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Forestville farm owner Lynda Hopkins enters 5th District Sonoma County supervisor race

Lynda Hopkins, a Forestville resident and independent farmer, has entered the race for Sonoma County’s 5th District supervisor seat, currently held by Efren Carrillo.

Hopkins, who with her husband owns Foggy River Farm in Healdsburg and has never held elected office, said her political aspirations were sparked recently by the controversial development proposed by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians outside Windsor. The plans include a tribal housing project and, potentially, a new resort hotel and large-scale winery.

Hopkins has lodged objections to the proposal and has helped organize opponents.

“I discovered I have an ability to work with diverse groups of people to solve really complicated problems,” said Hopkins, 32. “I got involved because there was no outreach to any of the neighbors - we had no idea what was going on. I believe so deeply in government transparency, so that’s what drives me to run for supervisor.”

Hopkins’ farm is on Eastside Road, which falls into Sonoma County’s 4th District represented by Supervisor James Gore. She and her family live in the 5th District, which takes in Sebastopol and the coast up to Mendocino County. The couple grow vegetables and raise sheep, goats and chickens.

Hopkins announced her bid for county office quietly last week in a news release. She is the first candidate to announce a run for Carrillo’s seat, which he’s held since 2009.

The potential field of candidates vying to represent west county is growing more crowded as the June 2016 primary nears. Noreen Evans, an attorney and former Santa Rosa councilwoman who retired from the state Senate last year after a decade in the Legislature, said she is seriously considering a run. Other candidates include former supervisor Eric Koenigshofer, who represents the Ratto Group; Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action, the area’s largest environmental organization; Rue Furch, a former county planning commissioner who lost to Carrillo in 2008; and Herman G. Hernandez, a first-term Sonoma County Office of Education board member.

Carrillo’s second term representing the west county expires at the end of next year. He has not said whether he plans to run for re-election.

Hopkins is still forming her campaign. She does not have a campaign manager and has not sought formal support from major groups representing agriculture, labor, the environment and the business sector.

“What I’m hoping to earn are the endorsements of my neighbors and community,” she said.

Hopkins holds a graduate science degree from Stanford University, where she specialized in land use. She is the former executive director of Sonoma County Farm Trails, and she volunteers for Farm to Pantry, a local fruit and vegetable gleaning nonprofit group. She also reported for the community newspaper Sonoma West Times and News from 2009 to 2013.

She said key issues she plans to address in her campaign include creation of affordable housing, preservation of open space, strengthening coastal protection, increasing access to broadband Internet and streamlining the county’s land-use permitting process.

“I think I bring an interesting perspective, both as a small business owner and a rural resident who lives in the country - I drive on our rural degraded roads, I see the winery events,” she said. “I think we really need access to affordable housing and jobs … and we need to make sure we have access to clean water and a healthy environment.”

You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 526-8503 or angela.hart@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ahartreports.

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