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Primary 2020: Four vie for Monterey County District 4 supervisor seat

Monterey County board candidates (clockwise from top left) Alex Miller, Winifred Chambliss, Steve McShane and Wendy Root Askew.

Primary election day is fast approaching. In Monterey County, there is only one race being contested for the county board of supervisors. Four people are running for the District 4 seat, which stretches west of Salinas to the Pacific ocean.

One of the District 4 candidates is Steve McShane. A Cal Poly graduate, he’s been on the Salinas city council for over a decade. For his supervisor campaign, he says he’s focusing on affordable housing, reliable water sourcing and job accessibility.

McShane was a registered Republican for many years, but says he is now a Democrat.

“I'm running for a nonpartisan office, but I can certainly say in California, politics have moved much more towards Democratic leanings,” McShane told KCBX News. “I've found that it's a bigger tent, that embraces more of my concerns for the environment, balanced alongside smart planning and, ultimately, jobs.

McShane said he is excited about renewable energy, and played a role in the launch of Monterey Bay Community Power, which now supplies electricity to San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

“This is a tremendous opportunity where we have been able to offer rates for energy below what PG&E or Southern California Edison would charge,” McShane said.

McShane said that sustainable agriculture is “the way of the future.”

Candidate Winifred ‘Wini’ Chambliss is also on the ballot. “I’m hoping that people vote for me because of my background and experience; because I have a heart for the people; because I don't have ties to special interests,” Chambliss said.

Many know Chambliss from her time as president of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District board. She’s also worked with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.

Chambliss said her campaign is grassroots, and that she’s focusing on increasing representation in local government.

“I want to see somebody like me in government,” Chambliss said. “I want people of any race, any color, any gender, any background to be able to serve if they feel like they can represent the people.”

Chambliss said she is passionate about diversity, water access, affordable housing and homelessness.

Wendy Root Askew is also running. “I'm looking to bring smart, accountable, honest leadership to the county board of supervisors,” Askew told KCBX News.

For the past ten years, Askew has been a legislative analyst for the board of supervisors, and said she prioritizes public health, affordable housing and job accessibility.

“I take seriously the need to ensure that the decisions we make today are setting our county government up to be successful,” Askew said. “Not just tomorrow, but 10, 20, 30 years from now, so that when my son and grandchildren inherit this government, this bureaucracy that serves our community. That they're not inheriting deferred maintenance, but they're inheriting a government that has been responsibly managed."

Candidate Alex Miller said he wants to move the county’s administrative offices from Fort Ord to downtown Monterey to make it more accessible. He also said he will create a multicultural center.

“We're going to have a more accountable office, because people are going to be able to walk in, the doors are always going to be open and have regular business hours,” Miller said. “We're going to talk to the people, we’re going to engage the people.”

Miller also wants a spending cap on campaign finance.

“We just got the reports from this election, and my two main opponents...one has upwards of $400,000, and the other one has close to $200,000, and this is an obscene amount of money,” Miller said. “How somebody can be fair and just to the people when they go up there, with having that much campaign contribution, is really hard to believe.”

Two other seats on the Monterey County board of supervisors are also on the March 3 primary ballot, but both are uncontested. Luis Alejo is expected to continue representing District 1, and Mary Adams, District 5.

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