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Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor Candidates Answer Questions #2

thumb_2_Lynda Noreen split 600.jpg

Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor Candidates Answer Questions #2

Gazette Readers and Voters:

Both Noreen Evans and Lynda Hopkins have agreed to answer reader questions - 3 per month as we head toward the election. They will WRITE 300 word answers for print - then longer on which allows more room for longer answers to elaborate on their opinions.

THANK YOU for participating in our Supervisors election! Remember that this is 5th District but EVERY supervisor votes on issues countywide - who we vote for impacts the entire county.

Please submit your questions to - POST to - SEND to: Sonoma County Gazette, 6490 Front St #300, Forestville, CA 95436


Cannabis...(AUMA) Proposition 64: 

Adult Use of Marijuana Act: If voters support legalizing Cannabis in California this November for all purposes, not just medical use - how do you see Sonoma County coordinating with our neighbor counties to create consistent laws, taxes and licenses? Do you personally support this initiative? How do you respond to Federal Schedule 1 Classification of Marijuana? What do you consider the greatest benefit of legalization?

Noreen Evans

This November, California voters will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of cannabis by voting on Proposition 64: the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Medical cannabis has already been legalized in California, and counties and cities now have the authority to regulate and tax medical cannabis under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act authored by our own Assemblymember Jim Wood.

If AUMA passes in November, we must work closely with the local cannabis industry to make sure local laws address the flaws in AUMA. It is critical to adopt policy that will nurture the smaller, craft growers who have been operating in good standing for years in our region.

Research continues to show cannabis has many medicinal uses and is safe for adults to use recreationally. For both medical and recreational use, Sonoma County must act promptly and responsibly, however, to adopt regulations to ensure cannabis is properly safeguarded from children, to address social impacts resulting from cannabis use, and to encourage and support responsible local growers and producers.

As one of the largest producers of cannabis in the country, Sonoma County is well-positioned to be a leader. We must work closely with industry leadership to adopt local regulations for production and sale that are consistent with public health and welfare. We must also assess the appropriate fees for licensing and permitting of cannabis farms, producers and sellers, and prudently tax commercially produced products.

A small sales tax on commercially-produced recreational and medical cannabis will provide Sonoma County with a substantial new source of revenue that can be put to use repairing our roads, building affordable housing for our workforce and paying down our existing pension debt.

I look forward to working with the industry to make Sonoma County a leader in responsible production, sale and taxation of cannabis.

Lynda Hopkins

I support legalization of cannabis in California, and believe that it should be de-listed nationally. I’m an organic food farmer, and view cannabis as an agricultural commodity: one with tremendous potential influence over our agricultural landscape and economy in the years to come.

I’m concerned about the nitty-gritty details of AUMA because it favors large-scale corporate cannabis over small farmers. (I’m disappointed to learn that Jim Wood’s bill, which would have offered protections for small farmers, failed.) Therefore, it’s essential that we work together with the cannabis cultivation community to create progressive policies that protect our small farmers and discourage the corporatization of cannabis.

In other states that have legalized, the price of cannabis has dropped dramatically -- meaning that the anticipated tax revenues have not been realized. Given the cost of living in Sonoma County, and the extensive nature of cannabis cultivation already happening in West County, a crash in the price of cannabis may have serious ramifications for families who depend on this income. The cannabis industry will need to work to develop a Sonoma County brand -- and, like we do at local farmers markets, convince customers that sustainable agriculture is worth the investment. As government, we must work to ensure that best agricultural practices are implemented, while making this process streamlined and affordable for small producers.

While legalization and taxation will provide added revenue to the County,  that money is currently a pipe dream. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch! Legalization will result in increased costs to the County, particularly from the Sheriff’s Department. (Note: I don’t think marijuana use causes crime, but cannabis is a valuable and portable commodity, which means that increased theft is likely to occur.) As surplus cannabis tax revenue becomes available, we should direct it to affordable housing, public safety, and roads.

