Dillon vs. Perez
Bill Hocker | May 2, 2018
NVR 5/2/18: In sit-down interviews, Napa supervisor candidates Dillon and Perez make their case to voters
NVR 3/9/18: Dillon and Perez to face off for Napa County supervisor seat
As the makeup of the current Napa County Board of Supervisors goes, Supervisors Dillon and Wagenknecht, both up for re-election this year, might be seen as the conservationist or preservationist wing, as opposed to the majority devoted to development or "growth" interests. As the most senior supervisors, with long service to the Napa community before that, both have have a connection to and a first-hand appreciation of the battles waged to protect the county from urbanization, in the WDO, measures J and P and the 2007 drafting of the current General Plan. As such, over these last 4 years, as changes to the other 3 seats have pushed the board in an even more development-oriented direction, community groups opposed to that development trajectory have looked to them to be allies and defenders of Napa's rural heritage. Unfortunately, in an age of corporate and plutocratic takeover of the wine industry and the push for tourism development to increase profits, they have not been as supportive as needed for the growing efforts to slow the profit- and wealth-fueled degradation of Napa's rural environment and way of life.
Supervisor Dillon is being challenged by former Farm Bureau Board Member Cio Perez for her seat on the board. In 2016, Sup. Mark Luce was successfully challenged from the right by development interests over his flirtation with the idea of banning further wineries in the AP. Now Sup. Dillon is being challenged from the left for not making an effort to deal with the urbanizing forces that Sup. Luce had recognized. Both Sups. Dillon and Luce, each nitty-gritty policy wonks, have honestly sought compromises with a nod to both conservationists and developers. Unfortunately, in this age of developer supremacy (from the President on down!) which pushes for ever more profitable uses of our natural resources and rural heritage, communities throughout the county have been forced to rise in grass-roots efforts to counter the threat. And they need an advocate on the board for their interests.
Sup. Dillon, often a defender of Napa's rural heritage in comments, has unfortunately voted wth the "growth" majority in most of the damaging development issues in the county in recent years: 2008 revisions to the general plan to equate tourism with agriculture, revisions to the WDO in 2010 to allow more tourism at wineries, Napa Pipe to allow the largest single urban expansion in Napa history, the Sear Expansion to increase construction materials needed for development, Walt Ranch to allow vineyard estate development on 2300 acres of undeveloped woodland, the denial of the APAC recommendations that sought to curtail winery-event center proliferation, the addition of winery tourism to the County's definition of agriculture, and numerous contested winery projects like Woolls Ranch, Girard, Bell, Caymus, being proposed to increase tourism development. All of these projects were opposed by concerned citizens on the basis of the damage they, and the urbanization they will induce, will do to rural character, resources and environment of the county. The decision to support these projects represents a repudiation of the commitment to maintaining a rural, agricultural-based rather than urban, entertainment-based economy. Sup. Dillon, in these decisions, has not protected "the agricultural lands and rural character that we treasure" envisioned in the General Plan.
A small hope may exist that Sup. Dillon, if re-elected, will liberate her preservationist roots and be the voice and vote that Napa needs if it is to remain a sustainable rural-agricultural enclave in the Bay Area for the next 50 years. Her appointment to the planing commission, Anne Cottrell, is proving to be a consistent voice for that preservation ethos against the base commercialism of the wine and tourism industries, and gives a glimmer of hope.
But right now, seeing equivocating decisions that tout preservationist bona fides while supporting more development, that's a big if. Unfortunately, needing developer support to fend off a challenge from a more staunchly preservationist challenger on the left may make her future support of conservation issues even less likely.
Cio Perez, with deep farming roots and a long and vocal commitment to support the original ideals of the Ag Preserve to insure that agriculture remains the prime economic engine of the county in the face of tourism and good-life urbanization, now appears to better represent the aggressive defense needed to protect the Ag Preserve ideals against the assault. Cio Perez at this point is a surer choice to fight to preserve Napa's agricultural economy and rural environment which is the source of its renown and the treasure of its citizens.
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