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October 2020

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Every year, the Ivanhoe Community Council and interested neighbors join for a day of community clean up activities. There will be a clean-up day planned for the end of October but social distancing and facemasks will be required. Details will be available on the Ivanhoe Community Council and Ivanhoe Sol Facebook Pages.

(Ivanhoe Community Council Member Connie Solorio at the Ivanhoe Rose Garden. Photo: Connie Solorio/Ivanhoe Community Council)

(Ivanhoe Residents in prior clean-up day. Photo: Jesse Arellano/ Ivanhoe Community Council)

 

The right to vote is a privilege that some of our neighbors do not have. We urge every eligible voter to vote early, check your voter registration status, and to track your ballot once it is mailed. There is much at stake. Not only is this year a major presidential contest, Ivanhoe’s representation in state government, and many propositions are also on the ballot that will directly affect our lives.

 

This year, every voter can mail their ballots. However, Ivanhoe Memorial Hall will no longer serve as a polling site. If residents would like to hand-deliver their ballots, there are 19 total polling stations total in Tulare County this election cycle.  Our team has identified the five nearest polling places located in nearby cities. This list includes: 

  • Farmersville Community Center 623 N. Avery Avenue Farmersville, CA 93223
  • Exeter Memorial 324 N. Kaweah Avenue Exeter, CA 93221
  • Manuel Hernandez Community Center 247 W. Ferguson Avenue Visalia, CA 93291 
  • Visalia Library 200 W. Oak Avenue Visalia, CA 93291
  • Woodlake Memorial 355 N. Acacia Street Woodlake, CA 93286

There are many ways to have your voices heard. While we encourage every person to vote, we feel that voting alone is not enough. As we’ve discussed in our previous newsletters, many issues continue to exist in the community of Ivanhoe regardless of the election cycle. We urge and support community members wanting to the collective good of the community. To this end, we will continue to support the community with relevant and current news for your information needs.

 

Sincerely,

Ivanhoe Sol Editorial Team

This year, Assembly District 26 has a race between the incumbent Devon Mathis , a Republican, and Drew Phelps, a Democrat. 

 

This position is a state-level office in the California Legislature and plays a important role in creating new state laws, conducting hearings to gather public input on state matters, and setting the state budget which affects programs for the environment, businesses, schools and other issues. 

 

Assembly District 26 encompasses much of Tulare County and the Sequoia Forests. As a result, this district is a unique combination of rural communities, larger cities, agriculture, and other environmental issues. Over the last years, this district has been affected by significant issues like wildfires, drought, poverty, economic recession, immigration, and food insecurity.

(Devon Mathis and Drew Phelps. Photo: Candidate Campaign Pages)

Question# 1: The Ivanhoe Sol has documented the impacts of climate change on Ivanhoe in the last months. If elected, what will you do to address climate change in AD-26?

Drew Phelps (D): We need to continue and expand the Carl Moyer program in California. This program provides grants to remove older polluting engines, which reduces emissions that lead to smog and poor air quality. The program has also been modified to provide market-based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases. I would want to increase overall funding to accelerate the reductions we have already seen, so that we can address climate change here in the Central Valley without having to sacrifice the economy at the local level.

 

Devon Mathis (R): This Candidate did not provide a statement. 

 

Question# 2 Many rural communities like Ivanhoe continue to have several outstanding needs in the area. How will you ensure rural communities are represented in the State Assembly?

 

Drew Phelps (D): I believe that I will be uniquely positioned to bring the voice of rural people to Sacramento. If elected, I will work to bring other legislators to tour our overlooked rural communities. Our problems have solutions but are simply not prioritized by those in Sacramento who focus on the more populated areas of California. I feel that being a Democrat in a state that is run by Democratic supermajorities will afford me a large amount of political leverage that our current Assemblymember does not have.

Devon Mathis ( R ) : This Candidate did not provide a statement. 

 

 

Question #3 – How do you plan to remain accountable to the residents of Ivanhoe and other rural communities for your campaign promises?

Drew Phelps (D): I plan to do multiple town halls throughout the district each year. I plan to rotate these meetings throughout all communities in the district so that everyone will be able to participate.

