The impact of re-districting the supervisorial districts in Yolo County is about to be put to a test. Woodland’s Mayor Artemio Pimentel, 32, has announced that he will challenge longtime Supervisor Duane Chamberlain, 74, for the 5th District Supervisorial Seat.
In an interview with the Vanguard on Thursday afternoon, Artemio Pimentel directly challenged the policies and approach of the incumbent.
“I can do a better job with regard to being a supervisor that represents the 5th District,” Mayor Pimentel told the Vanguard. “The issue for me comes down to being able to be a collaborator and an effective communicator between the city of Woodland, the rural communities and the County of Yolo.”
Artemio Pimentel specifically mentioned what he called a lack of leadership by Supervisor Chamberlain on the water project.
“It’s a very important project for the city of Woodland. It’s an important project for agriculture in my opinion because the sooner that the cities get off of pumping ground water the more availability,” he said, there will be of groundwater for agricultural purposes.
The other issues he cited involved projects that reflected economic development for Woodland – the Gateway I and Gateway II projects.
“Both of those he’s opposed continuously,” he said, “I feel that that is the wrong approach especially when he’s representing such a large portion of the city of Woodland.”
He also cited Clark Pacific, which he believes has the ability to create 250-300 jobs in the City of Woodland. According to Mr. Pimentel, Duane Chamberlain has repeatedly opposed the project.
The project, he said, has wide support, and Mr. Pimentel said further, “That’s something that I just don’t understand, where his position is coming from and why he’s taken the position of opposing job development and job opportunities for the residents of Woodland.”
Artemio Pimentel also took issue with Mr. Chamberlain’s opposition on redistricting.
“He fought for Woodland to basically be broken up into three supervisorial districts when the Woodland City Council unanimously voted against it. We wanted to have two strong members of the Board of Supervisors – he disregarded our request.” Mr. Pimentel told the Vanguard that Duane Chamberlain fought for basically the preservation of the current district, which he considered a move for self-preservation over democracy. “I just don’t understand why some of the positions that he has taken have not been in the best interest of the city of Woodland.”
One of the critical positions that Duane Chamberlain has taken over the years has been his steadfast and consistent support for the preservation of farmland in the rural portions of Yolo County.
Artemio Pimentel argued that he and Duane Chamberlain “would be on the same page on that particular issue.” He said that he has advocated for “the protection of prime ag-land within the city of Woodland. I will continue to push for that and that will be one of my main goals as a county supervisor.”
When pressed as to whether his voting would be more similar to that of Supervisor Chamberlain or some of the other members of the Board of Supervisors on such issues, he acknowledged it would depend on a “project by project” basis.
“The issue for me is effectiveness,” he said. “Yes, you can have a county supervisor who votes against every single development and gets absolutely nothing for the rural communities and the locations where some of these projects could potentially be developed. That is easy to do.”
“What should be done and what Mr. Chamberlain and any supervisor should be doing is looking at ways of where we can compromise to make sure that we provide the most effective plan to actually preserve agricultural land while balancing some of the needs of the cities and some of the needs of the communities within the rural area,” he responded.
“It doesn’t do anyone any good for a county supervisor to just oppose a project and not be able to work with the rest of his colleagues,” Mr. Pimentel added. “That is going to be a big difference between Supervisor Chamberlain and myself.”
While the preservation of agricultural land and Mr. Pimentel’s challenge about Mr. Chamberlain’s alleged inability to work with others and compromise on economic development and other projects seems to be the primary issue that Mr. Pimentel is running on, there are other critical issues that face Yolo County as a whole and Woodland in particular.
One of the big issues that has occurred, with the budget crisis affecting Yolo County and state cutbacks to social services, has been the provision of social services.
Mayor Pimentel said that is one of the areas he needs to review: “As a county supervisor I’m going to review to prioritize what the biggest needs are especially within the situation that every agency is facing in every county, in every level of government.”
He spoke of the need to “leverage and build relationships with other agencies within the county to be able to properly serve the residents of not just the 5th District, not just the city, but the entire county as a whole.”
The other huge issue is the impact of AB 109 – the prison realignment bill – on local county resources.
Mr. Pimentel said that he is familiar with AB 109 and its impact on our communities, as well as the conversation that is going to take place on January 10 and discussion about whether and how to utilize state money to expand our current capacity of our county jails for the release of inmates through AB 109.
On the other hand, he does not have a clear position at this point, stating to the Vanguard, “I need to look at that issue a little bit further and study it further to see what’s going to be in the best interest of the county of Yolo.”
In concluding our interview, Artemio Pimentel reiterated, “One of the main reasons that I am running is that I believe that again, I can be a more effective County Supervisor for the 5th District and really facilitate and build on the relationship that has to exist between the cities and special districts and the county of Yolo.”
“I know that I can do a better job in that regard,” he said.
He also highlighted his agricultural background.
“Every opportunity that I have been given has been based on my parents and the work we have done in the county of Yolo for 33 years,” he said.
He added, “For someone to tell me that I don’t understand the importance of agriculture is incorrect.”