Face-off on the Ridge

Candidates look to fill Supervisor Yamaguchi’s chair

Joe DiDuca

Joe DiDuca

Residents of the 5th District, which includes Paradise and Magalia, soon will have new representation on the Butte County Board of Supervisors for the first time in a dozen years.

While it doesn’t compare to former 2nd District Supervisor Jane Dolan’s 32-year run on the board, Kim Yamaguchi’s three-term stint is nonetheless pretty impressive and does reflect the conservative majority that lives in the district, which runs from Butte Valley in the south—think of Butte Community College—northwest all the way to Butte Meadows and includes the Butte Creek Canyon and Stilson Canyon areas near Chico.

The choice to replace Yamaguchi, who opted not to run for a fourth term, is between Paradise Town Councilman Joe DiDuca and longtime Paradise resident and financial adviser Doug Teeter.

Both men say they value the outdoors—Teeter is an avid off-roader and DiDuca is an active hunter who told the CN&R he took his daughters duck hunting while they were still in diapers.

In the June primary, DiDuca gained 5,040 votes (39 percent) and Teeter followed with 3,275 (25 percent). DiDuca, who owns a construction company called Sierra Builders, is an unabashed conservative who’s called for promoting business by deferring or even waiving property and sales tax to help new businesses.

Teeter is more moderate and says he would place emphasis on transportation and planning. He said rather than compete with one another, the county, Oroville, Chico and the town of Paradise should merge their respective economic development plans into one.

While DiDuca beat Teeter in the primary by 1,765 votes, there were another 4,642 votes cast for the other two candidates, Robin Huffman (2,450) and Mike Greer (2,192). And those candidates are also more moderate than DiDuca.

Huffman is an instructor at Butte College and former Town Council member, who was probably the most liberal member during her time on the council. Greer, who’s served three terms on the Paradise school board, has also been a chapter president for the teachers union in Marysville.

On the matter of medical marijuana, a hot-button issue in the county over the last year, the two candidates offer a bit of a different take.

Last year the Board of Supervisors passed what many saw as an overly restrictive ordinance that disallowed any marijuana grows on less than a half-acre of land. That effort was rejected by voters in June on a ballot referendum.

Doug Teeter

A month later the board’s conservative majority tried to adopt an ordinance that the medical-marijuana supporters saw as even more restrictive. The board backed down when District Attorney Mike Ramsey suggested the latest ordinance was unconstitutional.

DiDuca said that medical marijuana does need to be regulated. “Pot is being grown up here by bus stops,” he said. “And 17-year-old boys are eyeing it with plans to steal it.”

He said complaints about the plant’s smell are valid and that “people can’t enjoy private-property rights.”

He suggested putting together an ordinance like the one now in place in Paradise that limits medical-marijuana gardens to 50 square feet.

Teeter said it is time for the county “to do the right thing and get a group together of legitimate growers, law enforcement and property owners” to form a committee and hammer out an ordinance acceptable to all parties. Such a committee is now being formed.

DiDuca serves on the Butte County Water Advisory Committee. He says the Bay-Delta Stewardship Council wants to “have a majority of our water flushed down the rivers to help habitat in the Delta.”

That, he said, will put a strain on the Tuscan Aquifer and put many farmers out of work.

He said his No. 1 priority is getting “24-7” sheriff patrols on the Ridge. The 5th District, he said, is greatly underserved by the Sheriff’s Office, and response times are much too long.

DiDuca has been endorsed by four retired Butte County sheriffs—Hal Brooks, Mick Grey, Scott MacKenzie and Perry Reniff—as well as the Butte County Deputy Sheriffs Association. He is also endorsed by Assemblyman Dan Logue, as well as Yamaguchi, whom he refers to in a fundraising letter as his “good friend.” According to campaign reports, DiDuca paid Kim K. Yamaguchi and Associates Consulting $1,200 for services rendered.

Teeter, who is new to politics, says his strengths would lie in budgeting and zoning issues. He has worked as an engineer and attended law school and, as a private fiduciary who has served on the board of the Paradise Pines Property Owners Association, would know how to scrutinize the county budget and invest tax dollars.

As an off-road vehicle enthusiast, he says he also has concerns that the federal government is not allowing enough access to federal lands, something that could bring more tourism to the Ridge.

Teeter has been endorsed by three of DiDuca’s fellow town councilmembers, Steve Culleton, Alan White and Scott Lotter, as well as the Butte County Farm Bureau and the Butte County Employees Association.