 

Devon Mathis (R): This Candidate did not provide a statement. 

 

 

Question #4 – What is the largest challenge that you predict encountering if elected? 

Drew Phelps (D) : Our district is quite large and contains Sequoia National Forest, Death Valley National Park, Inyo National Forest, and three valleys that contain 10 incorporated cities as well as many unincorporated parts of three counties. I believe my largest challenge will be to balance the needs of these communities that all have distinct problems to solve. If elected, I believe that I bring a unique set of skills to amplify every voice in our district and will work tirelessly so that we finally receive our fair share from Sacramento.

 

Devon Mathis (R): This Candidate did not provide a statement. 

 

Question #5 – What else would you like to let Ivanhoe know about why you are the best candidate for the position? 

I’m 4th generation from the district, I’m a small business advocate, and affordable housing specialist.

 

I’m running because we deserve better from Sacramento. We deserve solutions that are tailored to the needs of our communities rather than statewide, one-size-fits-all solutions imposed on us from those in urban areas.

 

My priorities in Sacramento will be greater access to water for families and farms, getting our district back to work by supporting small businesses and expanding job and vocational training, and improving our healthcare system to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and making sure we’re better prepared for the next emergency.

For the Ivanhoe Sol’s October Issue, the Ivanhoe Sol will be providing full responses of candidates for two important races that will affect the Ivanhoe Area. By focusing on the State Assembly and local Kaweah Delta Board of Directors race we hope to bring important information needed for the community of Ivanhoe to decide during the upcoming election. 

 

Kaweah Delta Health Care District Board of Directors, Zone 5

(Kaweah Delta Health Care District Zone 5 includes southwest Ivanhoe. Photo: KaweahDelta.org)

 

As a rural community without a hospital, Visalia and Kaweah Delta are nearby resources that are essential to treating many of the issues we have addressed in our previous issues. Zone 5 of the Kaweah Delta Board of Directors includes the Communities of Goshen, North Visalia, and a portion of Southwest Ivanhoe.  This position will represent Ivanhoe in the medical system and can potentially become an advocate for the health of the community since the mission the Kaweah Delta Health Care District is:

 

“Health is our passion.

Excellence is our focus.

Compassion is our promise.”

 

The Kaweah Delta Health Care District is governed by a board of directors made up of five publicly-elected directors, elected by zone for four-year terms. Each month, the board holds regular meetings at Kaweah Delta.

 

The board has the final moral, legal, and regulatory responsibility for everything that goes on in the organization.

 

According to Kaweah Delta,This governing body is responsible for the safety and quality of care, treatment, and services provided district wide. This board also establishes policy, promotes performance improvement, and provides for organizational management and planning. The board’s primary responsibility is to develop and follow the organization’s mission statement, which leads to the development of specific policies in the areas of quality performance, financial performance, planning performance, and management performance.”

(Nevin House and Ambar Rodriguez. Photos: Candidate websites)

Candidates:

In this election, Ambar Rodriquez, a local history teacher and community activist is running against the incumbent, Nevin House. We have reached out to both candidates and both have returned responses to our questions below: 

 

Question #1: Since Zone 5 includes communities like Goshen, Ivanhoe, and North Side Visalia, what experiences do you bring to understand these communities’ health needs?

 

Ambar Rodriguez: As a child I had to take public transportation to get to Dr. appointments at the Medi-Cal clinics in Visalia. Through my personal experiences I can relate to the hardships of lack of transportation, a parent who worked in the fields, and overall living in a lower socio economic community as a child of an immigrant. The realities of quality healthcare was scarce and navigating the health care lingo was hard to understand especially if English was not my family’s 1st language. That is why I bring the perspective of someone from the community advocating for the community.

 

Nevin House: I was born and lived in a town that was about 80% Hispanic. I learned the value of hard work as I hoed weeds out of my father’s cotton fields starting when I was eight years old. My first home in Visalia was a rental three blocks from the Oval. Perhaps because of those great experiences, I try to understand the medical needs of everyone in the area – every race, every age, every part of society, everyone. This is also why I support and encourage our Street Medicine program that provides outreach medical care to the local homeless population.

