This is the second installment of GT’s coverage of the Second District supervisor seat race.
This week’s featured District 2 candidates are political newcomers ready to shake things up.
Tony Crane is an Aptos mortgage broker who is battling against what he sees as county corruption for decisions on a residential mental health facility.
Doug Deitch founded Monterey Bay Conservancy and sees water issues as tantamount among the county’s many responsibilities.
The Second District includes Aptos, La Selva Beach, Seacliff and Rio Del Mar, in addition to parts of Watsonville and Freedom. The candidate who fills the seat will oversee a mix of rural and urban neighborhoods, representing a range of residents from low-income agricultural areas to wealthier enclaves in mid-county and the Aptos area.
Aptos mortgage broker Tony Crane was inspired to run to help fix a system he says is broken.
Crane holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Humboldt State University. He is also a licensed General Contractor.
In a recent interview, Crane touched on homeless services, transportation, water supply and the housing shortage plaguing the state as key issues he plans to focus on.
The catalyst for his candidacy centers around Second Story Peer Respite, a six-bed residential facility for people with serious mental health problems in his Estates Drive neighborhood.
He says that county leaders and Encompass Community Services, which runs the facility, accepted a state grant for an expansion of the facility they knew was illegal and kept it from the public.
Crane says the facility was already inappropriate for his family-centric neighborhood when it opened in 2010. He claims there have been several incidents that include drunken, violent behavior and residents peering into neighbors windows.
“It’s dangerous,” he says. “It’s a crisis mental health facility. They’re not functioning well in their neighborhood, in their home, and they’re bringing them to our neighborhood.”
The problem worsened in 2017, when Encompass applied for and received a $1.12 million grant from the California Health Facilities Finance Authority (CHFFA) to expand the facility to eight beds.
What followed, he says, was collusion by county officials and Encompass to keep their plans from the public, including not holding a public hearing on the proposed changes.
“This is what drives me,” he says. “I’ve been dealing with this for six years, and it kind of overshadows all the things this county can do as long as this kind of stuff is allowed.”
Crane calls the county’s homeless response “a complete debacle,” saying that he supports the idea of Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Courts, a program supported by a vast majority of the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year.
Under the CARE program, people with untreated severe mental illness can be compelled into housing and treatment.
“You have to manage this,” he says. “You can’t just let people roam the streets. For some people, that’s the last thing they want, but they also are kind of a danger to society.”
Crane also says that the county needs to balance its future housing against potential water use.
With 4,634 housing units mandated under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment, the county faces penalties such as financial sanctions, loss of permitting authority and court receivership if it doesn’t create 4,634 affordable housing units by 2031.
But building that many new housing units, he says, is untenable for already overcrowded Santa Cruz County.
“Why are we succumbing to that level of pressure,” he says.
What is the solution?
“Don’t build,” he says. “There is a maximum number of people that can live here comfortably. I just don’t see how they justify agreeing to 4,000 more units, which is going to completely change the complexion of Santa Cruz County.”
Crane says he supports bike lane expansion, but expressed doubt about the ongoing work on Highway 1.
“They can expand the freeway all they want, it’s still going to be backed up traffic I am fairly sure of that,” he says.
Douglas Deitch describes himself as “the best money can’t buy.” He says that he accepts no political contributions.
Deitch, 74, ran unsuccessfully for the Second District seat in 1996, 2000 and 2012. He also mounted a campaign to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Jimmy Panetta in the 2022 election, where with 5,700 votes he garnered just 3% of the statewide take. He received just over 4% in a 2018 run for the 20th Congressional seat.
An Aptos resident since 1974, Dietch lists community safety, fiscal responsibility, water resources, community development and transportation as his his key priorities.
The founder of Monterey Bay Conservancy, Deitch says that water supply and quality issues are the most important issues facing the Central Coast.
He hopes to use $2.28 billion in state and federal funds to repurpose 22,800 acres of coastal land as wetlands, where both treated wastewater and water from the Pajaro and Salinas rivers would flow, be naturally filtered and then recharge the aquifer.
He also says that the county should utilize a rarely-enforced ordinance prohibiting new well permits when saltwater intrusion is present.
“If they would enforce this law, we would never have any problem,” he says.
An Aptos resident since 1974, Dietch lists community safety, fiscal responsibility, water resources, community development and transportation as his other key priorities.
He also wants to expand UC Santa Cruz into Watsonville.
“We need to be able to maintain water supply in our fire hydrants and our fire system in case the power goes off,” he says.
Deitch would also cap pay for county employees at the level Superior Court judges earn, roughly $195,000.
“I don’t think that anybody in the county should be paid more than a Superior Court judge,” he said.
Deitch attended Stanford University, for both undergraduate and law school, where earned a juris master.
He was also co-chair of the curriculum committee for Pajaro Valley High School.
He says he opposes changing Cabrillo College’s name.
“It’s inappropriate,” he says. “The most important thing about a school is that we should do what’s in the best interest of the kids, and I don’t see anything that compels me to think this in their best interest.”