Dave Pratt said its his experience, ability to ask the right questions and willingness to dive into the minutia that qualify him for a seat on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, District 2.
A resident of the county for 25 years and owner of a winery in Fairplay for the past 14 years, Pratt said his work history began in the restaurant industry. Later he moved to the IT world where he was employed at CableData in Rancho Cordova along with his wife.
Pratt said he and his wife got into the winery business because both grew up in an agricultural environment. “I’ve also wanted to own my own business and make my own decisions,” he said. The idea of owning a winery came to him after he and his wife went on a passport weekend and “had a blast.” That experience led them to buy an existing vineyard, which they named dkcellars.
Calling his winery a mom-and-pop operation that encompasses 10 acres of grapes, Pratt said he maintains the vineyard and does the winemaking while his wife drives the tractor during the harvest and runs the tasting room.
Asked why he decided to run for supervisor, Pratt said he has a long history of doing things. “I was an officer with the Grape Growers when the winery ordinance came up for review in 2001,” he said, and he was president of the Grape Growers during the general plan process, which he participated in. In 2004, he was appointed to the county Agricultural Commission and in 2009 was appointed to the county Planning Commission. He’s also president of the Pleasant Valley Grange Fire Safe Council, a group he strongly supports, especially after the recent Sand Fire.
Asked about jobs and tax leakage in the county, Pratt said if more people spent their money in this county it would create more jobs locally, since so many travel outside the county to shop. He also suggested encouraging more home-based businesses, as with time many of them will grow, move to a business park or office building and hire additional employees. “We should try to grow our own opportunities locally,” said Pratt.
Asked to comment on how the county and the Board of Supervisors currently function, Pratt addressed several different issues. One was the recent handling of two growth control initiatives where one was approved to be on the ballot while another was referred for further review.
He said the board’s decision was confusing and the problem was one of inconsistency in how they treated the two initiatives. Saying the decision created unnecessary chaos, Pratt further claimed he had been asked but had refused to sign any of the five initiatives circulated in the county, adding he had no opinion on them. Instead they simply reflected people’s right to have their view represented at the ballot box, he said, with his position being one of steering clear of any polarization into one camp or another.
As far as his views on some of the big housing developments being proposed in the county, Pratt said the Board of Supervisors has a conceptual review process in place and he is satisfied it works. “Some of these projects have already come before the Planning Commission,” he said, “and were sent back. Until they return there is nothing on the table to decide on.” Pratt went on to say he believes in creating integrated landscapes based on thoughtful conversations among all parties in order to create “balanced and sustainable communities.”
As for the number of departments being moved into the county CAO’s office, Pratt thought it had to do with breaking down the “silos” or barriers between different departments in order to improve communications and service, which he said was needed.
Citing his own experience in this regard, Pratt went on to recount that when they were building at the winery, his wife acted as the general contractor. “Her comment was that at the end of the process, she was ready for a 12-step program,” he said. “This is not a ringing endorsement for how well departments work together on behalf of the public.” Pratt said he thought things were working better internally as a result of the reorganization, but wasn’t sure yet if it benefited the public and employees.
Asked about adding hotels in the county, Pratt said a hotel in Fairplay would have difficulty being occupied at a profitable level. Instead he favored bed and breakfast accommodations or an RV campground similar to the one in Plymouth, saying they would make more economic sense.
As for the hotel proposed on Tilden Park, he said it was too busy an activity for the location. “It’s been taken off the table and hasn’t been back,” he said.
In general, Pratt said there needs to be more thoughtful land use planning in the county and he believes he has the background to do it.
“My advantage is experience. I have a vision of where things could be and how they could be done,” he said. “I have used a microphone to justify things. You can’t walk into this stuff cold. There are complex issues facing the supervisors and you have to have a base to work from. That’s what I have to offer. And I’m big on communication. The county has a general plan but it also needs a strategic plan. We need control of land use or we could be taken over. There is too much talking at, not to, each other. The job of a supervisor is to facilitate that, to keep the full circle of communication going.”
Noting that he didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly decide to run for office, Pratt said he made the decision over a year ago and previously attended a candidate training seminar. Noting that these are critical times for the county with three new supervisors on the board next year, Pratt touted that he has something to offer and in his words, is “in it to win it.”