Not everyone’s political hero is a talk show host. But it is for Toulumne County Supervisor Jaron Brandon. His hero is Jon Stewart. Come to think of it, Stewart is an advocate for much better government. Brandon serves in what was the gold fields of California. The days of the old 49ers are alive and well and folks still pan for gold and find it. Join my conversation with Toulumne County supervisor Jardon Brandon and hear the new challenges in the old gold fields.
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Jaron Brandon: Equivalent to billions of dollars in today’s money was hand-picked out of the soil. One one painful at a time. We used to be a runner for the capital of California because before people had settled along the coast and the transportation systems and electrification, we had hundreds of thousands of people in our county. We were a thriving timber industry, marble industry, brick industry, gold industry.
The only thing we didn’t have was a small waterway. If you can’t get a roof over your head and part of that’s local part of that state, how are you going to be able to build a life, have a family and stay there? So that’s what really got me to run. Those are short make the rules. You have to participate.
If you don’t participate, the system isn’t going to listen. You have to make yourself heard.
David Martin: Welcome to the good government show. And you’re about to listen to a really fun conversation first, because my conversation with Wal-Mart County supervisor Gerard Brennan, it’s going to take us back to the Old West, to the time of the California Gold rush. So we talk gold mining because in 1849, when those 49 days were racing in California, they created gold rush towns and many of them into Ptolemy County.
They’re still there. In fact, the Old West is still alive and well and quality. There’s old ghost towns. A stagecoach still rolls through downtown Main Street. The old swinging doors still open in the bar. And you can still pan for gold right in that river and ride a horse up into the Sierra Nevada mountains. As you might imagine, growing up in a place like this leaves an impression.
And like many people, Gerren went away to college. He went to a big city, in his case, San Francisco, but just wasn’t home. So he returned to Sonoma and discovered that while he wanted to come back, the town wasn’t quite welcoming. Being young, he wanted to make a difference, and he wanted to make the path easier for others like him.
So he decided to do something about it, particularly dealing with the problem of affordable housing. He ran for office and today he’s an active county supervisor and he’s out in the county and he’s meeting the people he serves. Look for him in his yellow hat. He’ll explain. So let’s meet a young man who gives you some hope that the new generation of leaders is getting active in local politics and an old gold mining town.
Who knows what riches lie ahead. And I’ll be back with a conversation with Gerren Brandon right after this. The good government show is sponsored by NACO. That’s the National Association of Counties County Government. It’s actually the oldest form of government, the United States, and it touches more people directly. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling law enforcement, water and sewers in most of the country, those services are maintained by the county that’s county government.
Naco is a nationwide organization that represents all 3069 counties across the U.S. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices. Because when county government works well, well, that’s just good government.
Welcome to a conversation with today’s conversations with Jared. Brandon Tell the folks your name, your title, and where you’re from.
Jaron Brandon: David Thanks for having me. My name is Jared Brandon. I’m the District five county supervisor in Waltham County, So it’s the Yosemite area of California.
David Martin: So this must be a fairly beautiful country.
Jaron Brandon: Oh, it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. I have the pleasure of representing this gold rush District two state parks. We’re talking about old school, 1850s, 1870s saloons and iron doors and brick buildings. And I think it’s one of the most beautiful communities to live in.
David Martin: Is are they still there?
Jaron Brandon: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We have most of the businesses in many of the towns actually dress up old timey stuff. I got a stagecoach that goes by my house, a real stagecoach. I know it sounds like I’m kidding, but I’m not a real stagecoach. A real stagecoach.
David Martin: How’s the ride?
Jaron Brandon: It’s good. But you might. You might get robbed on the way.
David Martin: So there are. There’s still a lot of Bandidos. There’s.
Jaron Brandon: There’s some outlaws out out in the out in the sticks there.
David Martin: And I’m assuming we’re talking about Old West Recreation. Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. So beautiful area, Goldrush Town. And then on the other side of the county, this 120 of Yosemite.
David Martin: What’s a gold rush town?
