June Editorial: Open up Sonoma County

Written By: President Jeff Carlton
Published: June 3, 2020

Open up Sonoma County

I am sure for most of us these last two months have seemed like an eternity. Whether you are fortunate enough to still be working or are at home, I think the days all seem to meld together. People in our county are struggling to make ends meet and get work done. Many of us have taken on the task of homeschooling our kids while somehow completing all normal tasks and also wondering where the money will come from to keep businesses open. For me personally, this whole shelter in place thing goes beyond agriculture and is affecting our community and county. I have family and friends whose businesses have been deemed “non-essential” and have not opened or worked in two months. Those businesses put food on their table and provide for their families and the families of their employees as well. That IS essential and it is past time to let these people re-start their lives again.  

Where is our county’s leadership on this?!  It appears to me that our supervisors simply take their cues for our county Health Officer and the County Council. So I would ask, “Are the supervisors even needed to run our county?” They are supposed to take advice from them and weigh the information. Our county’s health officer is obviously concerned about health and in that she does a good job, but she is not an expert in the economy, nor should she be. 

It is here that our supervisors need to assume leadership and have a two-sided approach to “re-open” our economy. 

The economy is health too and should be treated as such. We have been told that you can’t open your clothing store because of sanitary concerns with clothing, hangers, and such, but you can go to Wal-Mart and try on all the clothes you want.  Our county government is picking winners and losers and discriminating against businesses. Don’t tell me that my wife’s’ hair salon, with 4 or 5 people at a time, is “less safe” than the crowded stores I’ve been to in the last two months. You do not need to “kiss the ring” of the governor to open up our county. We are here and we know what is best for our county, not Sacramento. We have done our part of sheltering in place for two months to flatten the curve. It worked, so now let us get back to work to flatten the curve of unemployment. Any more clamping down on society now is about control and not safety. Whenever government attempts to seize more power, it’s always done under the guise of safety and knowing what’s “best for us.” I would say that many of us are adults and know how to best keep ourselves and our families safe. I don’t believe that myself or anyone else is under the illusion that if people open their doors, there will be a flood of people to come in, but no one can come in at all if they remain closed.  I find it funny that all the people making these decisions are still collecting a paycheck while many are not or are severely cut back.

I want to commend Tawny and our great staff for continuing to make things go at Farm Bureau and keeping our members informed of the day-to-day changes.  We had a recession in 2008 and we are going through another one now, but this time it feels very different than before.  I am worried about my friends’ and families’ businesses surviving and the far-reaching effects of this shut down for many years to come. I hope by the time you read this we are back to the normal, normal and it’s business as usual.

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