Hometown California

Episode 17- Representing Rural California in the Legislature

November 17, 2020 Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Season 1 Episode 17
Hometown California
Episode 17- Representing Rural California in the Legislature
Chapters
Hometown California
Episode 17- Representing Rural California in the Legislature
Nov 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 17
Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC)

In this episode, our host, Paul A. Smith, sits down with Assembly Member Frank Bigelow for a conversation about his experience being a representative for rural California in the State Legislature. 

Assembly Member Bigelow shares about his transition from local government to state politics, the challenges of being in the political minority in the California State Legislature, and how he builds relationships and stays focused on common ground to be an effective voice for rural California.  He opens up about the personal impact of this year's devastating wildfires and the global pandemic that has created unique challenges for rural areas. 

Elected to the Madera County Board of Supervisors in 1998, Bigelow was later elected to the California State Assembly where he currently represents California Assembly District 5. The district is comprised of the RCRC member counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Tuolumne, and a bit of Placer.

 


Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, our host, Paul A. Smith, sits down with Assembly Member Frank Bigelow for a conversation about his experience being a representative for rural California in the State Legislature. 

Assembly Member Bigelow shares about his transition from local government to state politics, the challenges of being in the political minority in the California State Legislature, and how he builds relationships and stays focused on common ground to be an effective voice for rural California.  He opens up about the personal impact of this year's devastating wildfires and the global pandemic that has created unique challenges for rural areas. 

Elected to the Madera County Board of Supervisors in 1998, Bigelow was later elected to the California State Assembly where he currently represents California Assembly District 5. The district is comprised of the RCRC member counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Tuolumne, and a bit of Placer.

 


INTRO: [00:00:00] 
Welcome to Hometown California, a production of the Rural County Representatives of California, advocating for California's rural counties for nearly 50 years. Hometown California tells the story through the eyes of those who live, work, and play in the rural communities of the Golden State

 

PAUL: [00:00:26]
This is a Hometown California. I'm your host, Paul Smith. Joining me today is Assembly Member Frank Bigelow. Frank is no stranger to RCRC. He was elected to the Madera County Board of Supervisors in 1998, long before becoming an Assembly Member, and obviously is very familiar with RCRC. In fact, he served on the Board of Directors from 2011 through 2012. And then he got the fortunate, or some might even say unfortunate, task of getting elected to the State Assembly in 2012, where he is still currently a member of the state assembly. This past year, he ran unopposed. He represents the 5th Assembly District. He's got a lot of our counties in his district, and those are Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and a bit of Placer I would say he has all of those counties, I think, with the exception of Placer, and maybe a little portion of it. Do you have all of Madera, Frank? 

 

FRANK: [00:01:27]
I have all of Madera and I also have all of Mono County. 

 

PAUL: [00:01:31] 
Well, that's right. We cannot leave out Mono County. Stacy would-- Supervisor Corless would not be happy with us. 

 

FRANK: [00:01:38] 
She would not. 

 

PAUL: [00:01:39]
Frank has got a wonderful family. His great-grandparents settled in Madera County years and years ago. You've done some cattle work, sheep ranch, also been in the telephone business, been very active in Madera County and has a lovely wife of 43 years, Barbara, who if you known Frank and you've ever been around Frank, you obviously have met and enjoyed some time with Barbara. We thought we'd spend some time with Frank talking about his role in the legislature and his role transitioning from being a rural county supervisor to now being in the state assembly and what that's been like and then what his priorities and what his thoughts are, of all things: politics, policy, the future of the state, all of those things. So we're going to cover those today. So, Frank, really glad you're here. 

 

FRANK: [00:02:23] 
Well, thank you. It's a pleasure. It's funny, I got off the elevator there and I was looking at my phone and trying to stay in tuned with things, and I automatically turned to the right when I get out of an elevator. But when you come into the building here, you have to go to the left. And so I'm not used to that. So anyway, I thought it was just kind of a oh, my gosh, I've forgotten a little quirk here. You know, when you come into this building, which way to go.

