Humboldt County's incoming 2nd district supervisor Estelle Fennell was sworn in to office Monday, Jan. 7 at noon at the county courthouse. Incumbent Mark Lovelace, who successfully won his re-election, was also sworn in alongside supervisor Rex Bohn, who has been in office since August.
Fennell says that her top priorities as a new supervisor include providing strong representation at the county level and diversifying the economy here in southern and central Humboldt.
"If you look at Fortuna, Rio Dell and Scotia," Fennell said, "that was a very independent area. It was very independent because of logging and fishing, etc. Not so much anymore. You've still got a workforce, but you don't have enough jobs. I'd like to see some kind of move to bring the 2nd district into the bigger picture of Humboldt County."
Fennell first ran for supervisor in 2008 after leaving her position as news director at Redway's KMUD-FM, a position she'd held for more than 17 years. After losing to Clendenen in her first bid for office, Fennell took a job with the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights, a group which has been active in the county planning process over the last four years. She feels that her past experience has helped prepare her for working in local government.
"I think it's been a natural trajectory," Fennell said. "I would say both of those sets of experience will be beneficial to me as I move forward representing the residents of the 2nd district.
"I think my journalistic background will help me in terms of looking at the issues and really drilling down to where we find commonalities and where the real story is. Another side of that is the ability to listen. I think it's extremely important to listen to all sides of a debate before you jump in and make any pronouncements," Fennell said.
"As far as my work with the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights," she said, "I think that was really instructional for me. I came out of Southern Humboldt and started mixing with people from across the county, and saw the cooperation, collaboration between people from very different backgrounds - back-to-the-landers, ranchers, property owners in general. I think what I see there is a really promising future for Humboldt County, which is all of us working together."
"The General Plan Update is definitely a big issue for the whole 2nd district," Fennell added, “for the rural areas especially. I hope to be able to work on a plan that includes sensible land use planning that respects the rights of property owners but also protects the environment. A nice balance - that's what I'd like to see."
1st district supervisor Rex Bohn was also sworn in last week - but he's been on the job since last August. That time was spent finishing out his predecessor's term after supervisor Jimmy Smith stepped down to pursue cancer treatments in August. Now that he's officially begun his own term of service on the board, Bohn says the head start has helped him hit the ground running.
"A lot of people when they take office, they don't talk to the people they take office from. Either there's a contentious campaign, or the person just leaves. I was very fortunate to be able to step in and help Jimmy out when he had to go through treatments. I got appointed by the governor, but Jimmy was always there when I needed help," Bohn says.
3rd district supervisor Mark Lovelace was sworn in alongside Fennell and Bohn. Lovelace has served on the board since 2008, when he won his seat by a landslide against competitors Bryan Plumley and Paul Pitino.
For those interested in contacting their supervisors to discuss ongoing issues facing Humboldt County, the number for their office is (707) 476-2396. The Humboldt County board of supervisors meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the supervisor's chambers at the county courthouse in Eureka. The meetings are televised on Access Humboldt, channels 8-12 for Suddenlink cable TV subscribers. They're also streamed live on the board's website http://co.humboldt.ca.us/board/.
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTOS BY DAVE BROOKSHER
1. 1st district supervisor Rex Bohn (left) who has been serving in his position since August 2012, and newly sworn-in 2nd district supervisor Estelle Fennell (right) in the supervisors chambers at the Humboldt County courthouse.
2. 3rd district supervisor Mark Lovelace, who was successfully re-elected in last year's June primary, posing for photographers alongside supervisors Rex Bohn and Estelle Fennell at a reception held in the nearby Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center.