SDU's Second Dwelling Units: 

Sonoma County is grappling with affordable housing and individual cities are trying to find solutions. Unincorporated areas are under different zoning restrictions from cities. Proposals for group housing solutions, tiny house villages, and SDUs (Secondary Dwelling Units) are being considered in both cities and unincorporated areas. Waste disposal solutions are different in sewer districts from rural areas with septic and on-site waste disposal systems. 5th District is largely rural. Do you see solutions that work for cities being used in rural areas? 

Noreen Evans

During the past 20 years, all of the economic gains have gone to the wealthiest 1% in our county while the rest of us have seen our incomes drop and the cost of living skyrocket. We  need a Supervisor who puts the needs of working families first.

Affordable housing is one of my highest priorities.

Sonoma County manages $2.3 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) in public employee pension assets. State and federal laws require these assets to be invested to earn income. Why not put these public employee pension assets to work for all of us, building housing affordable to our working families? Pension assets can be invested to build housing which will provide a consistent income stream to the pension funds and will provide places for our working people to live. In today’s housing market, building even modest homes is an excellent investment.

This proposal will benefit taxpayers, working families, and our public employees. it’s taxpayer money--let’s put it to work for our local communities.

Second dwelling units have been around from time immemorial and are an important part of our  housing needs. But, they will not solve our housing crisis. When is the last time you heard young parents dream about raising their children in an apartment above someone’s garage? Or in someone’s spare bedroom? Second units often end up as Airbnb’s or vacation rentals. They are not places to raise growing families. If we consider reducing fees to encourage building second units, we should also restrict these units from being used as vacation rentals.

Our community has an urgent need for real housing for the people who live here. We need real world solutions and a Supervisor who can deliver them.

I not only have ideas and solutions to this housing affordability crisis, but I have decades of practical experience in  policy-making and consensus-building. I can’t wait to get to begin fixing some of these big picture issues facing Sonoma County residents. Let’s get to work!

Lynda Hopkins

We’re in the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing and homelessness crisis: the result of decades of failed housing policies. In the past week, I’ve spoken with a number of newly homeless residents. Today, the faces of homelessness are those of working people priced out of their homes. They are single parents living out of their cars. Families encamped along the river. Pregnant women, suddenly evicted. Middle-aged residents who’ve held jobs their entire lives, only to find themselves waking up on a mat on the floor of a homeless shelter to rise and head to work.

We must treat this situation like the emergency that it is. Business-as-usual policies are not adequate. Cities and unincorporated areas must work together to come up with a systems-wide plan to address this emergency immediately, short-term, and long-term.

I have researched and sought out innovative solutions, and will work with the community to select and enact appropriate strategies. We should consider junior second units (pioneered by Marin); incentivized, financed, pre-approved-design granny units (Santa Cruz); tiny houses as ADUs (Portland); laneway housing (Vancouver); and housing trusts (Silicon Valley).

We can also consider new solutions, such as changing our development impact fee structure to a per-square-foot basis -- which would essentially tax McMansions to subsidize the development of small efficiency units.

While urban and rural solutions will have different approaches, there may be commonalities, such as repurposing existing buildings into single room occupancy dwellings. We should consider permitting self-contained mobile units -- tiny homes -- that require no development, leave no footprint, and can be towed away from the property at any time. (Creating a truly no-impact tiny house would necessitate the legalization of composting toilets, and low-cost permitting of greywater systems. Water use/potential groundwater drawdown would still need to be considered.) Let’s work together and take action.

GMOs...Genetically Modified Organisms 

Measure M: The revised Genetically Modified and Engineered Organisms ban in Sonoma County initiative on the ballot this November is different from the previous ban rejected by voters. Do you support this ban? How do you address the agricultural community’s desire to keep GMOs open as an option in order to remain competitive? How would you respond to neighboring counties who already ban GMOs if voters deny the ban?

Noreen Evans

I support Measure M to ban GMO crops in Sonoma County. I supported Measure M in 2005, as well as the 2012 state initiative to label GMO foods.

In 2013, as your State Senator, I wrote the GMO Labeling Act. Heartbreakingly, my legislation fell 2 votes short of passage.