 

PAUL: [00:02:49] 
Well, we are glad you are here. And we are doing this live with some social distancing going on here in the RCRC offices. So, Frank, you've been in the Legislature since 2012. How has that experience been? It's been now coming up on eight years in just a matter of a couple of weeks. What's that experience been like? 

 

FRANK: [00:03:07] 
Yeah, it's interesting. You know, when you come from a small county and for me, I've had the fortunate opportunity to do a lot of work outside of government, in the private sector, also within the government world. Coming from having been President CSAC, where you're representing every man, woman and child throughout the state of California, you learn about all 58 counties and what's going on in our state. But with that also comes the responsibility of working at the National Association of Counties. I had the great pleasure of serving on the board and serving at times-- well, I started out for a three year term and I went to a one year term because I got elected here. But I was Director of the Finance Department there at NACo, and that's arguably one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world. So you learn a lot about politics. So when you come into the building here, it's different. It's different in the respect of you're going from nonpartisan thinking where people are coming together in a cohesive way to actually do the people's business in a good way. Not that the legislature is a bad way. It's just different because it's now political. So now you have to start thinking more how to represent from the political aspect Democrats, Republicans, Independents, everyone else that doesn't even have an allegiance in any direction. You have to start thinking broader in that context. So with that, combined with the fact that I represent nine rural communities that I've known--  I've lived in Madera County my entire life. My family has since 1800. We've got relationships up and down this Highway 49 corridor that I call my home district. And it's easy to represent my district, although a couple of times there's been a little challenge. But for the most part it's pretty easy because I know the people, they know me, they believe in me. But it gets harder to try to represent those ideas and that direction when you come in front of other people who are representatives from other areas and they don't relate to what's going on in the mountain areas. And I can give a real good example. A good example is when I came in in 2012, the Rim Fire was instantly a burning issue, literally. Two hundred fifty seven thousand acres, the third largest fire in the state's history, followed that with another fire and another fire. Five years in a row, the major fires were in my district. Now, all of a sudden, the coastal areas, the northern California areas, they've had some major fires. And I'm tag-teaming right now with what is the Creek Fire-- Assembly Member Patterson in Fresno County-- and we've got arguably the largest, now, single fire in the state's history. And it's still going even though there's snow on the ground. We,  I would say all of the legislators now are starting to say, yeah, we got to do something about this. There's a relationship forming. So I see good happening right now, synergies, from something that's been very bad. 

 

PAUL: [00:06:16] 
Right. So you kind of alluded to you are Republican. And I forgot to mention that you've been representing the 5th Assembly District as a Republican for coming up on eight years. It's tough. The Republicans are in the minority. How do you navigate through that in what is a very deeply blue state? Some would argue a very liberal state, not just Democrat. It's liberal. And I think it's safe to say you're moderate to conservative Republican. How do you navigate the day to day activities? 

 

FRANK: [00:06:42] 
You know, again, an excellent question. You look at it from 2012 perspective, I'll kind of frame it for you. You walk into the building, the largest class ever having been elected, both Republican and Dems, 38 members coming in as freshmen in 2012. And here it grows to 42 by January with all of the undecided elections that were finally decided. That was one more than a majority of members on the State Assembly floor. We actually could have been our own formidable caucus, but partisan politics puts people in corners. So I came in and there was now 25 members in the State Assembly that were Republicans. Two years later, we were at twenty-eight. Two years later, we're back down to twenty-five. And then we went down to 18. One member left because she took a position in the Senate and then we were left with 17. So now to get directly to your question, how do you make it work, being in the minority? Well, it's a real difficult thing to do. So you have to start focusing on what is good and what is something that can get passed and be successful for not just yourself, but for everybody in the state. So you have to start thinking about in the mechanics of how you can work with others so others are willing to work with you without compromising any of your beliefs or any of your integrity at all. And that's been what I've done, I believe, artfully and successfully. This year I had the only forest bill that got approved and I've had other bills get approved and been successful every year with that. And I think that's a testament not to me, but to the staff that I have. It's a testament to the staff in both caucuses working, analyzing the bills to make sure they're going to be successful and meaningful for everyone. So I think that's how you kind of use the skills that you learned in the nonpartisan world of county-land, where I learned a lot, quite honestly, about the nuts and bolts of everything. And I learned a lot of those nuts and bolts right here at RCRC. That really helped me to digest and understand a lot of differences in communities because we never talked about partisanship, even though there was a lot of partisan people there. We really talked about what does it mean to us in the High Sierras and what does it mean to us over here along the coast? And so you started really building the relationship and understanding each other. And here was the key issue, listening. If you're willing to listen and then understand and follow up, you can be successful. 

