The Boulder Creek native, who touts his experience as a community leader and advocates for citizen participation and transparency in local government, said he was working hard to gather voters, endorsements and feedback from the community.
“I’m walking every day; I’m making phone calls every day,” he said. “I think the campaign is going very well.”
Hammer said that his experience working with the county’s planning department in his day job as a building contractor, coupled with his service with a laundry list of community organizations, made him an ideal candidate for the supervisor’s seat.
“I have first-hand experience (working with the county),” he said. “I’m the only candidate who has been working with the planning department in the last 15 years.”
He has sat on the boards of Mountain Community Resources, the Valley Women’s Club and the Boulder Creek Recreation and Parks District.
Hammer said the focus of his campaign was to promote inclusion.
“When it comes down to it, it’s the local connection,” he said. “I like people to be part of the process, no matter what level. What are they getting for their tax dollars?”
One of his challenges as a candidate, he said, was the notion that his focus as supervisor would be entirely on the San Lorenzo Valley.
“The perception is that I’m all SLV and I don’t care about Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, and that’s just not true,” he said. “(The San Lorenzo Valley’s) only voice is a supervisor.”
Hammer noted that while large swaths of the Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz sections of the 5th District have city governments to serve them, the unincorporated areas — including the entire San Lorenzo Valley — rely exclusively on the county for leadership.
“The 5th District is comprised of three different, unique areas and subcultures: the San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, and Santa Cruz,” he said. “For how different they all are, they’ve got a lot of the same issues and complaints.”
Those issues, Hammer said, include the decrepit state of many of the county’s roads, economic growth, adequate funding for fire protection and law enforcement, water issues and building-permit reform.
“It’s about water, it’s about growth and it’s about roads,” he said. “If I want to win, then I’ve got to get my message out.”
‘We need to be talking about conservation — real conservation’
Water and environmental concerns are one of the cornerstones of Hammer’s campaign. He said conservation and education about water use should be a countywide goal, with an eye toward achieving water neutrality.
“We need to take a look at water from a bigger perspective,” he said. “We’re lucky; we live in an area that has ample water, if it’s used properly.”
Even goals such as building and economic growth, Hammer said, must not ignore the need to conserve and responsibly use natural resources.
“We need to be talking about conservation — real conservation,” he said.
‘It’s about having allies’
One of the biggest problems Hammer said he would like to fight as supervisor is what he described as the difficulty of access to — and lack of knowledge about — resources available to county residents, particularly health care.
“We need to bring health services out to the rural areas of the 5th District,” he said. “For some, it’s a 45-minute trip to (the county’s Health Services Agency).”
Hammer said his background in local community service made him ideally suited to connect people and groups.
“That’s my strength, which is referring people and having a good working knowledge of the organizations out there to help people,” he said. “It’s about having allies, how to get things done, who to send people to.”
‘You educate people by involving them in the process’
Hammer said he believed maintaining an open dialogue between county leaders and constituents was essential for an effective system, in which people can see their government in action and their parts in it.
“We need to keep citizens involved in the process, and we need to stay transparent through it,” he said. “Let’s have a community meeting and let’s talk about it.”
He said public forums were the key to getting support for change within the community.
“You bring people in, show them what their community has to offer and present a road map,” Hammer said. “We need to educate and empower ourselves to implement needed changes.”
As supervisor, he would seek out and pursue policies not only to entice businesses to the 5th District, but also to keep them in business once here.
“(Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley) are both bedroom communities, and as a result, a lot of our needs end up being met over the hill,” Hammer said. “We need to focus more on keeping existing local business here and create an environment to expand.”
Hammer said getting the district’s communities to work together on a grassroots level for mutual benefit was essential as local self-sufficiency was becoming the order of the day in California.
“The budget crisis isn’t over, and the cuts are not over. The state’s not going to help us,” he said. “Do I think we can come up with an outcome that’s tolerable? Yes.”
‘What our community needs is local experience’
As counties statewide learn to fend for themselves and as Sacramento’s budget woes show no signs of improvement, Hammer argued that it was the role of local leaders to pick up the slack.
“There’s a big difference between local experience and statewide experience,” he said. “I feel what our community needs is local experience.”
Hammer said his strength was having spent most of his adult life working in the community.
“I think being born and raised in the 5th District and being active in that time locally makes me the best candidate with the most understanding of this diverse district.
“We need a local voice, at a local level, making local decisions.”
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