To date, my opponent in this race has not said whether she supports banning GMOs. However, her campaign is being run by a Capitol lobbyist who ran the campaign to defeat Measure M in 2005. One of her biggest contributors is the Sonoma County Alliance, which also opposes the proposed ban.

When we go grocery shopping, we read the labels before we buy. I urge you to do the same before you vote. Look behind the image--examine who is supporting and funding each campaign for Supervisor. My campaign is supported by ordinary working families because every day for over 20 years, both in local government and in the State Capitol, I worked for safe neighborhoods, good schools, a clean environment, and strong communities.

Opponents of the ban claim GMOs may fight such pests as the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter which attacks grapevines. As a state legislator, I’ve worked successfully with the wine industry and Farm Bureaus in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties to adopt best practices and secure state funding to fight this pest.

Crops are often genetically modified to withstand massive applications of herbicides like glyphosate. A recent study found glyphosate is so widespread in Sonoma County that it’s in all the wines produced here--even organic wines. Glyphosate has recently been determined by the World Heath Organization to be a probable carcinogen.

To date, no epidemiological studies have shown GMO foods are safe for human consumption. GMOs have been in the human food supply for only 20 years--we are all guinea pigs of the GMO food industry.

Sonoma County holds a unique position as a place to grow healthy products. Let’s not risk it by planting  GMO crops. Vote yes on Measure M.

Lynda Hopkins

I support the ban. And I’ve been endorsed by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. To clarify: they oppose the initiative. I support it. I come from an opinionated family -- so to me, this is a perfectly normal part of adult life. We have passionate conversations; we debate fine points; ultimately, we may disagree. I don’t understand leaders that only listen to their supporters, are afraid to disagree with certain groups, and never think outside the box.

If the ban fails, I will work as Supervisor to develop and enact an anti-GMO ordinance. I will ensure that our agricultural and natural environment are protected from the threat of transgenic contamination. The development of this ordinance will take place in public, through noticed meetings and conversations with stakeholders. 

For some opponents of the initiative, their opposition derives from being left out of the process of drafting the ordinance. They could only offer feedback after the process was complete. Procedural transparency and stakeholder involvement is key; agriculture must be included in the conversation.

One final point: I was once asked by a reporter on a tight deadline what my position on the ordinance was, and due to back-to-back meetings, I lacked time to read the ordinance before deadline. My opponent has since repeatedly accused me of “waffling,” which is one of many baseless, truth-twisting attacks she’s made. My farm was a supporter of the original initiative in 2014, when Supervisors were asked to address the issue of GMO drift. I wrote public letters to elected representatives after GMO Alfalfa was released. (My organic farm has the potential to be directly affected by GMOs; I know firsthand how hard it is to find organic alfalfa for goats.)

It’s essential to read through policy initiatives prior to endorsing them, because details matter.

Please submit your questions to - POST to - SEND to: Sonoma County Gazette, 6490 Front St #300, Forestville, CA 95436


Meetings and Debates coming up: 

Sep 17 ~ Sea Ranch Candidate Forum, 3-5 pm at the Sea Ranch, Del Mar Center, 40600 Leeward Rd, Sea Ranch, CA 95497

Sep 21 ~ 5th District Candidate FORUM ~ Noreen Evans and Lynda Hopkins will be available for attendee questions so you can learn who they are, and how they plan to serve our community. Hosted by the Sonoma County Gazette. 6-8pm at Monte Rio Parks and Rec Building…Koret Hall, 20488 CA-116, Monte Rio, CA 95462 (707) 865-2487

Oct 3 ~ 5th District Supervisor Candidate FORUM ~ hosted by the Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary. Moderated by Gina Channel. Lynda Hopkins and Noreen Evans. 6pm - 8pm, FREE, at the Community Church of Sebastopol, UCC, 1000 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol INFO:

Oct 6 ~ 5th District Candidate FORUM ~ Noreen Evans and Lynda Hopkins will be available for attendee questions so you can learn who they are, and how they plan to serve our community. Hosted by the Sonoma County Gazette. Duane DeWitt moderator, 6-8pm at Roseland Village Community LIbrary,  779 Sebastopol Road Santa RosaCA 95407 (707) 548-7873 INFO:

Oct  10 ~ Candidate Forum - by League of Women Voters, 6:30 PM  at the Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St, Sebastopol INFO:, 707-823-1511


Candidate Meetings by Candidate: 



Town Hall Meetings:

Sep 7 ~ Cazadero Town Hall 6-8pm, Cazadero Fire House, 5985 Cazadero Highway, Cazadero 

Sep 14 ~ Sebastopol Town Hall 6-8pm - Sebastopol Grange, located at 6000 Highway 12 in Sebastopol 

Coffee Chats: everyone welcome

Sep 8 ~   9am – 11am, Santa Rosa – Starbucks, 2780 Stony Point Rd, Santa Rosa 

Sep 15 ~ 9am – 11am, Occidental – Howards Station Café, 3611 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, 

Sep 20 ~  9am – 11am, Sebastopol - Taylor Maid Coffee, 6790 McKinley St #170, Sebastopol 

Sep 29 ~  9am – 11am, Jenner  - Café Aquatica, 10439 CA-1, Jenner

Oct 6 ~  9am – 11am, Forestville  - Tiny Town Café, 6544 Front St, Forestville

Oct 13 ~ 9am – 11am Santa Rosa – Starbucks, 760 Stony Point Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

Oct 20 ~ 9am – 11am, Graton - Willow Wood Market Café, 9020 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444

Oct 27 ~ 9am – 11am, Sebastopol  - Coffee Catz, 6761 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472




Meet & Greets:

Sep 1 ~ Roseland Meet & Greet. 6–7:30pm Hosted by Davin Cardenas, 1422 McMinn Ave. Santa Rosa

Sep 2 ~ Forestville Meet & Greet, 5:30 - 7pm Hosted by Barbara Freidman & Doug Loudon RSVP: Thomas Creek Ranch, 6760 Giovanetti Rd, Forestville

Sep 11 ~ Jenner Meet & Greet, 4-6 pm  Hosted by Jenner for Noreen, Jenner Community Center 10398 CA-1, Jenner, 

Sep 15 ~ Sebastopol/Occidental Meet & Greet Hosted by Teresa Tudery and Barbara Hirschfeld , Open Sky Retreat Space in Sebastopol RSVP: 

Sep 17 ~ Annapolis Meet & Greet 6-7:30pm Hosted by Zoe & Gordon Smith, Horicon School 35555 Annapolis Rd, Annapolis 

Sep 18 ~ California Coastal Dreamin’with Dr. Charles Lester 3-6pm, The Secret Gardens - Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, 

Sep 23 ~ Forestville Meet & Greet 5-7pm Hosted by Gary and Carolyn Harris and Tim Sergent Sequoia Properties 6701 Front St, Hwy 116, Forestville

Sep 27 ~ Guerneville Meet & Greet, Hosted by Elisa Conti, Drake Road, Guerneville.  RSVP info@noreenforsupervisor for address

Sept. 28 ~ Guerneville Conversation and Panel with Noreen 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Russian River Fire Protection meeting room 14100 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446 RSVP: 

Oct. 2 ~ Sebastopol Meet and Greet 4:00 to 6:00 pm RSVP and directions:

Oct. 4 – Meet and Greet on Peak’s Pike Rd. 5:30 to 7:00 RSVP and directions:

Oct. 5 ~ Sebastopol Meet and Greet 5:30 – 7:00 pm RSVP and directions:  Host:  Bleys Rose,

Oct. 9 ~ Rally for the Win 3:-6:-pm at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 1101 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol

Oct. 11 – Meet and Greet in Guerneville Host Jim Maresca 5:30 to 7:00 p.mRSVP and directions: 

Oct. 12 – Meet and Greet in Santa Rosa  241 Royal Court, Santa Rosa RSVP and directions:

Oct. 14 – Meet and Greet in Sebastopol 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Florence Avenue, Sebastopol RSVP and directions:

Oct. 19 – Meet and Greet in Graton 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Hosted by:  Christy Lubin and Jordan Burns RSVP and directions: