Ex-Sonoma County Supervisor Charles Hinkle dies at 86

Charles Hinkle, a former Sonoma County supervisor and environmentalist who was recalled from office during a volatile era of growth and tax battles, died Saturday in Iowa where he lived in retirement.

Hinkle, 86, was one of two county supervisors, including Bill Kortum, who were recalled in 1976, in a campaign instigated by the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association.

Recall proponents insisted the issue was "excessive taxation" and "fiscal irresponsibility," while anti-recallers said it was really about future growth.

"He was in direct conflict with those who wanted to build, build, build," said his daughter, Robyn Kocher of Dakota City, Iowa.

Hinkle was described Sunday as a central player in some of the county's early environmental efforts.

"He was a key figure in advocating much more rigorous regulation of development," former west county Supervisor Eric Koenigshofer said Sunday.

He said Hinkle helped lay the foundation for future general plans that called for city-centered growth along Highway 101, the protection of agriculture and open space.

Hinkle served one, four-year term at a time when the population in the county mushroomed and the debate over how to regulate growth intensified.

Kortum said Sunday the recall forces that targeted him and Hinkle "hit us on taxes," but that was really a front by the "development and land speculation community."

"We had called a moratorium on all lot splits in the county until the General Plan was completed," Kortum said. "We knew it was a politically risky thing to do. But the county was being cut up very rapidly."

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