Jaron Brandon: So we’re the 1849 hours. 49 hours, right. We had all of these people from, you know, Europe, from South America, from China. It was one of the most diverse areas of world. They came there seeking their fortune. And as we were just talking about another with a musical background. Yes, Bring a Broom was one of the musical specials.
It was. There’s so much gold in California. You don’t need a pig. You need a broom. And so they came out to seek their fortune in the gold fields, what was called the mother lode quartz vein. Right. And this is the mother lode area of California. So they settled these towns, they burned down, they rebuilt them, and then they burned down again.
And then they’re like, Well, we probably should do brick and iron and a lot of them were lost, but these ones were restored and maintained. So that’s what we call a gold country in the motherload.
David Martin: Was their actual fortunes made in your town back in the day.
Jaron Brandon: Equivalent to built billions of dollars in today’s money was hand-picked out of the soil one one painful at a time actually the largest nugget don’t fact check me on. I might just be like third or fourth now was pulled out of a mine pit that’s within my district and it’s now at Ironstone and in the county next door.
And so we’re talking about huge, huge amounts. But of course back then you might take an ounce of gold dust in and you could buy breakfast at one of the saloons. And so a lot of people made their fortunes. A lot of times it was not the miners, it was the shop owners.
David Martin: The shop. Levi Strauss Right. Yeah, that’s that’s art. Yeah. Did your family come out there at that point? I mean, how far back do you go with the district?
Jaron Brandon: Well, I’m not. Not very far. Okay. So I’m the first one actually born there. Where place it? Definitely has a lot of people. They’re going to say sixth, seventh generation, you know, living in the county. My dad came from El Cajon. My mom came from, I think, some part of L.A. there. So they were both city kids and they just love the area.
It was, you know, 60, 70 years. And they had lived there a long time, but they weren’t native.
David Martin: Are there still folks out there who go out up in the hills with a picket shovel and a pan and.
Jaron Brandon: Oh, yeah, I’m on one of my one of the side things I do, I’m on the 20 Mining District board, which actually represents independent gold miners. So we got about 400 within the county that go up to BLM lands. They have claims and and they still make good money. They they do all kinds of hard rock, placer, gold mining.
That’s just a little tiny, tiny bit.
David Martin: Are we talking about, you know, hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars or billions of dollars here?
Jaron Brandon: Oh, probably not millions. We’re talking some people go out as a hobby, You know, they just go pan the streams. Yeah, they got to camp. They you know, it’s a good excuse to go out and hang out with some friends, have some beers. We’ve got ones that they actually tunnel into the rock.
David Martin: It’s but you can go out there in California. Yeah. In a river. Yeah. With a pan. Oh yeah. And you can pan for gold. Yeah. You’ll find.
Jaron Brandon: It. Yeah. And you can get a claim on federal land. Dig a mine into the mountain.
David Martin: Have you done it yourself?
Jaron Brandon: No, no, no, no, I’m not. I’m there as a as a public rep to help them out.
David Martin: Okay.
Jaron Brandon: With with a confusing claim system. But there are. There are ones that bring in equipment, get the permits and everything, and they probably pull out tens of thousands of dollars with the gold on some of the trips. So, you know, it’s lucrative. If not, you know, they’re going to retire on.
David Martin: I had no idea. You can still pan for gold.
Jaron Brandon: There are thousands of in have actually just elected is a very prominent mining activist with the American Mining Rights Association. I’m going to shout out to Shannon Po in Mariposa County. She just took office about two months ago or a month ago, and he’s a hugely prominent advocate for gold, gold mining, independent gold miners claims systems. Yeah. So we’re out there.
We still we’re still existent as anywhere.
David Martin: It pulled a big chunk out of the mountains to the hills or the rivers. Lately.
Jaron Brandon: They’re not telling anybody. I mean, there’s rumors that we had a giant pit mine, the one that pulled that giant nugget out. It didn’t exhaust itself. Its gold prices went down when South Africa found it to to the story as it goes. So they sold it all. But that motherload vein, it keeps going. And so if they were to reopen it now, that is challenging in California.
Yeah, there’s probably still billions down there, I bet. Really? Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s expensive to get to. You got to go through a lot of rock to get to it.