 

PAUL: [00:09:32] 
Yeah, we'll probably come back to some more conversations about the legislature, but you alluded to the difference between being in county government and now in the legislature. Clearly, the issue of partisanship in the legislature legislature, you are elected in a partisan manner, whereas in the county boards you're not. One of the other big noticeable difference is going from the Madera County Board of Supervisors to now the State Assembly representing Madera County and a variety of others. What are some some of the other--the calendar, the rhythm, the volume-- what would you describe or some of those other challenges making that adjustment? 

 

FRANK: [00:10:04] 
Well, it's all of the above. I think the big thing is you're one of five members. That means you have to convince at least two others to see it your way. Well, here you have to figure out how you can get 41or 53. And  it doesn't stop there. That's just to get it off your floor. You have to go over and convince the Senate to see it your way as well. And you need every person over there. You need you know, you've got to get 21 over there to make it happen, and it's a lot of convincing of a lot of individuals. But it really isn't just the members. You really have to recognize, you have to convince their staff and make sure that they're understanding so that they can convince their representative that, "yeah, we've done our homework on this. Frank is telling us the straight story and this is good for us to get behind." And I think that's why you see a lot of the bills that I've presented are bipartisan. And I think a key thing is, recently I penned a letter that turned into a letter that was signed by a number of legislators when we didn't see the FEMA, the FEMA money was being rejected in the State of California for our fires and the impact so that we could get our people taken care of. Well, I was just going to write to the President. I was just darned upset and I said, OK, time out. Can we bring a coalition together? Take my name off of the header. Take my name off of it. I want everybody to read this and tweak it and put their own little word in there so that we can have a bipartisan letter that will go to the President. That letter got off the ground, got to the President, and we literally, in days, had a turn around. And, I'll give credit where credit should be. I do believe that every member took that to heart and saw it in a bipartisan manner because we all had one thing in goal-- taking care of the people we represent. 

 

PAUL: [00:12:01]
 Kind of just one last point on this. When you're in the Board of Supervisors, you serve in a legislative manner, meaning you can craft ordinances and craft policy. But you're also in an executive manner because you have a lot of responsibilities in terms of overseeing those policies get implemented generally through staff, which speaks to the relationship between the legislature and the executive branch. You've now served under two governors, Governor Brown and now Governor Newsom. Describe, kind of, that adjustment that you've had to make where you don't just make a law, you can implement it in the Board of Supervisors, where it's just the opposite, being a member of the legislature. 

 

FRANK: [00:12:37] 
Ah, very clearly that's part of the frustration. When you're at the County Board level, you make the rules and then you have to administer those rules. And sometimes that's easy and sometimes that's not so easy because it's really challenging. But the beauty of what I've always recognized of what we do at county-land-- what people have written, people can unwrite to make it right, because maybe we're not as smart as we think we are on the day we wrote it and agreed to it. And maybe it needed to be tweaked a little. When you come here to the State Legislature, the same analogy fits, but it's not as easy to get done. It's very challenging. We have some water laws now that are in place are a prime example. They were pushed through. I'm name it, I'll say it out loud. It's SIGMA , and it's gone through. And there's a lot of folks out there that are just locked into it and not willing to adjust it, even though it's shown that there's some defectiveness within it. It isn't that it's a fully bad package. The reality is it's a package that needs to be tweaked. And, people wrote it and people can adjust it to make it right. And that's what we need to do. But there's an unwillingness because people get ownership and they don't want to let go. And that's a sad thing. And we need to fix that so that we can fix the legislation by getting people to release, holding on to it to say this is my success. Well, it's it's not about me or you are us type of success. It's really about what is truly successful. 

