By C.J. Barbre

Clearly county supervisors represent everyone in their district and work in concert with one another to do the best possible job for the whole county.

Nonetheless, one city clearly seems to have an inside track as another Lindsay resident was elected to represent District 1.

Lindsay citrus farmer Allen Ishida is District 1 Supervisor-elect after winning 52 percent of the vote in a close race with Exeter tree fruit farmer Frank "Bud" Pinkham with 47 percent.

The following morning after the election the normally quiet and low-key Ishida sounded excited.

"We're very pleased obviously with the outcome of the election. It was a very humbling experience to find the support that we found, and I'm not sure what else to say. I believe that we ran our campaign the way we had planned and it worked out for us," he said.

Everyone who knows Allen or followed his campaign knows that he is a third-generation citrus farmer, a graduate of Strathmore High School (class of 1966), a graduate of Fresno State with a B.S. in business administration and a minor in agriculture.

District 1 Supervisor Bill Sanders was much less reticent. "I know Allen. He is quiet, but he's a good thinker, a smart guy," Sanders said. "I think he will rapidly get a grasp of the issues facing the county. But I think, more importantly, that he'll come to understand that he represents the whole county. Issues change every day. There's always something new, some new fire to put out. The overall theme behind all of it, at least what I came to realize, is that the theory of governance is important - that you want to do something that's right for everybody in the county and to do the best job you can to represent everybody."

In fact representing everybody was the theme on Ishida's platform under public safety.

"My number one priority is still public safety. We need increased staffing in the Sheriffs Department and need to to solve the impasse we have with fire protection," he said upon being elected.

And Ishida's background of 20 years in commercial real estate statewide, along with being a lifelong citrus farmer makes him an expert of sorts on county growth.

Sanders offered more input on what he sees ahead. "Allen is coming on board at a very difficult time." He agreed that a major issue "on the front burner" is fire services and continued funding issues. "Prop. 1A passed by a great margin which means the state is going to have to live up to their obligations to the counties. And what happens if they don't, if revenue drops so they enact the emergency provision which takes a two-thirds vote - it will be devastation for local government," Sanders said.

Proposition 1A allows the provisions to be suspended only if the Governor declares a fiscal necessity and two-thirds of the Legislature approve the suspension. Suspended funds must be repaid within three years. Of course three years is a long time in Sacramento, often time enough for new legislators and new propositions.

Sanders said Tulare County has been very prudent. "We've managed to hang on very well because we haven't given huge raises or exorbitant retirement benefits. We've just struggled along and kept our heads down and taken care of business." Sanders said that after 12 years he thought it was time for fresh ideas. "It's one of the reasons I decided not to run again. I thought a new perspective would be good. I think Allen can do that."

Sanders went on to say, "For a new supervisor, the learning curve is great. There is a huge amount of bureaucracy he'll have to wade through. It will take him a year to get to understand how all the systems work together, how the departments interact - mechanical things. Again, I'm sure he's capable of that. I don't have any doubts at all.

"The other thing is the people part - the perfunctory dinners and meetings and showing the flag where you need to support other groups and organizations - that's important, really important to show up at public functions. People appreciate it - not you personally - it's the position, the fact that the district supervisor shows up at your function. It offers legitimacy in many people's eyes."

While we had Sanders' attention, we asked about his own future plans. He said rumors of he and Peggy leaving Lindsay have been greatly exaggerated. What he actually said was that saying they were moving to their house in Morro Bay was the easy answer. Their Lindsay home is in escrow, but it hasn't closed yet. "We're actually looking for another property in the area." The Sanders have children here and many deep ties in the area. Bill said this was just kind of an interlude.

As for leaving public life, he said it is difficult. "One of the real joys I've had in all the years thatI've served is the feeling that I've actually done something good. And I've met lots of wonderful people throughout the state, different supervisors, senators, congressmen. Sometimes you put in a lot of hours and a lot of time on business for the county and a lot of times you don't have an apparent success. Then, later on things work out to reveal that what you did is good and right. It's hard to measure success in this business because it's always a changing situation, so you just do the best you can one day at a time and hope you make the right decisions."

Ishida has big shoes to fill, but he's a very capable, not to mention tall guy.

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