A supervisorial candidate is getting a head start on the November 2018 election, announcing he’ll file papers to run for the District 5 seat currently held by Tom Wheeler.
Oakhurst resident Marc Sobel, 58, said after several years of observing the workings of Madera County government, he feels the board of supervisors have lost their way and is determined to make public safety his No. 1 priority.
“Public safety needs to be a top priority again in our county by fully funding our fire department,” Sobel said. “The status quo of $5 million for our county fire department for many years is just not enough. As the number of volunteer fireman dwindle and the equipment aging to the point of becoming antique, we should be budgeting a minimum of $20 million a year, not $5 million, to effectively protect the public when they respond to fires, traffic accidents and medical aid emergencies. The county budget increased this current fiscal year by $32 million over the previous year, and our supervisors only increased the fire budget by a few hundred thousand dollars.”
Sobel also feels the board over the years has not been listening to its constituents, and he wants to open an office in the district if elected.
“They are not listening to citizens anymore on a number of issues,” Sobel said, pointing to recent issues such as the Off Highway Vehicle park in Coarsegold, the Vulcan Austin Quarry project and the proposed salary increase for the board. “I feel the board at times does not use common sense on some issues - it often seems like special interests rule the day when it comes to many actions by the board.”
Sobel said in addition to his public safety priority, he also wants to bring a ‘vision’ back for District 5.
“I envision Eastern Madera County being much more than a gas stop on the way to Yosemite,” Sobel said. “With carefully planned growth, we should be enticing light industry, a department store and advanced medical services such as a 24/7 urgent care facility to the Mountain Area and even a small hospital down the line. We need to think a little outside the box to make some of this happen, and still protect our rural way of life.”
Sobel said other issues such as drinking water quality, Highway 41 traffic congestion and expansion of the college district needs careful attention.
Sobel has often been critical of the Board of Supervisors, and has voiced his opinion in a number of guest commentaries in the Sierra Star over issues including mandatory trash collection he says is in violation of the state constitution, Yosemite Area Regional Transportation system (YARTS), increasing the bed tax and privatizing special districts.
Sobel bought a home in Bass Lake in 2000 and moved to the lake a couple years later, relocating from Southern California after he retired from the radio business. Sobel and his wife Cynthia live in Oakhurst. He has income property in the Mountain Area and manages several vacation rentals at Bass Lake.
Sobel has been involved in community service for 42 years, starting at the age of 16 as a volunteer blood delivery driver for the American Red Cross, and becoming a volunteer leader in the disaster service program. He now serves as a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force, with a rank of Major, as a senior pilot trainer and incident commander.
He is a member of the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club of which he is a past president, and is a former member of the Oakhurst Community Center Board of Directors. He has also served the past eight years as the president of the Bass Lake Home Owner Association and a director with the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce.
“Over the next few months I will be seeking out some like-minded residents of the Mountain Area to help with my campaign,” Sobel said.
Wheeler is halfway through his third four-year term, and has said he will not seek a fourth term.