Courtesy of Doug Deitch.
Courtesy of Doug Deitch.

Douglas Deitch is a candidate in the current race for the Third District Supervisor seat in Santa Cruz against incumbent Neal Coonerty.  He has made a platform based on the city’s unsustainable water usage and increased crime.  He hopes to win his first race this year, although he has been a candidate for the position since 1995.


CHP: How many times have you run for Third District Supervisor?

Douglas Deitch: This is actually the fifth time that I’ve run for the supervisorial seat in this county … since 1995. I’ve run for this position in large part to educate the public and make people aware of what’s going on with our water resources. That relates, however, to basically every other economic and naturalist system in this whole region. So, that’s why I keep doing this.

CHP: Can you talk a little bit more about the actual situation with our water resources?

DD: Entirely unique in the world, the Monterey Bay area is entirely dependent on its own groundwater. We have two main agriculture areas here. The Salinas Valley produces about $4 billion in produce a year, and the Pajaro Valley produces about $500 billion of produce. Those two activities basically use about 90 percent of our water resources. We’re using three times the sustainable yield, and 90 percent of that is used for the produce that is grown by transnational corporate conglomerates that rent this land. So they’re using 90 percent of the water to grow exported produce. The overuse of this water causes the level of groundwater to lower below sea level, and the seawater to come into our groundwater. What we’ve done in both of these cases is pump them down so they’re below sea level now, both of them.

CHP: Do you advocate for more localized agriculture?

DD: Every place has a sustainable carrying capacity. If you’re overusing the groundwater and mining it, just like how we treat oil as a renewable resource, then you are basically just exporting that groundwater. That would be fine except we have not established a base sustainable carrying capacity. Agriculture is a very good thing but not when it is destroying every socially economic and natural system. We can be a model, but we are not doing that. So what I plan is to have people become aware of how seriously bad our water problem is and figure out how much agriculture we can sustain without affecting the water use.

CHP: What are other things that you advocate for in this supervisor race?

DD: Another one of my positions here is this model of agricultural production requires cheap labor and the only kind of cheap labor who they say want to do this are people who come from Latin America and Mexico. Santa Cruz is the second-smallest county in the state with 250,000 people, but it is reported that we have 30,000 undocumented people living in Santa Cruz and roughly that many farm workers. So not only are we overusing our water, but we also have an economy here that requires us to export the water. I support the University of California, the biggest business in the county, and the growth of the university as well. I’d like to see them grow in Watsonville to provide the compensatory economic developments there when agriculture production is lessened so we have sustainable water use.

CHP: What will you change if elected?

DD: Gary Patton, a former supervisor, passed a law in this district in 1987 that all of the past supervisors for the past 30 years have intentionally and purposely ignored. It was called the County Well Ordinance that required under the law that they declare a groundwater emergency in 1988. They didn’t. All they have done since 1988 is to change the law last March, which would give them discretion where they have a ministerial duty. It is very key that the person who is sitting in this supervisorial seat here follows the law.

CHP: How do you feel about the city of Santa Cruz becoming a sanctuary city, or one that protects illegal immigrants?

DD: I oppose the city of Santa Cruz’s sanctuary policy. I oppose it in the city of Santa Cruz, but not in the city of Watsonville for these reasons: in Watsonville they use something close to 30,000 farm workers, and most are undocumented. I don’t see that there is any big interest group that is necessary to the Santa Cruz community that justifies the city to have a sanctuary policy like Watsonville, because what I think happens is [that] gangs, crime, trafficking, and illegal undocumented immigration are related. I think it’s the first obligation of the person who takes the supervisorial seat here in the third district to basically take care of the safety of the community.

CHP: What makes you qualified over other candidates?

DD: People are playing politics. What we need are people who understand how this area works, how it’s farmed, and where the water comes from. I’ve been working on this for 40 years. I have a whole plan. The two main issues are the desalination plant and the water policy, along with community safety. I think my positions are very sensible, rational, and counter to the current supervisor, Neal Coonerty.


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