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Governance for sustainability, or vulnerability and decline?

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Voting for real sustainable Napa County change with local, resident-focused, deep-knowledge in the District 4 Supervisor election, Amber Manfree, is the choice for decision-making based in extensive scientific knowledge, commitment to actually researching community issues, reflective thought, critical thinking, extensive life experience, and revealing and speaking factual truths to Power.

I met with Amber Manfree, over four meetings, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for running against the incumbent, Alfredo Pedroza. I found her to be humble, confident and determined, highly intelligent, a critical thinker with gentle humor, a smile and a pleasant laugh, an authentic person.

A fifth-generation Napa County resident, holding Masters and PhD degrees from UC Davis; a caretaker for her family elders, a sought-after land use consultant with extensive technical knowledge of landscape analysis, statistics, human geography, local and state-wide planning issues, water management, climate change, and Napa County; strong project management skills - co-editing two books and numerous reports; an award-winning PhD dissertation; administrative experience as past president of a Sonoma County nonprofit; experience constructing policy in university curricula contexts; an extensive network of professional contacts in academia, government, and adjacent counties; a team player who enjoys and is committed to building relationships, understanding the power and need for stakeholder inclusive processes, using science as a basis for consensus-building to serve all members of a community – and now for our diverse Napa County communities.

I supported Alfredo when he was elected to the Napa City Council in 2012.

When he didn’t finish his council term, moved his residence into District 4, and was appointed to his current supervisor position by Gov. Brown, I paid attention to his voting patterns and his campaign donors – wealthy wine industry donors, which his voting has supported. His campaign fund is $200,000 to $250,000 or more from the wine industry.

By contrast Amber Manfree has roughly $30,000, coming from grassroots residents, explaining why we’ve received two of her hand-delivered brochures compared to what feels like an expensive mailed multipage printout every few weeks from Alfredo. While I have serious questions about many of Alfredo’s printed claims, my big question is can big money for expensive brochures convince us to vote for a candidate?

Our local issues are many: water uncertainty, Napa river pollution, compromise of Hennessy Reservoir, risk to Milliken reservoir’s pristine Napa city water upon the completion of the Walt Ranch project; destruction of our protective woodlands/ watersheds; traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing for purchase or rent, care of our Seniors; and most of all, our growing dependence on a closed-loop economic monoculture – wine-grapes for an alcoholic beverage, wine, which many of us find pleasurable [me]; but not a food sustaining our children, seniors, nor us, and much at price points not affordable.

Traffic congestion, unaffordable housing and rents, pollution of river/reservoirs, are not self-causing. They are the outcomes of elected officials’ decision-making.

The Napa Valley is a “Brand” and a “Destination,” meaning those of us who have homes or affordable rents are fortunate exceptions to the women who clean our hotels/motels and women and men who serve our restaurant’s tables; and by the county’s own admission the thousands of men and women commuters, not hundreds, who work our vineyards and wineries; -- with three Farm Centers, 180 beds, men-only. Alfredo has been a supervisor for over 5 years. During that time no additional “Farm Centers” have been built? Not for women, not for families. Why? Where do women sleep? Are they at risk?

Few vine/wine/hotel/restaurant workers are migrants, but most unable to afford living here. There are consequences to unaffordable home ownership or rents. Unaffordable housing means declining school enrollments and reduced state revenues causing layoffs, school closures, loss of quality education, all happening now, and projected to continue by our Napa Unified School District. Our declining county population is going to result in senior services cutbacks.

Retiring from Napa Valley College in 2010, I followed local and global events including climate, poverty, and the evolution from a NorthBay hourglass economy to now a Napa County economy of have/have-nots. As educator with two daughters, and now two grandchildren my deep interest is for Sustainability; for all the children and young people who are coming behind us.

Sustainability defined as: “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems” (Jennifer Wells, 2013); the UN supported intergenerational definition: “Sustainable Development is development that meets the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Bruntland Commission, 1987).

Ron Rhyno, Professor Emeritus Napa Valley College; M.A., M.S.

Member 87-88, and Foreman 88-89 Grand Jury

Board of Directors Napa Unified Education Foundation, past

Board of Directors Clinic Ole, past

Board of Directors, Solano/Napa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, past

Vice President, Napa County Mental Health Association, past

President, Mexican American Political Assn., Napa County, past

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