 

PAUL: [00:14:16]
 So let's talk about a typical week for you when the legislature is in session almost nine, ten months out of the year and obviously not necessarily in a COVID dynamic. What's your typical week like in terms of committees and office meetings and things like that? 

 

FRANK: [00:14:32] 
Typical week is a full week, very full week. I will leave the house typically at six a.m., which means I have to get up between 3:30 and 4:00 to actually go out. Sometimes I have to go check and make sure the cows are doing just fine and things are in the right place before I leave. When it's winter time, you got to make sure there's enough wood and everything's prepped around the house for Barbara and to make sure things are just right, because I'll be gone all week. But anyway, I'll leave the house typically at six thirty. I'll drive to get up here. I'll try to get up here by 10:00. Session starts at one o'clock, but you usually have a meeting or two early in the morning. You get briefed on any activities that have been occurring. Then you have to take and make sure there's some catch-up work that you got to take care of prepping for the morning session. And then you have session that can run from 20 minutes long to, in some cases, twenty-four hours long. Anyway, each day goes by and Thursdays when sessions over, I'll drive and go home if it's really late. And late by my standard, it used to be at midnight, now it's if it's past eight o'clock I'm staying and spending the night because three and a half hours to get home, you're driving after midnight and it's just getting tiring. So anyway, that that's the long day. But if you put the day in between Monday and Thursday, there are an enormous amount of committee hearings. There's a lot of prepping, reading and preparing for those hearings because there's a lot of bills. Typically we've been looking at now on the average of over 3000 bills in a year. So there's a lot of reading, a lot of preparing for that. Then there's obviously the meetings that you take with constituents who come in, want to talk to you about the bill. They want to just say hi and say, gosh, this is the first time I've ever been in to the state capitol. I just wanted to stop by and say hello to you. Or even a better day is when students come up and they get to see democracy at work. They get to see their representative. They get to talk and they love coming to the office. One, I got candy. Two, I've got pictures of nothing but the cows and my family there. So it's a friendly home, open, welcoming type of an office atmosphere for for each of them to be a part of. But then again, we have lobbyists like yourself and folks here from RCRC, CSAC, pick a name out there in the world that you know, they'll show up and they want to speak to you about their issues. 

 

PAUL: [00:17:10] 
So you mentioned committee responsibilities. You have some pretty extensive committee responsibilities. Last I checked, you're still the vice chair of the Appropriations Committee.

 

FRANK: [00:17:18] 
Correct. 

 

PAUL: [00:17:18] 
Last time I checked, you're still the Vice Chair of the Governmental Organization Committee. 

 

FRANK: [00:17:21] 
Correct. 

 

PAUL: [00:17:22] 
And you got some leadership promotions shortly after. Can you share what those are and what you'll be doing in those leadership roles? 

 

FRANK: [00:17:29] 
Well, at the end of the session this year, we knew that this was coming. Our caucus chair, Jay Obernolte, had decided to run for Congress and he was successful in his bid to move on to Congress. With that, that left a vacancy in his seat. Our minority leader, Marie Waldron, came to me and said, "I would really like you to step up and become the caucus chair." And I agreed to it. And so I'll have the added responsibility of being the caucus chair, which means you try to pull everybody together, try to settle the differences that may exist within the family, and you just try to keep things organized and moving along and flowing as smoothly as possible. 

 

PAUL: [00:18:13] 
Some of our listeners may not know the ins and outs of the legislature. What is the Appropriations Committee? What is the Governmental Organization Committee? And what does it mean by being Vice Chair of those two committees? 

 

FRANK: [00:18:23] 
Well, it's kind of the same thing-- trying to keep both sides pulling together, not against each other. And so it means working with the chairman a great deal. You want to try to build a solid relationship with your chair so that you can talk about the nitty-gritty issues that are sometimes not as easy to talk about outwardly sometimes. But for the most part, you want to make sure as a Vice Chair that you're bringing your members into the office and explaining and going over all of the ins and outs of the bills so that we're all informed and we can make that decision, hopefully, in a collective way. But if we can't, we certainly can go our separate ways and have differences of opinion, which does happen a good deal. And it happens on both sides. But for the most part, on Republicans, there's a little more differences of opinion because our districts are so widely different in their makeup. As you look at the Appropriations Committee that oversees, as it is kind of self-explanatory, it oversees the appropriation of funds. So that's where all the financing really besides the budget, the budget just gives us the parameters in the abstract way. Here's the outside boundaries. But we can wiggle within those boundaries a little. With appropriations, It's coming in and actually asking for dollars and we say yes or no. And that's sometimes a very difficult situation. The Governmental Organization, again, is kind of self-explanatory. It really deals with governmental type of policies. It oversees what we do all the way down to local counties and cities and municipalities. We really see those ins and outs of things that are just would be more government driven than saying it's a health item or it's a poison item for stuff like that or an ag item. They just deal with the government side of it. 

