District 5 Supervisor Mike Reagan is up for re-election come June. Reagan has held the county seat since 2005, and his opponent, former Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson is putting forth all that he can to knock him off.
“I continue to be out there interacting with members of the voting community and doing the job I was elected to do,” said Reagan. “I’m sure (he) will try to articulate what he did in his 10 years, but I’m confident I’ve done a good job in this district.”
Reagan will not go quietly, and in this exclusive interview has provided substantial information as to why he has served the county well enough to earn four more years.
The Delta Protection Commission and Delta Counties Coalition are two organizations that Reagan has been heavily involved in – fighting for proper representation at the state and federal level for Delta communities that are often lost in the discussion of what will happen with the state’s most precious resource.
“The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is basically a wish list from the water exporters to be able to pump regularly at the highest level they’ve ever been able to attain in the past,” said Reagan. “This would be disastrous for the water quality in our part of the world.”
He went on to discuss the restoration of tidal habitat – something good in theory, but in the current proposals, a great deal of farmland and protected habitat would be flooded out to create more water for down south.
“The Delta Plan basically wipes out the Suisun Marsh and the Yolo Bypass,” said Reagan. “The lion’s share of that happens here. They want to connect Jepson Prairie to the Suisun Marsh, essentially wiping out Highway 12 and 113.”
Reagan continued that the new Central Valley Flood Plan wipes out a great deal of the Yolo Bypass, and directs floodwaters south – aimed toward Rio Vista. The proposed peripheral canal pumps are scheduled to be placed in the Pocket area of Sacramento and the Clarksburg region.
“That’s the biggest threat to water quality in our area, and it creates an enormous expense to prevent Rio Vista from becoming an island,” he said. “Our only hope is to work with the federal authorities to make sure one part of California isn’t cannibalized for the rest of California.”
The fifth district Supervisor recently testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the needs for a Delta National Heritage Area. While it isn’t the most important component of saving the Delta, it is a way to gain added protection and much needed publicity to the region.
“This is a way to help brand the area as a destination recreation area,” he said.
Reagan discussed the complexity with which the BDCP and DSC operate and how this is making it possible for legislation that failed at the hands of the voters – possible through government agencies. Each document produced by either agency is hundreds of pages long.
With the recent conclusion by FEMA that Solano County levees are not up to the 100-year floodplain standard, farmers and folks that want to build or improve their buildings will be forced to raise the foundation and create an area where water can flow underneath the structure of the building.
While there isn’t much land that can be developed in Solano County, this will force Ryer Island residents to improve their project levees – which will solely rely on the state.
Focusing on Rio Vista, there is no near term plan to improve Highway 12 from Azevedo Road on in. Reagan discussed his involvement with the improvements that were just completed west of Rio Vista, greatly reducing the number of traffic accidents since its completion last year.
“It’s going to take years of developing the plans and rationale,” said Reagan. “On the Solano Transit Authority website, it is important to take the survey on Highway 12. People have got to do that. The safety issues are what got the improvements done. Everybody has got to be on the same message.”
When asked about drilling, Reagan noted that natural gas is what built Rio Vista.
“There is an enormously valuable resource beneath the surface,” he said. “You’ve got to do it safely, and you’ve got to do it. We’re going to have to shift a lot of our trucks to natural gas power. We have hundreds of years of capability, we need that economic activity and we need that energy extracted and exported.”
Reagan feels that flood protection for Rio Vista is the most important aspect to the City’s well being. This is because of the millions of acre feet of water that they intend to be shipping directly toward Rio Vista and divert away from Sacramento.
“They’re diverting that water and aiming right at Rio Vista,” said Reagan.
He explained that Rio Vista needs to develop more industry like California Vegetable Specialties, the Army Base Restoration RVERS project, as well as hopefully getting a fish farm in the next few years.
“The City has to put these entitlements in place, and show that they are welcoming toward these industries,” he said.
Reagan cites the housing industry, decreased commercial services and decreased property values as the biggest challenge facing Solano County. He also highlighted that there are several areas in which Solano is growing nicely. Those include a billion dollars in new medical facilities, the growth on Travis Air Force Base and increase in manufacturing.
“We see some bright spots in the economy,” he said.
The Supervisor also talked about the dissolution of all redevelopment agencies and what will be required of cities that take over property once formerly in that category. He feels it will be devastating, and that the state made the wrong decision.
“The state is not our friend,” he exclaimed.
Reagan’s opponent Thomson has accused him of raising salaries in the county, and he quickly responded.
“We have been unwinding the deals put in place when Thomson was in,” he said.
The creation of the management incentive program, Reagan states was created when Thomson was also on the board of supervisors in August of 2001. In December of 2009, executive and senior management’s MIP was reduced by a third.
“When we reversed things back to the way it was before they created this monster, we unwound all the complicated things they installed in the past. Our employees have taken a net decrease in compensation.”
Reagan shows a chart that since 2008, an 18.5 percent decrease in the workforce has taken place across the board. He cites going for a competitive, middle of the range salary to keep up with regional employment opportunities.
“What the county had been doing was picking up the employee side, and the managers were all tied to the agreements with the largest union – whatever that contract said, that’s how they would be treated. We’ve decoupled that.”
Reagan has taken away pick up of retirement pay away earlier, capping healthcare coverage – overall a 12 percent hit to all departments. Senior management is up to 15 and even 30 percent reduction in compensation.
“Until we start seeing a turnaround in the economy, this will continue,” said Reagan. “We don’t have a deficit, but you have to accordion the workforce to the size of the hit.”
Biggest achievements in the last four years include getting the county to understand it had a role in getting the economy to grow. Reagan felt the county just provided services and let the cities figure everything else out.
“That doesn’t work,” he said. “They hadn’t updated the general plan since the ‘80’s. We got that done. We went in and we have a role, and the economic summits got everyone to understand they have to pull their weight. Getting us to be part of the solution and step up to our responsibility is big.”
Finally Reagan discussed the importance of providing programs for seniors and youth alike. While he feels that youth programs have been good, with the aging Solano population – he feels that equal care should be provided to seniors.
“I’ve changed the direction on what the county has been doing, just in our reserve policy,” he said. “We’ve doubled our target and put the money in the bank. It’s not just me, it’s a team.”
Reagan explained that he has been in leadership positions since he was 22, and that he tries as much as he can to be a model citizen. In addressing underage drinking in Rio Vista, he noted that it becomes a part of the culture and that the community culture needs to be intolerant of self-destructive behaviors.
“It’s got to be the adults in the community, adults have to set guidelines of what acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are. It’s not something the cops can stop. Adults have to take on the responsibility.”
Back to the campaign, Reagan feels he has the county on the right path, and that Thomson is getting backed by the public employee union, which he feels is trying to cut everyone except them.
“That doesn’t quite work,” said Reagan. “They bankrolled his last campaign. They put in $217,000 into his unsuccessful campaign last time. I had to withstand that barrage last time, I think I will do as good or better this time.”
He cites his major contributions from the business community, and he feels they are the ones that make the community.
“The government is in service to the community,” he said. “Continuing to talk to people and answer their questions and getting their confidence is how you win an election and get the confidence from the people.”