Supervisor candidate touts local involvement
by Joe Shreve
Apr 16, 2012 | 3445 views | 8 8 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Supervisor candidate Eric Hammer talks with  a 5th District constituent at the Boulder Creek Egg Hunt the day before Easter. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Supervisor candidate Eric Hammer talks with a 5th District constituent at the Boulder Creek Egg Hunt the day before Easter. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
On the campaign trail since November, Eric Hammer has kicked his run for the District 5 seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors into high gear as the June election draws closer.

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.”

To comment, email reporter Joe Shreve at, call 438-2500 or post a comment at
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Boulder Brad
May 16, 2012
What ever happened with that $5 million grant that the district paid $30,000 for? They applied twice, were denied the first time. What is the status now?
BC Mom
April 25, 2012
Seriously, still the Rec Dept junk? And since when is it dysfunctional unless you're one of the crazies who attacks everything they do? Unbelievable. And if anyone thinks McPherson can do better for the valley than Hammer, then they have never met McPherson. He's only looking out for his wealthy cronies, and more importantly, himself.
Bob Kravelckej
April 25, 2012
Thanks for the reminder. The Boulder Creek Rec Dept stuff and cronyism. And anger management issues.
April 24, 2012
Remember his answers during the candidate forum which was summerized in a local paper and as usual Hammer's consistant promoting by SLV news.

.. But there is such a thing as eminent domain(to take over the only 2 homes left on a block) and then you want to see old houses in this valley repaired and renovated.(not your earlier plans which was to tear down the other 4 homes) And town specific plans changed (so you can tear down the homes for under used Rec Center)...Sounds to me that you are still on the war path to take over the neighborhood south of town for a dysfunctional rec. center. Is this the time when you suggest that the rec district be turned over to county.

100 to 200 employee??? well is it 100 or 200 that is a big difference and would love to see your tax filings. If your business is so successful then why is it your kids went to state run free preschool. How about county taking back access of road up Western Drive that connects to Alba road for work a rounds when Hwy. 9 is closed or an emergency. Oh is that where you live. Hammer you are a true politician with your special intrest groupies
Willa Stone
April 21, 2012
I am very turned off by the attack language coming from Hammer's people against the other candidates. It's terribly low class.
April 19, 2012
Wow this guy will say anything to get elected. He is not interested in involving all of the community just his special interest groups.
A Hammer
April 17, 2012
Bertah Baird
April 16, 2012
Wow. I am surprised he admitted this is an area with ample water. We have abundant water, contrary to the fearmongering we see from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the FLOWbies. Thanks Eric.

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