiple opportunities available for the tribes to build their own “tribal qualified workforces to begin promoting our workforce here.” This would alleviate reliance on drawing workers from outside the area and the housing challenges that brings with it.
She said the Inyo County Office of Education also offers many programs as well, which, as a supervisor, she would also promote.
Housing and homelessness
Jaeger said that she had attended a meeting the day of the forum with the city of Bishop and the tribe regarding working collaboratively to addressing some of the housing issues, specifically employee housing.
“I think we’re going in a very positive direction,” she said, adding that regardless of the election outcome, she plans on staying active on the issue.
She said the county could take advantage of the federal funding opportunities that have been extended to tribes.
Jaeger said it’s important that people recognize the different degrees of homelessness, why people are homeless, and address the stigma often associated with the homeless, even if they are in a situation beyond their control.
Current solutions for homelessness are temporary fixes, she said, adding that she would like to work to find something more permanent.
Marcellin pointed out the efforts the city is making on the homeless issue with project such as Silver Peaks and efforts to get Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to “fast track” divestment of two other properties in the city.
“The county’s way behind,” he said of the county’s housing situation. “We need to fast track it. We can’t keep putting our head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away.”
Marcellin said the county needs to start working with LADW because “they own all the land.”
“How come we aren’t working with them?” he asked “We’re working against them. We need to start partnering with them so we can start getting something done. If we don’t start working with them, we’re going to dry up and blow away.”
He said LADWP “kept this valley from turning into Palmdale, Lancaster” and similar communities.
Marcellin said the county should be working on infrastructure grants because the land available for development is too cost prohibitive currently to develop because of a lack of infrastructure.
“There’s land available,” Marcellin said, “we need to start working with the developers.”