FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 21, 2014 –
On the local June 3 ballot is the District 1 seat of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The district includes Clarksburg and all of West Sacramento except for a slice of the city’s northwest, near Reed Avenue.
That seat is now held by Oscar Villegas, recently appointed to fill a vacancy.
This week, we talk to his challenger for reelection, Norma Alcala. We’ll invite Villegas for a similar chat next week.
By Steve Marschke
There are several strong reasons why Norma Alcala is running for Yolo County Supervisor – in particular, for the seat now held by Oscar Villegas.
“We need a full-time supervisor,” she told the News-Ledger last week. “I believe that Mr. Villegas has a very strong conflict. He’s holding down two full-time jobs and he’s getting two full-time salaries. He makes $101,000 as a field director for the (state) department of corrections, and the supervisor job pays very, very well – about $100,000 with benefits and all. To me, that’s double-dipping. The other supervisors have other jobs, but they’re not government jobs.”
But is Villegas doing a good job as a supervisor? Alcala referred to his recently-ended stint on the West Sacramento city council:
“In 13 years of being on the city council, in my opinion, he’s just been a rubber stamp for the mayor,” said Alcala.
She also believes the currently-all-male board of supervisors could use some gender diversity.
“I think it’s a fine board,” she commented. “I’m just saying fresh ideas are necessary. It’s important to have a woman’s perspective – we’re problem solvers.”
Alcala, 53, is a native of Texas who came to West Sacramento in 1966. She first lived “on the wrong side of the tracks,” and now resides with her husband in “The Rivers,” a semi-gated subdivision in the Broderick neighborhood.
She and her husband own a business involved in ignition-lock devices that are sometimes court-mandated for DUI offenders; the devices won’t let a vehicle start up if they detect too much alcohol on the breath. Although part owner, Alcala does not work full-time at the company.
She earned an “associate of arts” degree in political science at Sacramento City College, but left to help support her family. She’s also attended some law school classes and worked for the state legislature (“on both sides of the aisle”) for nine years.
“I’ve always been very active in the community,” Alcala said. “I’m a member of the Chicano-Latino caucus of the California Democratic Party. We’re a very strong caucus that is involved in immigration reform and other issues.”
She supports, and is supported by, city council member Mark Johannessen – now running for state assembly.
Does she believe Yolo County is in good fiscal shape?
“Mr. Villegas said. . . that the supervisors have taken a vow of poverty,” Alcala replied. “To me, that means there is going to certainly be more restraint. However, the governor told us that our fiscal future is looking much brighter. . . It’s been managed as well as it can be, but there are other opportunities. I want to bring in more jobs.”
Should those jobs be on county land – between the cities – in order to bring in cash for Yolo?
“We have the Williamson Act to protect us,” she said, referring to a mechanism that tries to help ag land to remain ag land. “I think you do have to be open to all opportunities, and that’s why you have a board. It’s not up to one person to make a decision.”
But she added that the county’s current policy of maintaining open buffers between its cities “is the right approach.”
Alcala is firmly against the governor’s plan to build “tunnels” to help move water from the Delta area to Southern California.
“It would completely destroy our deltas and it would take all our jobs and water down south. One of my sons is a water engineer. They don’t need the water down there.”
She said the real problem is that water is being wasted.
“One of the things I think we should be doing is building our dams up higher – that would give us more storage.”
Another issue facing Yolo County is the process of implementing “realignment” – which moves prisoners from state prisons to local jails or to release programs.
It’s produced a high rate of recidivism among those criminals back on the street, she said. But some counties have been more successful than others, and “we should definitely be looking at successful models.”
Is Alcala ready, as a county supervisor, to work with other regional officials on problems like solving homelessness and negotiating for new bridges on the West Sacramento riverfront?
“I believe so,” she answered. “I have a lot of friends in the political arena. . . and a lot of it comes down to relationships you build with individuals, in any office.”
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