North County residents Bob Peters and Tim Fesko have been fighting since almost the beginning of the year for the open District 4 Mono County Supervisor seat, after the June election resulted in neither of them getting 50 percent plus one of the vote.
The campaigns are headed into their final six weeks, and both men are pounding the pavement again, trying to keep the race fresh and memorable some nine months after it started.
District 4 begins at the Conway Summit area and stretches all the way to the Nevada border—it now also includes some of Mammoth-some of the businesses and residences north of S. R. 203.
It is a mostly rural district with the highest concentration of older and elderly residents in the county. The small communities that line U.S. 395—Walker, Coleville, Bridgeport, and the Antelope Valley communities—have been struggling for decades to survive and the recession didn’t make it easier.
Bob Peters thinks this economic slowdown is the primary responsibility and challenges a District 4 Supervisor faces.
Some in his district criticized him, including challenger Fesko, for supporting and promoting county involvement in year-round air service subsidies, but he makes no apology for it.
“I hear the criticism, but the county has subsidized a lot of other areas and this is no different,” he said. “The value of air service has been proven.”
He said people who argue that the service only benefits Mammoth Lakes are missing the bigger point—that Mammoth is the economic engine for the rest of the county and what benefits Mammoth benefits the county, as the property tax revenues that goes into the county’s general fund is then used to provide services to the rest of the outlying areas of the county.
For example, the larger the general fund is, the more money is available for things like a community center in Walker, or parks or repairs to streets in Bridgeport.
“If you don’t recognize it, you’re out of touch with what the reality is,” he said.
He thinks he’s a better candidate than Fesko because of his experience.
“You can’t run on promises,” he said. Peters served as a District 4 Supervisor for about nine months, after he was appointed to the seat by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the spring of 2010, after former Supervisor Bill Reid died about one year into his four-year term.
“You have to have the respect of the voters, a record of proven success. I’ve done it before and I will do it again, if I am elected.”
Peters is the owner of the Bridgeport Inn and is heavily involved in North County boards, activities, and events. Prior to moving to Mono County, Peters was a well-recognized filmmaker and director.
Fesko thinks the county has to deal with even more issues than the economy.
“There is a lot of discontent at the county right now,” he said. “People are afraid to speak out. Morale is at an all-time low.”
In a county as small as Mono County, the county government is the second biggest job provider in the county (after Mammoth Mountain Ski Area), and this is no small issue.
“Everybody either has a friend who works for the county, or has a family member who does,” he said.
“I have to blame the current board of supervisors,” he said. “They are at the top of the pyramid. They need to step up and take control of the county.”
He said his background and experience makes him a better candidate than Peters. He is the owner of Meadowcliff RV and Resort (near Walker), and has a background that allows him to work with and understand a wide gamut of issues the county is involved in, from public works to IT issues to contracting and architectural issues, he said.
“I’ve dealt with so many of these things in hands-on situations, I understand how to solve the problems that face the county.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Bob Peters served the better part of two years after he was appointed as a county supervisor. He served about nine months, according to the county elections office. The Mammoth Times regrets the error.