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Gloves come off at Laneburg rally

By John Miller, 04/25/22 4:16 PM

LANEBURG – Laneburg’s Volunteer Fire Department was busy Saturday evening, but not fighting fires.

Saturday was the Laneburg Political Rally and Bake Sale. Years ago this was the first political event of the season, but times have changed. The firefighters cooked 116 burgers with all the trimmings. There were also chips, cookies and drinks for those attending. Additionally, there were more than a dozen baked items up for bidding, and the bidding, at times, was fast and furious. Neal Riddling was the auctioneer. He did his best to keep the bidding going as all proceeds went to the fire department for equipment and other needs.

But, it was also a political rally, where candidates were given the chance to speak. Blake Montgomery, candidate for Prosecuting Attorney for the 8th North Judicial District, talked about being a lifelong resident of Hope and opening his law firm there seven years ago. He said he’d focus on three things if elected – responsibility, accountability and transparency. He told those gathered the prosecutor’s office decides who will be charged, what they’ll be charged with and deal with the punishment. He said in 2020 the office in Hempstead County entered plea bargains for more than 100 felony cases. He said he’d hold people accountable for their actions and wants the voters to hold the prosecutor’s office accountable. Montgomery said the public needs to know the motivations behind the actions of the prosecutors office.

Ben Hale followed. Hale is the deputy prosecutor for the office and is also a candidate for Prosecuting Attorney. He opened saying he’s honored to be invited to the rally as it’s to raise money for the VFD, which is a great example of public service. In talking about the prosecutor’s race, Hale said he’s worked hundreds of felony cases whereas his opponent has only been involved with about a dozen, adding Montgomery doesn’t have the experience needed to do the job. He pointed out in 2020 judicial trials were closed for six months because of COVID-19, and health guidelines prevented the holding of trials the rest of the year.

Hale recognized the officers in the room, saying they depend on the prosecutor’s office, adding they’d say he’s the man for the job. He added, the 8th North office, which represents Hempstead and Nevada counties, was the only office in the state without a backlog of cases when COVID restrictions were lifted.

They were followed by candidates for Nevada County Judge. Bob Cummings spoke first, saying if elected he will bring changed to the way the county operates, pointing out he lives on a county road and doesn’t like how things are done. He told the audience he has ideas on how to do things differently, letting those gathered know the county judge has the sole discretion on county roads while the quorum court’s job is to handle the county’s finances.

His opponent, Mike Otwell, said Cummings has been on the quorum court for 25 years, while he, Otwell, has been in business for himself. Otwell talked about how the population of the county has declined since the 1920s and is now barely a third of what it was. If elected, he said, he would run the county like a business and will listen to everyone.

Eric Jackson, candidate for quorum court district 5, introduced himself, saying he’d like for Nevada County to be a desirable place to live.

After the speeches, the auction continued with t-shirts, caps, cakes and flashlights being sold to the highest bidder. The big ticket item was an ice chest that sold for more than $300.