Times Standard Q&A with 5th District Humboldt County supervisor challenger Steve Madrone

Steve Madrone is running as a challenger for 5th District Humboldt County supervisor against two-term incumbent Ryan Sundberg in the June 5 primary.

Q Why should the 5th District elect you for the position rather than the current incumbent?

A The district should elect me to the position because I have extensive land use planning experience, and expertise in bringing together people and resources to create real community solutions. I have over 44 years experience living and working in Humboldt County, in positions and on projects with direct benefit to the community — conceptualizing, organizing, administering, and fundraising.

Raising my family here and working with people from all walks of life has given me a broad perspective and better understanding of what works and doesn’t work when trying to solve problems and getting things done. I am a hands-on “get it done” type of person.

I’ve served in many leadership and training positions, including political office and college teaching.  

Most important, I am concerned with the long term health and productivity of the economy and environment here. It has been my main mission to work on this behalf for the future of our children and grandchildren.



The 5th District should elect me because I have a track record of accomplishments and problem solving and because I am dedicated to helping our community be successful in economic development and environmental protection. I have developed win-win solutions over and over again.

Q What are the most significant issues in Humboldt County, and how would you work to address them if elected? 

A Safety, health, and job security — including crime prevention, protecting our water quality and quantity, and stable, living-wage jobs are on the top of the long list. Working to solve our homelessness, crime, and drug problems and providing mental heath services where needed can be achieved by taking the huge amount of money we spend on sending everyone to jail (up to $80,000 per year per person) and moving those funds up front.



We can create programs that begin to help lift folks up out of poverty and addiction and that will go a long way toward solutions. We have the expertise here locally, and great examples around the country where communities have made great strides forward in solving these problems. Affordable housing is central to these efforts.

Protecting our watersheds and WQ, restoring salmon habitat and runs, protecting our rivers and securing the flows we were guaranteed in the Trinity River, will go a long way toward those goals. My approach is to create sustainable economic development for our fisheries, forestry, and cannabis industries.



I’d work on securing reliable and adequate funding sources for drug rehab, law enforcement, and affordable housing, and road improvements.

Q What are the top issues specific to your district and how would you address those if elected? Do you feel these issues have been adequately addressed by the incumbent? Why or why not?

A All of the above, plus the completing a Town Center in McKinleyville, and youth programs all over the 5th District. Land-use decisions around zoning which will be coming up for the board will need lots of public input and participation.



I would stress economic development that serves all residents, and is key to many social problems. Youth activities are paramount. In the eastern parts, agriculture, small manufacturing, and tourism hold much potential for growth. The McKinleyville Town Center, a light-industrial park, and a tourism center at Vista Point are some ideas.

Ensuring local jobs for Native Americans when the Klamath dams are removed, retaining our Mad River water, correcting the Redwood Creek flood problems in Orick, reinvigorating appropriate forestry, cleaning up our beaches and coastal drainages, and tending to our roads and transportation systems are all priorities. Homelessness is a major problem and I have some good ideas to address it, including housing, extending drug rehabilitation and halfway house services to the eastern District, recruiting sheriffs from there, increasing sheriff’s wages, ensuring cannabis does not adversely affect our community in many ways.

These issues have not been adequately addressed and it is time to do exactly that.

Q What is the most common criticism that you hear about your candidacy, and what is your response to that criticism?

A I tend to talk too much, have too many ideas, and make people feel a little overwhelmed. I have been working to change this and make sure people feel that I value their input. It matters to me to get as much information as I can before making decisions, and I’m pretty sure I do, but I want people to feel that.

In campaigning I have appreciated the opportunity to listen more. Walking door to door and talking with folks has been a real pleasure and learning experience. I know how to bring people together to solve problems, and attract necessary funding. I know how to work hard, research issues, and implement workable strategies, and will be open and available to all. Setting the biggest table, rather than serving just the interests of the well-connected is my guideline. My wife and I have four children and 16 grandchildren in a multiracial family with many foster children, so I am very sensitive to social and cultural diversity and needs. 

The opportunity to learn, listen, and work for our community means a lot to me. I am an Eagle Scout and the scout motto is something I take very seriously.

Q Why do you want to represent the 5th District and what qualifications do you have that would allow you to proficiently do so?

A I want to see representation of a greater range of perspectives and find solutions that are more durable than the ones we tend to get, which are too one-sided in their benefits and tend to get tossed aside and redone when there’s a change of political leadership.

I have the experience to bring more stakeholders to the table and the creativity to find solutions that can last — saving us all valuable resources, time, and money.

I have been preparing for this job for 40 years, and am finally ready, having been of service to our community for 44 years. I have extensive experience working with all stakeholders in a variety of development and watershed restoration projects, including the Hammond Trail, the Trinidad Bay Watershed Council, the Mattole Salmon Group and Redwood Community Action Agency. I know and love all parts of my district, and will open office hours in Willow Creek-Hoopa area to serve their needs. I am a lecturer at HSU in forestry, and lead the Mattole Salmon Group, with years of experience training restorationists and equipment operators in this burgeoning economy.

My education, community development experience, and dedication to service to all stakeholders will serve us well.