MENDOCINO Co., 3/20/23 — Mendocino County’s District 4 Supervisor Dan Gjerde, who has held the position since 2013, announced in January he would not run for re-election when his term expires at the end of 2024, and last week, current Fort Bragg City Councilmember and Mayor Bernie Norvell announced his plan to throw his hat in the ring for the seat.
Norvell released a statement with his campaign announcement, which is included below, and has started a campaign Facebook page. He is the first candidate to announced their intention to run for the Fourth District’s open seat in the 2024 election.
Here’s the announcement from Norvell:
Today I announce my candidacy for 4 th District Supervisor in 2024. After much thought and consideration over the last year, along with multiple conversations with community members and current county supervisors, I respectfully reach out to you for your support as I look forward to bringing my experience, knowledge, and “can do” attitude to the county board of supervisors. I am a lifelong resident of Mendocino county. Like most of you, I feel privileged to live on the Mendocino coast and believe this is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I’ve always felt our most admirable quality is the people within the community. However great our communities are, there is always room for improvement and forward thinking to change our future. Many of my mornings are spent running through the city of Fort Bragg, where I have been the mayor for the past 2 years and city council member since 2016. I value this time spent running before the sun comes up, as it is where I begin thinking and planning my progressive solution based approach. As many of you know, my personality is reserved in nature with an enthusiasm for serving my community and building positive relationships with those I work closely with. As a city council member and mayor, I have focused my time and efforts into making the city of Fort Bragg a safer and better place to work, live, and visit. In building a network of community members and stakeholders, we have taken action to implement multiple advanced solutions that have yielded positive results for all. My plan is to bring this same approach to the county level as 4th district supervisor and create an even greater impact on our communities. The county currently faces many difficult issues: a budget shortfall, increasing costs of the jail expansion, cannabis production and programs, as well as housing needs and water resiliency. It is my belief that collectively we cannot solve our problems until we recognize our inadequacies, identify plans that are not working, and start making concrete decisions that result in evident change. In my time as mayor and a city council member, one issue I have worked tirelessly to remedy is our homeless situation. Receiving multiple calls per week about transients in the downtown area and neighboring encampments, it was clear something needed to be done. As a member of the Public Safety Committee I addressed our service providers on the issues surrounding the year-round homeless shelter and how to bring the provider into compliance with their permit. I also worked closely with recently retired police Chief John Naulty and our current captain Thomas O’Neal to devise a better plan to serve our homeless population through more effective policing and definitive solutions. In July 2018, I petitioned our council to adopt the Marbut Report as our principle guidelines for addressing homelessness, transients, and vagrancy. We successfully applied these guidelines to our policies and approach over the ensuing years. This led to the formation of a team of well-trained community members operating our Crisis Response Unit (CRU). The Crisis Response Unit is solely dedicated to the homeless and transient population, using a multi faceted, holistic approach that connects individuals with available resources for mental health, addiction, life mentorship, and the operation of extreme weather shelters. We applied and received a $375,000 one-year grant to jump start these services which have already provided many examples of proven success. CRU also participates in the follow-up of all cases to ensure long lasting results and change for each individual case. Through these collaborative efforts, police services being dedicated to homelessness was reduced by 44% within a year and arrests declined by 57%. Not only did it allow our public safety departments to better allocate resources towards the community, we also had numerous success stories of individuals receiving proper mental health and addiction services, being reunited with families, and the rebuilding of lives. Simultaneously, I took on the task of creating a safer and more efficient emergency weather shelter with the help of community members and service providers. After a few years of working
different shifts in the shelter, I asked the city council and police department to bring the shelter in- house. In 2021 we did just that. Teaming up with hotel owners, the county, and our 4 th and 5 th district supervisors, we devised a caring and fiscally responsible plan that was established and implemented for creating a temporary shelter. I am proud to say that this approach continues to be a success again this winter. As my knowledge and experience grew, it became evident that mental health in our community was a serious issue that lacked adequate resources. In 2020, I called on the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee (aka Measure B Committee) as well as the county board of supervisors to commit $967,000 to subsidize a four-bed Crisis Respite Facility. The facility provides 24 hour care for anyone 18 years or older, experiencing a temporary mental health crisis. Here we are able to provide a safe place for people to get local assistance and much needed treatment. After 2 years of lobbying, I was able to get RCS and Adventist Health to collaborate on a dedicated facility and management for the Crisis Respite Program that will open in early 2023. Two of the issues the county faces; budget and jail expansion. I look forward to exercising my existing experience on creating an even bigger impact on presenting a balanced budget for the county. In my first year on city council I rejected the idea of passing a deficit budget as it seemed irresponsible. Every year since, I have worked hard and succeeded in taking a more conservative approach to approving a balanced budget. Not only are properly allocated funds and balanced budgets crucial to any well run organization, it will also be crucial in creating funding for the jail expansion Being proactive on preventing foreseeable issues has become a strength that I wasn’t aware of until looking back at my time spent as mayor of Fort Bragg and an active city council member. I do however also look forward to streamlining basic processes with up to date technology. One area where I believe we can make a larger impact is within the building permitting process. When staffers are still handing in paper copies and carrying them from one department to another, I see this as a misuse of valuable resources on a process that can easily be streamlined. When housing is a major crisis, getting people building again is a huge priority and any way of making this easier for people is a must. Having an integral part in bringing our new wastewater treatment plant online has shown me expansion, growth, and technology is key when striving to achieve more effective ways of doing things. That preparedness is imperative for all, as the people of our community rely on it when emergencies and crises occur. As I continue on my journey to serve others, I will be steadfast in my solution based approach and my continued focus and dedication as mayor. Knowing that my results speak far louder than my words. All I ask for is your vote and support so that we may carry on together in creating better lives and environments for generations to come.
Thank you, Bernie Norvell