David Martin: Well, I’m sure all the easy stuff is long gone.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah.
David Martin: But I had no idea. I had no idea. You could still pad for gold to the river. Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah.
David Martin: Now it is fire. Yeah, that’s. Yes, kids. Did you, did your buddies. You have friends that did that.
Jaron Brandon: I did. Well we, we, we were a little lazy. Go out with my mom actually. And we use the gold bug. And gold bug is a metal detector made for for gold. Okay. We were not very.
David Martin: Successful with the old guys on the beach.
Jaron Brandon: Exactly like that. But you’re in an old dried up riverbed, you know, and going over bedrock and help you and you find a lot of nails and stuff, but you find, you know, hopefully a little picker, they call them a little nice nugget. And I think we just weren’t very good at it. But it was a fun family time to go out.
I could get the black sand, you know, but I couldn’t ever find the gold.
David Martin: Are there? I know there are several. These are there old, abandoned, like ghost towns out in your area.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, all around the area, you know, bodies are very famous. One another state. We’ve got one that’s called Chinese camp. You know, it is a living community, but parts of it are kind of old brick buildings that have been abandoned. Right. Columbia, which is one of the towns I represent, that’s the main state park, 1850s, 1870s.
By around 1930 40, it was falling apart and, you know, into World War Two, Battle was getting scrap. Things were getting torn down. The park came in and has invested probably I bet over its years hundreds of millions of dollars in keeping this an asset for our history. But yeah, a lot of them were lost. There were entire towns in my area.
We used to be a runner for the capital of California because before people had settled along the coast and the transportation systems and electrification, we had hundreds of thousands of people in our county. We were a thriving timber industry, marble industry, brick industry, gold industry. The only thing we didn’t have was a little waterway.
David Martin: Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: Now I don’t know if I can document that, but that’s what we all believe is we were second to Sacramento to be the capital at that time. Remember, only a few years before that, there’s probably getting way into that. We were Mexico, we were the state of right in Mexico. And so it was it went from Mexico to a territory completely lawless.
And then the sheriff coming in state of California with 200 appointed deputies to collect the.
David Martin: First.
Jaron Brandon: 200.
David Martin: That’s a lot of deputies to.
Jaron Brandon: Collect the first taxes. So maybe not enough. I apparently there were.
David Martin: More than a few gunfight at the okay Corral.
Jaron Brandon: He lasted a couple of years and I don’t think we know what happened to him.
David Martin: Wow.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah.
David Martin: Still a mystery.
Jaron Brandon: I think. I think it’s a mystery.
David Martin: If I could talk about this all day. You’re compared to many county commissioners. When meets, you’re much younger than most guys. What got you involved at a, you know, younger age? Most people get into this after having a career. It seems like you just jumped in.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah, I mean, I like helping people and I was angry about housing. That was a huge issue. You know, a lot of rural communities, the young people leave because of opportunity and they can’t afford it. Yeah, yeah. We got some charts here at the conference and you look at housing affordability in California, no county looks good. It’s just this big wall of red.
Right? Right. And if you can’t get a roof over your head and part of that’s local part of that state, how are you going to be able to build a life, have a family and stay there? So that’s what really got me to run is a step up is to help people. But it was really the housing situation and it’s the issues that.
David Martin: Affect you that it Why was that issue so close to you?
Jaron Brandon: I couldn’t find it. I rented you know, I came back after, I think finding out what I didn’t want to do. I worked in the Bay Area for a few years. It was just a job and situation like. And I didn’t have a plan, but I’m looking for with a college degree, with some good experiences, you know, and I think a positive attitude.
And, you know, I don’t know if it’s just.
David Martin: Going to be a rough place to live or is it? I don’t know.
Jaron Brandon: It was while I was in Hunter’s Point. Okay. And Hunters points a little rough. That’s where after the nuclear tests, not all the ships blew up. Okay. They went to wash them off in Hunter’s Point. So it’s a little radioactive. All right.
David Martin: But the healthy.
Jaron Brandon: Environment. But the rent was better.
David Martin: There.
