District 2 candidates discuss climate change, tourism, cannabis

Similarities seen in responses to questions at GOP-sponsored forum

District 2 Humboldt County Board of Supervisors candidates Rick French, Michelle Bushnell and Sean DeVries answer questions at a candidates forum held by the Republican Women at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka on Thursday. (Shomik Mukherjee – The Times-Standard)

District 2 Humboldt County Board of Supervisor candidates seem to see eye to eye on many of the issues facing their district.

At a candidates forum held by the Republican Women at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka on Thursday, three District 2 candidates — cannabis entrepreneur Sean DeVries, Hydesville resident Rick French, and Michelle Bushnell of the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce — agreed that more money needs to go toward roads and projects pursued by the county should be fiscally responsible, but disagreed on a few issues, such as how to draw tourists to the area.

District 2 incumbent Estelle Fennell and Michael McKaskle, of the Redway Community Services District, were absent.

Moderator Karen Brooks said McKaskle’s absence was an oversight on her part because she didn’t learn about his candidacy until a late date. Fennell couldn’t make it because Wednesday’s storm struck District 2 pretty hard and she needed to meet with the count’s Office of Emergency Services, Brooks said.

French said he believes cannabis is the highlight at the moment, but the different groups working on tourism in Eureka and the broader county “could get closer together in their pitch.”

“I sense a real divergence between the agencies,” French said.

DeVries also said cannabis should be a focal point and the Elevate the Magic campaign, though it’s fallen off a bit, should be revived since it captured both the magical elements of nature and cannabis in the area.

“You combine those things together and you’ve got magic, magic,” he said.

Bushnell said she would prefer to take a more all-inclusive approach to highlight everything the area has to offer, such as the redwoods, the coasts and “antiquey” towns such as Ferndale.

“I think that Humboldt needs to be marketed as a whole,” Bushnell said, “not individually.”

The candidates agreed on other topics, including none of them raising their hands when asked if they thought climate change would destroy the world in 12 years. They also agreed to support some voter-approved revisions to the county’s current sanctuary ordinance.

“I would certainly entertain anything that voters wanted to revise and make better,” French said.

Bushnell said she thinks repeat offenders need to be dealt with more harshly, while DeVries said he would support the ideas of putting restrictions on violent criminals and considering the distribution of hard drugs a violent crime, as suggested by District 1 Supervisor candidates Cliff Berkowitz and Rex Bohn, respectively.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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