For the seven candidates in the three Mono County Board of Supervisors races, this week is ground zero —and it all comes down to who has the most “kick.”
Voters go to the polls Tuesday, June 5. By midnight Tuesday, Mono County citizens should know who will occupy the three open county supervisor seats, barring a run-off election in the hot District 4 race.
It will be the end of a long marathon that began in the winter. Now it is up to the runners to provide that last big kick before the finish line.
“It’s in the Election Gods’ hands right now,” said District 2 incumbent Duane “Hap” Hazard.
“I’m still going out and meeting folks, but basically, this campaign is winding down. Running a campaign is like a roller coaster. One day you are up and you are getting positive feedback; the next day, someone challenges you or an issue comes up and you drop back down.”
He said he was glad there was no large-scale negative campaigning but the roll of rumors in a small community is not to be underestimated.
“It’s just something you have to keep in mind,” he said. “It’s often coming from the community and it’s a constant effort to stay ahead of and it reminds me why I hate campaigning. I am ready to work.”
“I will be spending the last few days prior to the election attempting to contact folks that I have missed so far,” said his contender, Fred Stump, pointing toward a weekend filled with door-to-door stops.
“Having never run for an elected position before, this process has had a learning curve,” Stump said. “From campaign filling and reporting requirements to material ordering and event organizing, I now have an appreciation for those that run for office.”
Nevertheless, Stump said, it’s an exhausting process. “I will be grateful when it is over.
“It takes conscious effort to maintain a positive message and not sink into the negative. I have refused to go there even when encouraged or invited by some to do so.”
In District 4, candidate Tim Fesko makes it seem like this week is no big deal.
“I will not rest until it is over,” he said. “And probably not even after that. This is for all residents and visitors of Mono County. They deserve the best and I will give that to them.”
He said the “big divide” between North County residents and Mammoth has never been less evident.
“Talking with so many people, especially those in Mammoth, has taught me just how much we really do have in common. People from all communities are worried about their day-to-day lives, the future of their local government and of their futures. The fact that things must not continue the ‘same old way’ is at the top of their list,” he said.
One of his two opponents, Bob Peters, is just as positive.
“This week has been just as busy as the last 12 weeks,” he said. “Calling supporters, knocking on doors, giving interviews and speeches. This has been a fun campaign for me, meeting lots of new people.”
District 3’s two candidates are both experienced county supervisors, and have, over the years, often supported similar policies.
But the race has exposed a difference between incumbent Vikki Bauer and challenger Tim Alpers, with Alpers clear that the county needs to take a much harder look at how it pays its at-will employees and its union employees.
How they deal with the last weekend may be another difference.
“This last week, I have just been staying busy as usual,” said Bauer. “Between county work, campaign events, route management and other meetings, I have chosen to continue my work with the county rather than campaign full time.
“Just because the campaign is in full gear doesn’t mean that the county workload stops, and I’m not sure people understand that. I learned this time around that a clean campaign is much easier on the psyche, but re-confirmed that all campaigns are like being on a roller coaster for several months and they won’t let you off.”
“I know every dog in Mammoth,” said her contender, Tim Alpers. “It’s like the last week before NCAA’s national signing day. When I was the assistant basketball coach at the University of Tulsa, it was an absolutely sleepless week.
“There’s a frenzy of activity; my wife can’t get near me; it’s like that and I’m approaching it the same way, but this time, I’m probably the most disciplined I’ve ever been in my life,” he said.
Alpers said a close brush with death (complications from a hip replacement procedure) several years ago has honed his intentions to a fine point.
“I know what I want,” he said, “We have a beautiful jewel here in this area, and we need to keep polishing it, need people to get involved in our system of government, make it work. It’s the best system there is.”
But if he wins, he said there are some serious challenges ahead.
“I knew things were bad out there, but I had no idea of the quiet desperation people are living in,” Alpers said.
“Our locals are a proud, self-reliant group, but this unrelenting poor economy is seriously affecting people and the suffering in the District 3 communities, especially in June Lake, due to the lack of income, is very deep, which is why I am going to make improving the human and business environment in Mono County a priority when I am elected.”
And on Wednesday?
It all will be over, except for the winners, who then must walk the talk.