Jaron Brandon: So that was fine. When I came back, that was the biggest thing that I personally faced. And I found out, wow, everybody up there, nobody can find a rental. Nobody can find a house. And it’s this systemic problem that is not just an issue of what people don’t want to live there or build. It’s the policies, it’s the zoning, and it’s a rabbit hole.
California housing policy and property policies you could dive into and make a career of. And it’s fascinating and I’m fascinated by it.
David Martin: Is it when you now that you’ve jumped into it and read more about it that I’m sure got way more familiar with than many people does, it makes sense.
Jaron Brandon: As it is, Yeah. Oh, no. Oh, no, no. Nothing. Nothing makes sense. You know, Nothing makes sense about it.
David Martin: What what needs to happen?
Jaron Brandon: I think what has to happen, there’s a few third rails within California politics that really do hold back housing. And which one, you know, the state decides to target and work on is really difficult. They’ve taken a lot of steps to try and move into local control on zoning and planning. But it’s not just an issue of money.
We’ve seen money thrown at problems over and over and it doesn’t fix it. What has to happen is the state has to work with local jurisdictions that want housing and they got to do whatever it takes. Sometimes it’s infrastructure, sometimes it’s roads, sometimes it’s development advice, sometimes it’s rewriting policies that are ten, 20 years old because we don’t have enough staff to be able to handle it.
I think a lot of times there’s this punishing relationship. State sets a goal. We don’t hit it. You’re going to bring down the stick on us. And it’s not always asking, what do we really need? And we do live in a state where it’s very urban, managed. We work very well with our urban county partners, but we’re 38% of the legislative power is in Los Angeles.
And I represent a county of 55,000 people that is politically small but has every right to exist the same as any other community. Sure, it is very hard to get rural issues to the table. So I know I didn’t give you like a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet.
David Martin: I’m sure there is. I’m sure there is. All right. Well, listen, I want to get into we have a question here, here. And I want to get your thoughts on some of these questions. So what is good government to you when you sit as a county supervisor? How do you define good government?
Jaron Brandon: To me, good government, I think in its basic level that they’re good stewards of resources. But it goes beyond that. It’s it’s what’s that the Supreme Court case? You know, it’s I don’t know what it is, but I know when I see it, I think it was.
David Martin: Pornography and.
Jaron Brandon: I didn’t want to see it. I don’t know what type of show this took. BLEEP it out. No, it’s looking at it. I think it really matters. The good government is what people believe is good government. That means you have to be transparent and communicative. And I think the reason we see so many pissed off people, frankly, right now is because they don’t know how that system works.
They don’t know why these decisions happen. And so you can be good stewards and you can make wise and logical decisions. But if we want to rebuild trust in government and there’s a huge crisis in that, we have to rebuild the relationship with the public. And that to me is what good government is.
David Martin: How do you know if you’re being effective? What do you use as your personal yardstick when you you know, self-assess? How do you know if you’re doing a good job?
Jaron Brandon: Oh, that’s a that’s a hard question.
David Martin: For a young lady.
Jaron Brandon: Vulgarity for a team sport, too. Yes.
David Martin: Right. Well, you’re a young guy. You’ve only been in for a couple of years, but, you know, hopefully you’re aspiring to. Yeah. Last longer. Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: I think you have you have a large vision of what you’d like to see done. And then you lay out kind of brick by brick things that maybe get you there. And there is no point where you’re like, All right, I’ve succeeded. Right? Right. I’m we made it. We made it to the Promised Land. I think you just do good work and you do one good thing at a time and you do the best you can.
And I do. Yeah, that’s all it is. It’s one step at a time.
David Martin: Other than voting you out of office, how should people hold you the year of the voters now? And how should they hold you accountable? Not just the people that voted for you. Yeah, but the people who especially who didn’t vote for you. Yeah. How should they hold you accountable?
Jaron Brandon: Well, one, they should vote for me. Okay, sure. That’s my first advice.
David Martin: Yes.
Jaron Brandon: The second is they should give me a call. You know, I’m somebody who’s again, I’m 31. I’m young. Of course, I’m going to be on social media and all that. I put up big signs. I wear a yellow hat that looks kind of funny so people can walk up and talk to me.