 

PAUL: [00:20:20] 
So you had two bills that you authored this past year that greatly benefited RCRC and its member counties. And you basically used those roles as Vice Chair of Governmental Organization, Vice Chair of Appropriations, I think, to kind of nudge these bills along. And on behalf of all of RCRC members, thank you for doing this. The first one was actually a bill that helped your home county of Madera dealing with the historic way it is allocated property tax. receipts, and I think folks know that that's a very complex process and sometimes it doesn't go smoothly. Your bill would have kind of changed some of those discrepancies to make sure everybody is fairly treated with respect to property tax. The bill got vetoed, but maybe describe kind of what the challenge was with that and how you were successfully able to get it out of the Legislature and get it on the Governor's desk. 

 

FRANK: [00:21:06] 
Yeah, that was an interesting one. This is a bill that actually moved through the houses with no trouble. It got a lot of unanimous support, let's say, in both houses. And to have the Governor veto it was surprising to me. It really shocked me, but it was a fairly sizable deal. There's a technical error in calculation and it goes back into Madera's history where they had a number of auditors and changes. And I think just something fell through the cracks and was missed and not understood. Anyway, it dealt with the in-lieu-of-vehicle-license funds, and that costs the county about 4.6 million dollars. And so in looking at it, we had to make it a little broader to make sure everyone would be impacted. They could look at this. So we put a matrix together and I got to applaud RCRC.. I got to applaud Madera County's auditor, who really did the lion's share of the work on this and brought it forward and showed all the technical errors and facts and put it in place. So members really didn't have too much question in their mind at all because this was detailed. That sad part was the Governor got it, wasn't sure that the schools weren't getting their fair share and he wanted to make sure and he didn't feel like he had enough information. We might have had a little disagreement there. I might have been able to if he did give me a day or so to get him some additional facts so that he would be comfortable knowing that everyone was being treated fair, but instead he wants to run it again. He made a commitment that he would be willing to sign a bill if we would run it again next year, just go through the budget process. And I agreed. I'll do that. I'll take that issue back on. I think all the players are committed to running this through because it's a very legitimate and fair a solution to a problem that shouldn't have happened. 

 

PAUL: [00:22:58]
 And then the second bill that you were successful, you got this bill signed. I think we all thought it might be a little harder, but you worked diligently. This one affects Mariposa County and Napa County. It originated out of Mariposa, but obviously Napa hopped on later in the process. And this was one of those bills where I went to Governmental Organization that deals with alcoholic beverage law. And you were trying to kind of liberalize the licensing process in Mariposa County and additionally, Napa County. The way that those licenses are awarded in those counties, it just kind of hamstrung Mariposa, particularly with its desire to have additional tourism because it is home to Yosemite. Maybe talk a little about the experience of helping out Mariposa County on this one. 

 