 

Question #2: Many residents in Tulare County are on Medical or Medicare, how can you best use your position to serve their needs?

 

Ambar Roriguez: Most patients with Medical/Medicare seek care from clinics aimed for low income or the ER. Follow up care can be frustrating such as going to another facility for lab work, scans, following up with a primary care, and so much more. I would advocate for a system aimed to navigate these confusing steps with information for visual, audio and different types of learners including different languages. Also transportation! If you get referred to UCLA or USF how are you supposed to get there? A system needs to exist to help people navigate these issues to ensure they receive the proper healthcare.

 

Nevin House: I continually push for additional access to specialists by our Medi-Cal, and Medicare population. In the four years I’ve been on the Board, 263 new doctors joined the Kaweah Delta Health Care District, most of them specialists. Many specialities are now available to the Medi-Cal population at our Rural Health Clinics. The new large Tulare Clinic will provide the space to add even more. We are also converting our downtown Family Medical Clinic to a FQHC so additional specialists will be available to Medi-Cal patients. Then we will convert our Court Urgent Care to our second FQHC

 

Question #3: How do you plan to make yourself accessible to your rural areas?

 

Ambar Rodriguez: During Covid restrictions, I would have to be accessible using digital platforms such as Facebook or What’s App, information drops at houses, and even my personal contact information. After Covid restrictions I plan to personally be available at the soccer fields, where they sell elotes/goodies, and even church, San Felipe De Jesus. The main focus would be to build a connection with the local leaders of the areas to attend, collaborate, and coordinate events, even beyond healthcare. So don’t be shy, let’s get some food and have a chisme session. 

 

Nevin House: I make a point of being accessible to every employee, patient, and community member. An email address and cell number has been on my Facebook Board Member page since I joined the Board. Phone calls, emails, and letters to the hospital for me are forwarded so I can respond. I also visited many of the patients in the hospital when they or their family contacted me. That is an important part of being accessible that COVID-19 has interrupted for now and I look forward to when it will be safe to resume hospital visitation.

 

Question #4: What is the largest challenge that you predict encountering if elected?

 

Ambar Rodriquez: Navigating this pandemic will be the biggest challenge as a board member. We need to ensure our healthcare workers whether they are doctors, nurses, cafeteria workers, translators, or anyone involved with Kaweah’s health care network, are protected with the proper resources. Resources in general will help to reduce wait times and provide quality healthcare for our patients. I am dedicated to ensure the health and wellness of all patients, employees, and overall our community. A healthy community leads to a decline of Covid cases, leading to the reopening of our businesses, and overall can lead to a flourishing economy. 

 

Nevin House: In the short run, keeping the District financially healthy. COVID-19 has significantly increased costs and decreased income. My 40+ years of managing businesses has been invaluable in understanding the complex financial, administrative, personnel, supply, and care delivery matrix that makes up this 5000-employee, 800 million dollar health care system.

 

In the long run, continuing to add new doctors and additional specialties as we find a way to upgrade our facilities to meet the evolving state seismic requirements and expand them to provide space for new services to our growing population.

 

Question #5: What else would you like to let Ivanhoe know about why you are the best candidate for your position?

 

Ambar Rodriguez: I am someone who is truly dedicated to serving my community and will be easily accessible. I am relatable because your struggles and hardships were either mine or continue to be mine. Because of these experiences and understandings I am connected to the realities and needs of the communities of zone 5, even the rural ones. I am determined to advocate for accessibility to healthcare, resources, and pathways to keep healthcare professionals in our community. A healthy community leads to many positive outcomes and that is what I want to see, a flourishing community for ourselves and the next generation.

