FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 21, 2011 –
By Steve Marschke
West Sacramento’s Mike McGowan announced this month he will run to defend the Yolo Board of Supervisors seat he has held since 1993. He has also just been named president of the California State Association of Counties – which is now involved in serious negotiations with the administration of Governor Jerry Brown as Brown tries to tackle state debt.
“The primary issue now is ‘realignment’ and reform, and what might happen if the planned $6 billion (in new state cuts) are triggered,” said McGowan. “Counties are really an extension of the state, and we are the folks who implement a whole lot of federal and state programs – like welfare, food stamps, indigent health. In a city, the functions are primarily police, fire and public works, sewer, water and garbage. . . We (counties) have to do that in our unincorporated areas, but we have to provide state services as well.”
The governor proposes to shift more duties from the state to the counties, and the struggle is over making sure that enough revenue comes along with it.
‘Realignment’ is a fancy word for shifting more work to the counties,” said McGowan. “We want to make sure the money will be there, too.”
McGowan said he thinks that local agencies can serve their communities better on a lot of fronts than the state, so in principal, “realignment” could work well.
“I think it depends on the funding,” he said. “I believe locals are really better at identifying a problem, because we live in it, we’re here.”
And how’s Yolo County doing on the whole?
McGowan said he and his fellow board members, fortunately, have shared a common vision for development. As a former West Sacramento mayor (the city’s first, actually) McGowan saw growth as the city’s friend. It’s different for the county.
“There’s a strong buy-in from the average citizen in Yolo of what we’re trying to do here,” he told the News-Ledger. “One of the best things about Yolo County is what hasn’t changed. We haven’t developed much at all in the unincorporated area, and have stayed true to the notion that development should occur in the cities. When you leave any city limit in Yolo County, you are immediately in the country. There’s no blur.”
After almost 20 years on the board, McGowan sees himself as something of the “grayback gorilla,” he said. He’s been involved in health administration, Native American casino issues, water rights from Conaway Ranch, and more.
“It is busy. I love it.”
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