FRANK: [00:23:42] 
Well, as we all know, Mariposa, it's arguably the mother county of most counties in the state. And so it's one of the smaller counties today. And yet they're right at the door of Yosemite National Park and they have a lot of tourism, a lot of activity going on, and they struggle for every dollar to make ends meet and be successful. So they came to me with an idea that, hey, if we could have some more liquor licenses because we're hamstrung, our hands are just really tied here. I said, OK, so let's see how we can do this. And we put together a package. Next thing I know, it's looking pretty good. But then Napa was interested. Then several other counties were interested and it started growing and growing and growing. And I'm going, oh, this is going to be an issue. I know it's going to be an issue because then every county is going to want it to do this. Well, we couldn't get every single Board of Supervisors' letters put together, but we were able to get Napa and we're able to get the Mariposa community's letter together. And once we just focused in on two, it became very clear that we had a real legitimate chance at this being a successful bill. We were nervous all the way through, even to the day when the Governor signed it. You know, you just never know with any bill. But anyway, it's a bill that's going to allow Mariposa to have some more liquor licenses. They have some new hotels. They have some new businesses, some breweries that have sprouted up. And it's giving the community much needed resources to be successful in their community to do the extra things that they want to do. And so a lot of extra dollars coming into the county for Napa, it means the same thing. And we all know Napa is really well known for its wineries, and they still have a thriving community. They're growing. There are wineries, although they took a pretty big shot this year with the fires up there, the Complex. And those fires really took their tolls. In fact, one of my favorite places up there, Meadowood, just North there, just didn't quite survive. I'm really saddened by that, but nonetheless were strong communities and we will rebuild, we'll come back better and we'll look even better than we did before. 

 

PAUL: [00:25:59] 
Well, we thank you again on behalf of RCRC and the member counties that were impacted by those two bills. And it also just shows the skill that you've developed in your eight years in the legislature, the relationships you have with those members to navigate bills, which, as you said, you just never know. You just never know how they're going to be received. So you just got elected to your fifth term. You will, because of term limits, you will be out by 2014, which means you've got four more years in the legislature. What does that four years look like for you? 

 

FRANK: [00:26:29] 
I think it's 2024. 

 

PAUL: [00:26:30]
Twenty four. I'm sorry. My math's off.

 

FRANK: [00:26:31] 
it's OK.. It's OK. 

 

PAUL: [00:26:33] 
I'm still stuck in the 80s, Frank, so you know, but yes. Four more years. What's on the Frank Bigelow horizon there? 

 

FRANK: [00:26:38] 
You know, what's on my horizon is, to keep doing what I've done, be successful at putting forth legislation that represents what the people need, not just what they want, but what they need. And I like wants, but needs are important right now. And there's a lot of things that our communities really, especially in the rural areas, don't get like the more urbanized areas. And I think it's a little unfair. So if we could help give some relief on some of the regulation impacts that we have. Certainly we don't know what's going to happen with the new administration coming in and proposed taxes, what that's going to mean. But we do need some tax relief in those areas. I'd like to look at a lot more of the funding that's needed for our folks at Cal Fire and in the forests and in our community fire departments so that we can help them take up the mantle of cleaning up a lot of these fires and the debris that's been left now in the wake of these fires. So there's going to be much of that needed. I'd like to go back to a piece of legislation and try to revisit that will deal with our state parks to help our state parks, because that really helps not just District 5. We've got a number of state parks throughout the state, both on coastal areas and in the southern part of the state, in the northern part of the state. So I'd like to go back and visit that to try to help get more funding with them. And certainly, something that is always going to be needed and that's ongoing funding for our highways. It would be nice to get some additional money appropriated so that we could get the highways improved so we can get the people in and out safely and quickly to, you know, just kind of address the growth that the communities are having. 

 

PAUL: [00:28:23] 
So in our last remaining moments here, I would be remiss without talking about the big elephant in the room of our society these days. And that's COVID-19 and the way it has changed just about everybody. So on a personal level, how are you doing, COVID-wise? How's your family? How's your family's health? How's been just doing all this. And kind of as a side note, you indicated about the fires. We actually wanted to record this over a month ago, but you had the unfortunate situation of being personally impacted by fires. I believe you and your family were evacuated. And my understanding is things turned out OK for you, but obviously not necessarily good for your constituents between those fires and COVID, how's your health? How's your family? How are you doing? 