I would just like to add, you’re not wearing yellow now.
Jaron Brandon: Right now it’s in my back. Okay? I always have it. I always have it. Okay. Give me a call. So I’m I’m one one’s. I gave out my personal cell phone. I go to your house to go check out the potholes. If they have questions, I want them to at least be angry at the things that I did and not the things that I didn’t do.
And I want them to know the reasons that I did behind it. So give me a call.
David Martin: If people feel like they’re they’re not getting good government. Yeah. From you, from the county, from any really any level of government. What should they do?
Jaron Brandon: I think they should get involved. I think that’s people would be surprised how how few folks believe in themselves enough. There would be competent good people but for one reason or another are too busy or they don’t like how how you know rough it is and it is rough. Yeah they don’t step up. They don’t get on to a committee commission.
They don’t learn the process. And it’d be like trying to be a mechanic if you didn’t understand how an engine worked. You know, you have to get involved in that government. I’d say once you’ve been doing that, come to the board meetings, consider running for office, try to lead a project on your own, and not only look at us as something that’s holding it back and stop it, but how can you help us first to accomplish what you’d like to see?
And then at the end of the day, if if it’s not going that way, if there are real problems, you have to hold people accountable at the ballot box. You have to show up to the meetings, as we said in a long, long ago, is doing club for itself. Those that show up make the rules. You have to participate.
If you don’t participate, the system isn’t going to listen. You have to make yourself heard.
David Martin: You touched on this a minute ago. You said government, this is a quote from you. Yeah. Government’s rough. Yeah. What would you like people to know about government other than it’s rough? And if it’s rough, how is it rough?
Jaron Brandon: I think it’s really meaningful. Yeah, I get beat up all the time, but I wake up every day feeling really good about what I do because I get to and I’m paid to do this. I do this full time. I get to help people professionally and I get to help them with a broad umbrella of connecting with people or trying to solve problems.
I get to walk around my community and see an issue and actually think with the knowledge I’ve accumulated on this, the people I know, how can we solve this? And I might not get all those things done, but I can try and a lot of them I can. That is so empowering because suddenly, you know, you’re not just frustrated by something.
You’re looking at this creative solutions process, which is really special, but it is really rough right now because, you.
David Martin: Know, that’s what I do. Yeah. What is it about? Government is rough. What is it about government that you’d like people to know?
Jaron Brandon: Yeah.
David Martin: You know, you, you said it’s rough, but yeah, touch on that or whatever else. So what would you like people to know about how government works.
Jaron Brandon: If if you’re doing it because you think it’s easy, either one, you might not do a very good job and it’ll be fine, but you’re not there for the right reason or two. You’re going to be surprised and you’re not. You’re going to get frustrated and quit. What I mean, you got to be tough is you have to really believe in why you’re doing it, because there are going to be people that shout horrible things at you.
We live in this very toxic echo chamber at points and many people don’t know who you are. They don’t know why you make these decisions. I have similar conversations 100 times over and over and over explaining this stuff to to try and do it. You have to really believe in what you’re doing. If you believe in what you’re doing, it’s not so bad.
But you have to be prepared that there are folks that will alternate between saying, you are an anarchist, you are a communist too, and un-American. You know, I had full page attack ads. I had a political action committee that formed against, you know, and it’s.
David Martin: If you could tell those people one thing, what would you tell them?
Jaron Brandon: Which people?
David Martin: Those people who took out a full page ad calling you an anarchist.
Jaron Brandon: Do it again. I know that sounds silly, but.
David Martin: What would you tell them about, you know, about the work in government and that you’re trying What would you how would you explain it to them?
Jaron Brandon: Are how would I explain it to them? I guess. I guess I’d say I’m doing my best to it, but you have to learn. Also, a lot of people are frustrated because they just don’t know. But a lot of those folks, you can’t let the haters basically dictate what you’re planning to do. There will always be people that are just purely negative, don’t want anything to happen and you can’t let that cloud.
What’s that? Colin Powell says, quote, You can’t let an A fact or say lets an adverse opinion get in the way of a good decision. You do the best with the people that you can persuade. You’re open, honest, you do it for the right reasons. And if there are some that still hate you for it at the end, but you believe that what you did was the right thing, I mean, that’s that’s it.
