After more than 15 years on the Sacramento Board of Supervisors, Don Nottoli is being challenged by Lovie Kirkland, a former deputy clerk for the board.
The election on June 8 will decide who will represent District 5, which includes Galt and South Sacramento. The county is grappling with a $181 million deficit.
Kirkland describes Nottoli as a career politician, and believes that candidates with no political experience bring a new perspective. But Nottoli said he has connections to communities throughout Sacramento County, and his record speaks for itself.
Her main frustration with the board is its inability to balance its budget, and there being a budget crisis every six months, Kirkland said.
"Our taxes keep getting raised. A lot of our career politicians keep going further up in government, and we keep being left behind," she said.
To solve the budget crisis, the county needs to stop relying on the state for money, and eliminate executives and management to get more front-line staff.
She said this is an important issue especially in law enforcement and with social workers and Child Protective Services. She plans to work with those agencies to get them to reduce management and add staff.
Specifically for Galt, she said she will focus on jobs.
"People are trying to make it check-to-check. It's absolutely ridiculous," Kirkland said.
Kirkland plans to work to find ways to give tax exemptions to small businesses.
One of the main issues that bothered her while she was the deputy clerk for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors was when the county approved a $1.6 million animal shelter. She said the county didn't have the funds and should not have moved forward with the shelter.
Kirkland can't pinpoint why she picked to run for office at the county level, but part of the reason is because she was upset that the incumbent has been in office for a decade-and-a-half.
"We need to have choices," Kirkland said. "We are not doing the American people or our local economy any good if we keep doing the same thing over and over."
The most pressing issue for Nottoli is finding a way to get through the financial crisis. He said one of the problems is that the county has taken on additional responsibilities because it provides essentially city services to more than 500,000 people in the unincorporated parts of the county. It provides infrastructure like streets and water, and services like animal control.
He believes the county needs to consolidate services to make government more efficient. One example is consolidating all the permits needed for development into one office.
"The goal is to get us back to fiscal stability, but also do that in a way to take into account quality of life for all our residents in Sacramento," he said.
He believes the county needs to work with economic development to bring more employment, especially green jobs, to the community.
The county can help employers by giving them electric rebates to put back into hiring. He also said the county should review its fees for development because, as building has declined and prices for infrastructure have gone down, the county might be able to decrease its fees.
Having worked for Sacramento County for 32 years, he believes his experience will help him find solutions to the problems facing the county.
"By no means do I know everything about all the communities, but I have a good understanding and working knowledge of those communities," he said.
Nottoli said that as a supervisor it is important to be responsive to the people who live in his district, whether it is working on a congested intersection or discussing how to improve social services.
Even though he is well aware of the political atmosphere for incumbents, he hopes people look at his record.
"This is something that I find not only great satisfaction in public service, but I also enjoy working every day to meet the challenges," he said.
About the candidates
Family: 15 years, married, four children.
Background: Kirkland was born in Texas but moved to South Sacramento when she was five years old.
Education: An associate's degree in basic business administration.
Work experience: Deputy Clerk for Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. She has also clerked meetings for the County Water Agency, the Sacramento Transportation Authority and the Fair Oaks Community Planning Council.
Family information: Married.
Background: Nottoli was born and raised in Galt and has been a lifelong resident.
Education: He graduated from the California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor's degree in government/jounalism.
Work experience: He was elected to the Sacramento Board of Supervisors in 1994. Before that, he served as chief assistant to former Fifth District Supervisor Toby Johnson for 16 years. He also was on the Galt City Council and served more than 17 years on the Galt High School Board of Trustees.