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West county supervisorsial contenders offer up pension options

The two challengers trying to unseat Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo both say the current Board of Supervisors has been too slow in dealing with the current pension crisis.

Former Supervisor Ernie Carpenter, who is vying for his old 5th District seat, said the board already should have kick-started its pension overhaul efforts with non-union county managers, and that all county employees, including public safety workers, should make pension concessions.

"The point is they have to get started," Carpenter said. "Where they start might be a question of strategy."

Veronica Jacobi, a former Santa Rosa city councilwoman, said scaling back pension benefits for new county employees alone would not likely solve the mounting pension crisis. Current employees, she said, are going to have to give up something.

But pension change should begin with county managers and supervisors themselves, she said.

"How does one ask for concessions without giving," she said. "When one is making more than $100,000 and expecting someone that's making $40,000 or less to make concessions — I think that's immoral."

Carrillo defended the board's efforts to control rising pension costs.

"It's easy in the context of a campaign to make a lot of grandiose claims of what they will do and how fast they will do it," he said.

He said the board has been "aggressively demanding answers from county staff about what the law will allow us to do," and he believes the county <NO1><NO>leadership should and will set an example through their own concessions.

Carrillo would not give specific targets for such measures as benefit caps, saying he did not want to negatively affect current negotiations.

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