This is this is democracy, right? Everybody doesn’t have to be happy. But you do have to, I think. Listen to.
David Martin: Them. So who’s your political hero?
Jaron Brandon: All my political hero. I don’t know if I have one. I know.
David Martin: As far as.
Jaron Brandon: I know, that’s supposed to be a softball question.
David Martin: Too. Well, I wouldn’t say softball.
Jaron Brandon: I like if I had to pick somebody and it’s not a politician. I read the book Angry Optimist by Jon Stewart.
David Martin: Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart, Comedy Central comedian.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. Well, to to a generation, you know, where I think people are losing faith. He took a comedy show and taught people government and how to get involved and how to participate and and in some ways did better than a lot of the talk shows that probably were really just they were as he went on like CROSSFIRE or whatever it was, you know, this is political theater.
This is a gamed system. So I I love what he did. I know he would never classify himself as maybe that type of political figure or a news maker. He’s a comedian, but he had a profound impact on on the world that I really respect.
David Martin: Well, we have never had Jon Stewart as an answer before. So let’s stay with Jon Stewart as you’re political.
Jaron Brandon: And Jon can call me, too, if he wants to. I’m sure I’m inviting it.
David Martin: All right. Good, good. Well, we’ll let him know that you’re available. I think he has a podcast as well. We’ll we’ll discuss it. Great. Great. So you’re from a part of California that’s was once the wild frontier. What’s your favorite dish in your town? What’s your favorite regional food?
Jaron Brandon: Oh, favorite regional food. You know, it’s hard to it’s hard to beat a steak, a steak and a burger at our local places.
David Martin: Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. We had a lot of cuisine come in, but it’s just good American food. Now. Now, if I had to pick, probably my most favorite place has got to be the Saint Charles Pizza. It’s two blocks from my house. It’s in an old saloon, but it’s a woodfired pizza place. They got a pickle pizza there, which I know is it’s it’s a controversial record.
David Martin: You’ve got to be careful.
Jaron Brandon: A controversial statement, but it’s the best pizza I’ve probably ever had.
David Martin: What’s a pickle pizza?
Jaron Brandon: It’s. It’s got white sauce. Obviously, it has pickles on it. I think it has a Oh, they’re going to get mad because I’m going to get this incorrect. Is it some artichokes on it? It’s a garlic ranch sauce. I don’t know. I don’t think about it too much.
David Martin: Like a salad. Out of way pizza.
Jaron Brandon: Oh, it’s. It’s delicious.
David Martin: Yeah, And it’s tough. Please tell me they take it.
Jaron Brandon: Any day over. Red sauce and pepperoni and all that. 100%.
David Martin: Please tell me they have swinging doors in front.
Jaron Brandon: They do? Yeah. Big, old, big old iron doors covering swinging glass doors. Yeah.
David Martin: So does this whole place look like an old West movie set? Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: Actually, hundreds of movies were done off the, like, old steam locomotives and Westerns and Columbia stuff. We’re also famous for Back to the Future, Back to feature three. Most of that was filmed on sets into Army County using a lot of our engines that train and yeah that’s one of the highlights but high noon and a huge amount in the forties or seventies we were besides Hollywood where.
David Martin: The movies.
Jaron Brandon: Were made. We were the Old West.
David Martin: All right, you touch on this a little bit. But, you know, growing up, did you want to be a politician? The better the president. You mentioned you were president of your high school student council here. Yeah, Government in college.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. Yeah, at the university. No, I. I just. I just wanted. I wanted to be liked and have fun, but I didn’t have a plan, you know? I wasn’t like, I’m going to be a politician or a veterinarian or anything. I went to high school, you know, I had a girlfriend. It was a big giant blow up. And I came to college and I’m like, I’m a turnover, really.
I mean, get involved. My family’s always been politically interested, but never active. They didn’t really get onto those committees. I just wanted to be different. So I started doing voter registration and basically everything up to what I’m doing right now. It’s just been raising my hand when I see an issue not being above a task. And then you do it and you see something above that, you’re like, I could take that and apply it there.
