The City of Loyalton has two 4-year term positions and three candidates: Dorie Gayner, incumbent Sarah Jackson and Nancy Rogers. Jerry Gerow is running unopposed for the 2-year term.
SARAH JACKSON is the incumbent in the 4-year term and currently sitting as Mayor. She was raised in Truckee, joined the Army for six years and moved to Loyalton in 2003. Sarah has locally volunteered with 4-H and many other community service organizations. She previously served as an appointed Loyalton City Council member from 2007-2009 and did not run again when her term was up. She was again elected in 2018 for her current term and is employed full-time at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Since she has been on the Board she has implemented budgets every year when there previously hadn’t been annual budgets. Sarah was excited about the audit being on track as it was 3-4 years behind when she started. Regarding challenges, she said money is always an issue and the City has very little of it. Other challenges were ancient infrastructure, and past due water and sewer accounts.
Sarah gave a current update on the water issue: at the end of June the 10” main line had a small leak which increased to a large leak and then grew significantly within a couple weeks. They’ve been in contact with the state and finally put the fix into place about 10 days ago and have been experiencing significant bumps in the road in finding very aged systems. The first part of the fix was the Willow Street leak fixed and is holding. The major six-inch line on First and Church Street has been fixed and is holding. On this day they repressurized Mill Street and will see a lot of excess water so they don’t blow the line and cause more leaks. Testing would resume Tuesday. Currently the City is on a Boil Order until clear with the State with no positive tests. She spoke of great support from Farr West Engineers, RDC, Sheriff’s Office, Sierra County OES and Tim Beals with Planning and Public Works has been great. State OES has been involved. Leonards have been getting extra water, and Grocery Outlet in Truckee with delivering bottled water. She’s hoping to recover some costs through a disaster recovery grant.
DORIE GAYNER moved here in 2020. She stated even though she hasn’t been in the City of Loyalton very long she has seen some issues that she could help manage with a good City Council team. Dorie has a Masters degree in administration and a degree in education. She did 30 years in the educational arena. She and her husband own G-4 Environmental which does forest maintenance and restoration and watershed protection. Dorie has seen some of the issues after coming to City Council meetings and believes the town needs more businesses and jobs to increase the tax base. She has a broad knowledge in business and service and is interested to listen to people and what they want. Dorie will look to experts to find what an answer is if she doesn’t already know. Priorities would be to fix the infrastructure that is so old and bring in jobs as well as community events would be important. Dorie feels she brings fresh eyes to the City, and as an educator has worked in teams and done a lot of strategic planning.
NANCY ROGERS was not present at Candidate’s Night.
The City Clerk position has two candidates: incumbent Kathy LeBlanc and Bill Mertton.
KATHY LeBLANC was not present for Candidate’s Night.
BILL MERTTON is relatively new, buying his home in Loyalton in 2018. He was born in Canada, naturalized when he was 21. Bill was educated in the Bay Area, went to UC Berkeley, got a Bachelors Degreee, did some post graduate work at Hayward State in order to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist. He thinks he could be a fit for the City Clerk as a scientist in the lab they have to keep records, and procedures that have to be up to date. They get inspected every couple years and have to be able to find info at any time. He’s always wanted to do some elected office and been very interested in the water here for drinking and firefighting and discovered records are not always available. Bill would like to do this job and organize those records so City Council has them. He is impressed with what the council has been doing and would like to do anything he can to help. Bill is retired from his Bay Area job and works night shifts at Truckee Forest Hospital laboratory but available in Loyalton daily. He has ideas and would like to be a support and has been attending the Council meetings for 4 ½ years.
It was clarified during discussion that Kathy LeBlanc holds two positions: Deputy City Clerk and elected City Clerk. Kathy would not lose her job if Bill is elected.
Sierra Plumas Joint Unified School District has two district vacancies: District 2 has two candidates, Annie Tipton and Adrienne Anila. District 4 has two candidates, Kelly Champion and Jesse Whitley.
ANNIE TIPTON grew up in Sierraville and graduated from LHS. She went to Chico state and got degrees in education and ag business. She has a multiple subject credential and been in education for over 10 years. She currently works for Long Valley Charter School in Portola. Annie is very vested in the community and has a 2nd grader and a kindergartner in Loyalton. She has coached, is involved in the local church, and served in many offices and on local boards. What motivated her to run was seeing the Board pitted against teachers and parents. She felt it was not a cohesive unit and leadership on the Board is something desperately needed. Annie also stated Loyalton has had some of the biggest incoming kindergarten classes and worries how they will be accommodated as they grow into the high school. She would like the junior high to be separate from the high school. Annie stressed the need for facts behind decisions made on the Board. On learning problems caused by COVID, Annie stated they were very lucky schools have focused on the gap made through COVID. She stated there were a lot of testing tools school districts can use and look at utilizing money for intervention teachers and programs. Annie recognized Downieville has its own set of needs and help for their teachers and the principal position needs to be filled.
ADRIENNE ANILA grew up in Santa Rosa and has been in the area since 2012. She’s been a teacher since 2005, mostly middle school and some high school. Adrienne taught in Quincy, Loyalton, Downieville and is currently teaching in Portola. She would like to see teachers and principals get the support they need from district admin to be able to do their jobs for kids. On COVID and distance learning, Adrienne stated school is not just the content kids learn and need intervention to fill gaps and build skills. They need District oversight that is putting resources where they need to be in teacher’s hands and would help with that oversight piece if elected. On school security, Adrienne stated research shows active shooter drills are great at giving kids nightmares. They have gates at C. Roy Carmichael school in Portola that are locked during the school day; in Loyalton she stated there are “certainly things to address.”
KELLY CHAMPION moved here from Truckee in 2001 and bought a home on Mill Street. She has an 8-year-old and a kindergartner and volunteers a lot has an athletic instructor. Kelly coached volleyball and basketball in Portola and in Loyalton. She’s a self-employed accountant, works part time for Sierra County Children and Families Commission and is the District Clerk for Sierra County Fire Protection District #1. Kelly has also assisted the City of Loyalton in 2010 on fiscal needs. She felt a lack of leadership and unity on the Board. Now that there is a vacancy she is excited to run. Kelly doesn’t have an educational background but studied human development in college and taken a lot of courses as an athletic instructor. If elected she feels she can bring her background and experience in government agencies and public transparency. Kelly is also versed in small county funding issues and would like to see more communication on the Board. She spoke of Downieville’s and Loyalton’s very old facilities and stated they need to create a long-range plan so there’s a bright future for students. Kelly said they have a lot of challenges but also sees a lot of opportunity. The purpose of the board is to represent the public and Kelly did not see the public represented well. COVID was really hard on the students and staff and there is a lot to recover from. She felt the board needed to react better to that type of crisis.
Jesse Whitley was sick and did not attend.
BELLE STARR SANDWITH, candidate for Assembly District 1 is running against Assemblywoman Megan Dahle. She grew up at Donner Summit and went to Truckee High School. She has a Bachelors of Science from UNR in Public Health Education. She is running because no one else would and is “tired of getting burned out of the forest.” Her biggest concern is fire and forest health where we have a million acres of burned forest. She stated a need to keep firefighters here and would like special funding for firefighting. Belle stated most of the water comes from our mountains and we are the “blood and lungs of California” in caring for this land. She’s driven enough miles in the last two weeks to go to Kansas City and said most of it was through fire scar. “We have to protect our water,” she urged. She felt redistricting has been crazy all throughout the state. Her passion is mental health and the need to do something about it. She felt rural districts need a team of grant writers at the state level.
THE GENERAL ELECTION is Tuesday, November 8th.