Ron Mikulaco is challenging John Knight for the District 1 seat on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
Mikulaco describes himself as “enthusiastic, passionate and hard working … a regular guy, a man of the people, not a career politician.”
He came out firing at a recent candidate forum, proclaiming, “It’s time for ordinary citizens to run our local government.” Mikulaco condemned “cronyism” and called for “representation that reflects the will of the community.”
“We can’t continue to do the same things with the same people who’ve been around forever,” he said. “It’s not working and it’s not in the best interest of the community.”
His campaign is strictly grass roots, he said. “I’m not being funded by builders or developers, and I’m not beholden to any special interests.”
But that doesn’t mean he opposes all growth. “I’m not anti-developer or anti-business,” Mikulaco explained. “I’m just pro-community.”
The clear-eyed 43-year-old with a big smile has tirelessly sought out his constituents over the last six months, knocking on an estimated 2,000 doors during the day then attending meetings at night, soaking up the machinations of local government.
Most of the people he met while canvassing didn’t know who their supervisor was, Mikulaco said, a fact he attributes to a “disconnect between the current supervisor and the people who live here.”
“One thing keeps coming up,” he said. “People think they’re paying too much for stuff … taxes, fees, electricity, water, sewer.”
Mikulaco said he understands that much of that “stuff” is delivered by agencies other than the county, but noted that many agencies receive property tax in addition to their fees. He questioned the way property tax revenues are currently split.
Third generation plumber
Mikulaco grew up in Cupertino and recalls working in the family plumbing business from an early age, “passing tools up the ladder when other kids were out playing.”
He was in and out of the trade before and after a three-year stint in Germany with the Army’s Third Infantry Division.
Later he became an estimator for a paving company, a position that “wasn’t as fun as driving tanks,” but suited him better than plumbing, he said.
Mikulaco compared the estimating process to the role of supervisor. “My job was to take a lot of information, put it all together, pick out what was pertinent and come up with an answer,” he said. “It was complicated but I had a knack for it.”
He moved to Folsom in 2001 and dabbled in real estate, buying houses, making repairs as needed then selling them. In 2004 he bought a duplex on Green Valley Road near the easterly terminus of Malcolm Dixon Road and made it his home.
His political activism began with budget discussions at an El Dorado Hills Fire Board meeting about a year and a half ago. He became engrossed in the research, and soon broadened his focus, attending other meetings and engaging decision-makers.
Mikulaco’s 10-year-old daughter lives with him and attends Jackson Elementary School. He said he’s running because, “One day my daughter and my neighbors’ children will inherit all this and I’m concerned about what we’re leaving them.”
One of his top priorities is ensuring that local schools retain their high standards, he said. He opposes the current practice of bussing some El Dorado Hills’ students to Ponderosa or Union Mine. “If you live in El Dorado Hills you should be able to attend school here.”
Reminded that he’s running for supervisor not school board, Mikulaco replied, “I’m out there listening to people, and this is what I’m hearing from parents in the community. The reason I’m running is to give these people a voice.”
Mikulaco questioned Knight’s support of the Capital Southeast Connector, “a six-lane road that starts in Elk Grove and terminates in El Dorado Hills.”
He’s heard concerns about the connector, and wonders how it will improve traffic or affect crime in El Dorado Hills. He poses a similar question about the Silva Valley interchange, planned to break ground this year.
The next board’s largest challenge will be financial, and there are “no quick fixes,” Mikulaco said.
He cited the 2010 census, which predicts 50,000 new residents will arrive in the county by 2025, and said he’s worried that the targeted General Plan amendment puts too many of them in El Dorado Hills.
“They need to be disbursed around the county,” he said.
“We need to grow, and we also need to encourage businesses to come here,” he added. “But it’s also important that we retain the quality of life in El Dorado Hills so people will want to live here.”
He also wants tax revenues from proposed projects to stay in District 1.
Mikulaco was encouraged by freshman EID Director Alan Day’s recent victory. “Alan was an unknown,” he said. “He was heavily outspent, and yet he beat Harry Norris, one of the most well-known and well-liked people in El Dorado Hills. That indicates to me that people don’t accept career politicians and cronyism.”
Mikulaco’s campaign is being funded by a $1,000 loan from his father, plus $800 he loaned himself.
“To win I have to convince the people of El Dorado Hills and Rescue that we don’t have to accept the representation we have now, that as a community, we can do better,” he said.
“I can’t hit a ball out of Fenway Park and I can’t play the cello, but when it comes to politics, I can play,” he said. “I feel like I belong here. I understand it.”