And it just kept moving up, that’s all.
David Martin: When do you see a future for yourself in other elected offices?
Jaron Brandon: I could.
David Martin: Yeah.
Jaron Brandon: I like the public sphere, but it doesn’t have to be elected. So we’ll see. You know, I go work on housing for housing policy stuff and I have to be in the hot seat. I can, you know, be the one grilling them. That would be it would be fun, too. But but at the same time, you know, we do need change.
I think at the state, too much of it is through this partizan lens that makes it just frozen or completely railroaded where one side has a power. You know, what’s I count to three on a board, right? It’s counter to the majority. I think we got to get back to a point where we can kind of work together, but that takes some leaders that are willing to buck party trends a little bit and say like, you know, this is a good idea.
And that’s not that’s kind of that’s controversial right now. Working government is controversial right now.
David Martin: Well, let’s let’s bring it back to work in government. Give me an example of something you’ve been able to do in your last two years, in your first two years in office. Mm hmm. That’s a good example of good government and action.
Jaron Brandon: Yeah. So we had a give one really good example. We had a fire district and a volunteer company within my community, a Columbia very beloved district, worked so hard, but on an on a $70,000 a year budget. And the chief made 600 bucks, and the situation just changed to where it was not sustainable anymore. They couldn’t recruit people.
You know, there are avenues where counties are hard to districts and they come in and they’re, you know, the £800 gorilla. And what we did is we organized the community, we talked to them, we brought all the fire officials out. We answered whatever questions came up, 100 person town hall. And then we brought forward a proposal to bring fire protection to this coverage gap.
That is a partnership with the community, with county funds that meets everybody’s goals. We’ve got other examples working with the forest. This is not me specifically, but this is even to the people that I had run against. But I agree with on these principles. We continue as a team to protect people by trying to reduce wildfire risk, better forest management and get environment analysts and public sector federal all the way down to local and industry to work together on a group called Yosemite Standards Law Solutions.
And we’ve gotten I think it’s $50 million, something like that in two years for fuel reduction, a master forest stewardship agreement, which means we got a track to work easily with federal lands and we’re making our communities safer. And a lot more work has to be done. But we’re on the cutting edge of that as a rural county, and I’m really proud of that.
So we’ve we’ve got a lot of big problems. But, you know, it’s just one brick at a time, right? You know, these are good things.
David Martin: All right. So if I come to your town. Yeah. Do I need to get my own, like, go pan? Or do we kind of pick one up out there easily?
Jaron Brandon: Well, you can get a gold pan, I think. You know, you might want a merchant outfit or an outlaw. They made more money.
David Martin: Okay. Yeah. All right, well, thing I. I got a pad for gold. If I could do it, I got to try it. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to meet you. And it was a pleasure to talk to you. And I learned something.
Jaron Brandon: So a pleasure to talk to you, too. Thank you for doing this.
David Martin: Thank you. Kutztown University is a smart choice for Pennsylvania students or students from anywhere looking for an outstanding college experience close to home and in the heart of Pennsylvania, with over 130 majors, CU has endless academic opportunities. Kutztown also offers plenty of on campus housing, 24 seven dining options, comprehensive support services to ensure our students success and so much more.
Kutztown has 22 NCAA Division, two sports teams and a nationally recognized men’s rugby team. How about that? Plus, you get it all with the affordable tuition of a state university. So a visit Kutztown dot edu on the web. Kutztown dot edu. And see why it’s good to be called.
It’s always encouraging to meet young county commissioners like Jeron Brandon. He got involved because he wanted to help improve his home and of course, he and any visitors to Tuolumne County, well, they might just get rich, just grab a pan, a shovel, a mining steak, and who knows? It works in 1849 and it could work again. Hey, there’s still gold in them.
Our hills. Who knew? So thanks for listening. I’m Dave Martin. And that was a conversation with Jaron Brandon. Join us next time for another conversation with another leader in government. Next time on the Good Government show, The Good Government Show and a conversation with is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers.
Our editor and producer is Jason Stershic. This is a good government show. Thanks for listening.