SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) One seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is up for grab in November. Incumbent John Leopold is facing challenger Manu Koenig for District One Supervisor, which represents Live Oak, Soquel, and the western side of Capitola.
50% of the vote was needed to be elected in the March Primary. Leopold tallied 45% and Koenig came in second place out of six candidates at 30% of the vote.
“I’m a problem solver, not a politician,” Manu Koenig said.
“My experience in office is critical to helping our community move forward,” John Leopold said.
John Leopold is seeking his fourth term on the board of supervisors. Since the pandemic he says he’s led the way on important issues like protecting renters and writing code to move businesses outdoors.
“I wrote the eviction moratorium and created a $1 million assistance fund, because I realized very early on the economic impact of this virus would have on our community,” Leopold said.
Challenger Manu Koenig argues there’s still more to be done, and it's time for change.
“Whether it's the pandemic, the fires or racial injustice and addressing Black Lives Matters the need for solutions has become more urgent, and a great example is the need to improve our planning department after the fires,” Koenig said.
He says the top three issues facing the county are rebuilding after the CZU August Lightning Complex Fires that destroyed more than 900 homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, maintaining roads and making them safer for evacuations, and addressing homeless solutions.
“We can’t expect people to deal with long term addiction issues or recover from other traumas if they’re going back to the street every night,” Koenig said.“We got 10 and a half million dollars from the state last year had some great opportunities to put some long term solutions in place, but didn’t didn’t build a single home.”
At the top of Leopold’s agenda is protecting residents from COVID-19, dealing with racial inequalities in Santa Cruz and addressing climate change including plans for wildfires and sea level rise.
“Adopted a local coastal plan to have the most extensive tool box anywhere around California around sea level rise,” Leopold said. "I’ve already started working on shaded fuel breaks up in the rural part of my district. We changed our funding for underground utilities from aesthetics to preventing wildfires.”
Koenig has worked at several tech start ups and most recently was the Executive Director of Santa Cruz County Greenway. The non profit’s goal is to turn the rail corridor into a scenic bike path.
“I collected over 10,000 signatures as the executive director in favor of building a trail and not a train. We passed a ballot initiative in the city of Capitola,” Koenig said.
“I’m very proud of my work in providing resources for the unincorporated areas I represent. That meant building a boys and girls club, building new parks and bring the Sheriff's center to improve response times,” Leopold said.