There won't be blood, but there might be equivocation. Come November 8th, I won't be voting for Donald Trump nor will I be choosing to support Hilary Clinton. Keep that in mind when I get to the subject of the saying usually attributed to former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, “All politics are local.”
On the ocean side of this county nothing could be more local than the votes cast for three seats on Mendocino Coast District Hospital's (MCDH) Board of Directors. Seven candidates in all are vying for those three seats. Kaye Handley, Lucas Campos, Steve Lund, and Tom Birdsell are running for two four year terms on the MCDH Board. Tanya Smart, Kevin Miller, and Patty Jauregui-Darland are running for a single two year term.
Potentially, sixty percent of the Board members could be new faces by the time the calendar rolls into 2017. This is no small matter at a hospital only a year and a half removed from bankruptcy. Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bob Edwards and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Wade Sturgeon, came on the job almost immediately after the bankruptcy period.
For my money anyone on the Board of Directors before and/or during the bankruptcy is disqualified from recommendation in this election. Tom Birdsell is one such figure. He has been a board member since 2006. Patty Jauregui-Darland was on the MCDH Board from 2008 through 2014. Some responsibility for that bankruptcy has to fall on any Directors in place for that long before MCDH's bottom line went belly up.
That eliminates one candidate each from the short and long term seats. What we are left with is the old NBA bonus free throw situation: 2 to make 1 for the two year term and 3 to make 2 for a pair of four year seats on the MCDH Board. (For basketball historians, the bonus, or penalty, free throws were eliminated during the first Reagan administration.).
Many readers may be unaware that the League of Women Voters (LWV) held a candidates forum Friday evening, October 21st at the Fort Bragg Senior Center. I feel fairly confident about the use of the word “unaware,” given that the event was sparsely attended. After subtracting LWV members, two reporters, one nurse, a few doctors and spouses, a scant ten to twelve members of the public remained. In contrast, a similar 2014 candidates night was held at the far more spacious Cotton Auditorium and attended by upwards of two hundred voting folk.
The LWV's forum did little to separate the candidates. I am recommending Tanya Smart for the two year seat. She's endorsed by the person she's replacing, Dr. Kate Rohr. Ms. Smart has attended almost all the Board meetings and many committee meetings during 2016. She asks tough questions on the financial matters most important to the hospital's survival. Unlike some of the present MCDH Board members Smart wants to involve a broader spectrum of the voting public in the multi-million dollar decisions MCDH faces in the immediate future.
I will be voting for Kaye Handley for one of the four year MCDH Board seats. Handley has a decades long background in finance. In particular she specialized in assessing the needs of companies in debt crisis.
Here comes the equivocation. It's somewhat of a shame that Dr. Kevin Miller chose to run for the two year seat on the Board. If he were vying for one of the four year positions I'd recommend him ahead of Steve Lund, but, alas fate has dealt the hand. The second choice for the four year term boils down to Mr. Lund or Dr. Lucas Campos. Dr. Campos has been a resident barely long enough to qualify for a shot at the MCDH Board. Mr. Lund gets the nod by virtue of the fact that he was not a long term MCDH Board member before bankruptcy (as Birdsell was) and as a member of the Hospital Foundation he has actually been part of the process of raising money for MCDH, though the Hospital Foundation's total dollar amount raised over a thirty year period has been less than spectacular. Lund ran the Fort Bragg School District as superintendent for a decade or more. While there he spearheaded the passage of two school bonds at the ballot box, something that may be necessary for the continued operation of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital.
Dr. Miller is a member of the hospital's Medical Executive Committee (MEC), so even if he loses out at the voting booth he is still going to have a voice in matters. Dr. Campos needs a little more experience locally before this voter can recommend him.
Long time MCDH registered nurse (R.N.) Louise Mariana has provided the most succinct endorsement of the season, naming just two candidates for her wholehearted support: “Vote smart. Vote Handley, vote Smart!”