 

Nevin House: As COVID-19 continues to impact the revenue and expenses of the Health Care District, my decades of business management experience have been critical to both understanding the evolving situation and recognizing the best steps to minimize the losses. The Health Care District can then continue to provide the best medical care to every patient. My business and Board experience has proved crucial to maximizing the satisfaction and well-being of the District’s amazing employees and medical providers during this difficult time and I look forward to celebrating with them when we reach the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

(Ivanhoe Community Council Online Meeting. Photo: Mayra Becerra/Ivanhoe Community Council)

The Ivanhoe Community Council is a group that has been active in the community for over 20 years. Previously known as the Ivanhoe Community Group, it has always consisted of dedicated individuals (Betty Vickers and Sandy Box were some of the first members)  that care about Ivanhoe and who have worked to bring resources and improvements into our unincorporated town. 

Since the beginning of coming together, they have worked on advocating for Ivanhoe residents and hosting monthly meetings to share news. Some of the accomplishments that they have brought to our town include the Rose Garden, getting a stop sign at the Boys and Girls Club, and the annual Earth Day clean up in Ivanhoe. Currently, the Council consists of Mayra Becerra as Chairperson, Jesse Arellano as Vice Chairperson, Connie Vela-Solorio as Secretary, and Esaul Perez as Treasurer. 

At the last town meeting, the Council happily announced that they were approved as a Non-Profit (501.c3). This is an exciting moment!  They have had help from different organizations and people like Rosemary Caso at United Way,  Mary Bryant from the Mooney Grove Park Project, and the Good Works grant through Eddie Valero. The process to apply was long but definitely worth it. 

How does this benefit Ivanhoe? The Council will continue to work towards bringing more resources into town, advocate for more improvement projects such as sidewalks, more housing, and help with needs as they arise. 

– Pedro Hernandez

 

For many people, spending more time indoors to stay safe from the coronavirus and wildfire smoke has led to more appreciation for green spaces and the outdoors. For years, Ivanheo residents have shown interest in bringing more green space to the community however current efforts face new challenges.

 

The economic recession that the State of California has encountered due to the coronavirus has created a strain on available funding resources for park projects. At last week’s Ivanhoe Community Council meeting Blanca Escobedo, policy advocate with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, remarked that she was not sure that the state’s Urban Greening Project will have the same level of funding next year.

 

While the Urban Greening Program was the initial funding program that was considered, an application could not be completed prior to the program deadline. 

 

Two major issues must be addressed before a park is developed in the community. First, a proper site must be located. The final location of the park will be influenced by where Tulare County can locate land that can be purchased. 

 

Secondly, maintenance of the park must be adequately funded to ensure the park remains useful to the community. Often, maintenance is not eligible for state park programs.

 

According to advocates there are three methods to fund a park in Ivanhoe. The first is funding through state grants which has supported many parks. For example, there is a program funded by Proposition 68 with a deadline in December that can fund park projects. Supervisor Eddie Valero confirmed that Tulare County will submit an application.

 

Valero commented, “with our proposition 68 we only apply for one community at a time per year. Last year they applied for Goshen, this round I believe they are applying for Earlimart to go after a grant. Ivanhoe would need to be part of an application with another entity like another nonprofit organization. I know the General Services Agency does not like to do multiple grants for a pot of funds.”

 

Another option to fund a park in Ivanhoe includes local funding from Tulare County’s General Fund. This is an option that is technically available however County representatives have shown hesitancy utilizing these funds even before the economic burden the coronavirus have brought to the area.  

 

Finally, there is the option of creating a community services district which would start a local tax to fund the park. Supervisor Valero remarked, “I know there are opportunities for unincorporated communities can form local Community Service Districts like Ivanhoe has for sewer and water. But this can also be for recreation.” In Ivanhoe’s case, the Ivanhoe Public Utility District is a similar type of arrangement. 

 

As a result, the organization Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will be conducting a community survey to identify community opinions on the preferred method to fund a new park in Ivanhoe. Escobedo says, “With this survey we hope to collect the method to how Ivanhoe residents would want to establish a park. We hope to receive more input on the conceptual development of the park from the beginning to ensure the community voice is heard”. 

 

These surveys will begin to be conducted via online and paper versions that will be shared at the next Ivanhoe Community Council Meeting on Tuesday October 27th at 6pm on Facebook Live. 

 

For more information our readers can contact Blanca at bescobedo@leadershipcounsel.org .