 

FRANK: [00:29:06] 
Well, thank you for asking about that. We've been doing fine. We haven't had anyone in the family affected by COVID at this time. Definitely, have had a number of tests. In fact, I'll be going in for another test here in a couple of days. It's a regular thing just to stay in tune to what's going on. But I think from the aspect of COVID, it's really shut down this state. I don't know that it's  been... I think it's been effective for us to make sure we try to reign in the virus, how it's spreading. I think it's done a good job of helping us to recognize that it is a serious issue and we have to take it serious. But at the same time, it's created a whole other level of health issues that we're going to have to deal with. There's a lot of mental health challenge now that's coming from this. We're seeing people in the district, we've seen our murder rates up, we've seen our suicide rates up, we've seen a host of youth feeling anxiety and challenges. And then there's the pent up anger of why can't I get back to work? Why can't I do? People are not good. They're just not made for being kept inside all the time. And so they need to be out. They need to feel successful. They want to feel good about what they're doing in their life. And this isn't allowing that to happen. So I think we have to just kind of grin and bear for a little bit longer. I was pleased to hear Pfizer's announcement today with having a vaccine that will help. It seems to be between 90 to 95 percent successful. And let's hope that they can push that out soon so that people will feel a little more comforted by having able to take some treatment for the virus. I think that's going to be really helpful for a lot of folks. On the other side of the coin with the fires, we've had a lot of people...you mentioned that we were on the evacuation notice. That's actually true. You know, when you're looking at somebody who's got a lot of cattle and got to figure out where you're going to move them, how they're how you're going to handle that, we are in a fortunate area. Our area isn't as timber laden and it isn't as brush laden as many of these other areas. So we were, well-fortunate enough to be able to protect ourselves well. But some of these other areas, a lot of cattlemen up and down the state-- a former president of the CCJ, the California Cattlemen's Association, he lost hundreds of cattle. A friend of mine, I've known him for most all of my life over in the Aubury area, he lost several hundred head as well. They just got burned. Their hooves were burned, he wasn't even able to salvage them. So they were a total loss to him. Other people have lost a good deal of fencing, their storage water tanks are lost and everything. And by the way, if those are listening, a public service announcement, check in with FEMA because they do have dollars available for those kinds of repairs. So you can check with the California Cattlemen's Association directly on that or you can even check in here, I bet, at RCRC, and they will give you directions on who to reach out to for those needs to be met. A lot of the homeowners, though, they're finding it really difficult, even with FEMA, because FEMA pays for something. But insurance pays for something else and the two sometimes are not harmonious. And so there are challenges. So for the folks that are listening, hey, a great deal of attention, listen to advisers, your insurance agents and stuff. I'd really highly recommend it because we had a number of friends, one family in particular, the little girl who got all the baseball cards. You probably heard about her in the news. She got somebody's entire collection because hers burned up. That was just, like, a tearful moment. And some other baseball greats sent some cards in. Anyway, they lost everything. Just everything is gone. But they're young. They're both teachers and they're springing back. They're in the throes of cleaning up their property. They're in the throes of trying to redesign what kind of house they're going to build. But their yard is never going to be the same for a long, long time. But I am-- you can see the facial expressions on me and you that are listening can't-- but the excitement is I was recently up in the Shaver Lake area doing some work in my other part of my life, working for the phone company. And I'm pleased to say there's already new growth starting. So nature or God, however you want to look at it, is at work bringing it back. It's just going to be a little slow, but everything's like a blink of an eye. If you look at it. If you look back many of these areas that have burned, we could hardly notice it five years later. So just take a moment, take a deep breath and relax. It'll all work out, but it's going to be a little stressful in that in-between. But we can pull together and we'll rebuild and we'll make it much better and just as pretty as it was before. 

 

PAUL: [00:34:12] 
Frank Bigelow, thank you. Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, thank you. Supervisor Frank Bigelow. All of those hats that you've worn, you've been a friend of RCRC. You've been a friend to those rural communities up and down the state. We are really tickled that you had a few moments to come by and and share some thoughts with us. So thank you for coming on over and thank you for the work you do over there in the legislature. 

 

FRANK: [00:34:33] 
Thank you very much, Paul, and thank you to the folks here at RCRC. You are really the guardian of that rural way of life. And I appreciate all of your hard work and everybody here on the team. 

 

OUTRO: [00:34:46] 
You've been listening to Hometown California, a production of the Rural County. Representatives of California. Subscribe now so you don't miss an episode. And be sure to rate the review this podcast. I'm your host, Paul Smith, and thanks for listening.