Elections 2020 Guide – Inyo County Fourth District supervisor candidates

Kristina Blüm Justice
Staff Writer

Don Bright

Don Bright of Independence, retired Navy commander and airline pilot, hopes to continue his lifetime of service by running for the office of Inyo County Fourth District supervisor.
“It was a continuation of the public service I started in the military and a continuation of my DNA and everything my family has always done,” Bright said of his campaign for the Fourth District supervisor seat. “I’m definitely not a politician; more like former cowboy, fighter pilot, airline dude.”
For Bright, one of the biggest concerns is the ongoing water issues in Inyo County, particularly the ones that directly affect the Fourth District. With most of the major well fields located in the Fourth District, Bright said he particularly is concerned about the mitigation measures that have not been completed in a satisfactory manor.
Bright’s father, the late Keith Bright, was one of the Inyo County supervisors who fought for the Long Term Water Agreement, which was a compromise between the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Inyo County that was put into place in 1991. That fight, which lasted for years, left a lasting imprint on Don and his sisters, who remain active members of the Owens Valley Committee and watch LADWP to this day.
One of Bright’s goals, should he be elected, is “continued enforcement of the Long Term Water Agreement, and continuing to the work that the county supervisors are currently engaged in. They work together as a team, and are respectful of each other. Working together as a unit is key. Even if there are disagreements, they’re respectful of each other,” he said.
“Another issue is economic stability for Inyo County,” he said. “It’s directly tied to water issues and our main source of income in the private sector, which is tourism. We need to consider continued recreation within the Owens Valley and how we’re going to handle that gong forward, particularly with the volume of people.”
Bright said he also is keenly aware of the county’s budget situation.
“I’m a supporter of how the county government has been fiscally conservative, which has kept the county at an even keel as the economy fluctuates. They’ve done a good job.”
Affordable housing remains a major issue in Inyo County especially in the southern part of the county, a situation which Bright notes is not unique to this region.
“Having traveled to every corner of the U.S., I can say that this is not a unique problem and there’s no easy solution. But I’ve worked on complex problems before.”
Bright served in the Navy as a pilot before retiring from military service with the rank of commander and beginning to work for United Airlines, where he worked as a pilot for more than 20 years. When he wasn’t in the sky or serving in the Navy, he has always called Independence home. Bright first learned how to fly at the Independence and Bishop airports.
Bright lives in Independence, where he is part of the Independence Civic Club. He is a member at large of the VFW and American Legion, and still helps run cattle in the Independence area.
Anyone who would like to learn more about Don Bright or who has questions can email dbright4supe@gmail.com.

Deena Davenport-Conway

Deena Davenport-Conway, a small business owner and advocate said she hopes to bring her experience and perspective to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors as she joins the race for the Fourth District seat.
“I’ve always wanted to work here and get involved politically, to protect the valley and the mountains, and enrich the lives of those who live here,” Davenport-Conway said. “I also would like to try to help people grow small businesses in ways that are smart and prepared for the future.”
One area of concern for Davenport-Conway is addressing an influx of visitors to the area. Whether the region is intentionally marketed or not, word about the beautiful Eastern Sierra has spread and visitors will continue to come, she said.
“There’s a lot of talk about sustainable recreation,” she said. “People are coming and there’s a lot of destructive behavior. I would like to create strategies to help people adopt a ‘leave-no-trace’ effort.”
Davenport-Conway said she often enjoys hiking in the Sierra and spending time outdoors.
“It’s an honor to live here,” Davenport-Conway said. “There’s a lot of wonderful young people who are doing a lot of great things in the Owens Valley as well. There’s so many people with environmental leanings who are young, and seeing what they’re going to do in the future is exciting. They have a lot of good answers.”
Davenport-Conway already has started working on projects, such as petitioning Caltrans to make highway crossings safer along U.S. Highway 395.
“I’ve been preparing myself so that I will be ready for the job the moment I’m elected,” she said. “I’ve been attending meetings, going to civic clubs, school boards and understanding how all these entities work. I’ve formed a working relationship with Caltrans and LADWP so the day I get in the office, I can start working on the Veterans Walkway project.”
The Veterans Walkway project has been an ongoing effort to have a sidewalk built from the north end of Big Pine to the Veterans Memorial.
“It’s a seemingly simple thing that’s wrought with bureaucracy – but I’m good at dealing with bureaucracy,” she said.
Davenport-Conway spent her summers as a child visiting Big Pine Creek, traveling from her home in Southern California. Later on, she moved to the Bay Area, where she became involved in community activism, theater and opening her own businesses. She was a business owner in San Francisco and Oakland for more than 22 years. During that time, she founded the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association.
“I worked hand in hand with then (San Francisco Board) Supervisor Scott Wiener, drafting legislation to protect small businesses from predatory companies,” she said.
Davenport-Conway said her campaign for Inyo County Fourth District supervisor is endorsed by now state Sen. Scott Wiener.
Davenport-Conway and her wife bought a house in Independence five years ago, moving to the Eastern Sierra full time three years ago. She and wife, Gunner, own Luxe Salon and Indy Coffee Roasters in Bishop.
“I like the idea of being the kind of district supervisor who’s like a major, the person who people can come to when they have a problem whether it is small or large,” Davenport-Conway said. “I like to draw communities together, not separate them. I really want to work with the tribes, combining state, local and federal avenues of handling things.”
To learn more about Deena Davenport-Conway, visit Deena4.org.

Jen Roeser

From leading pack strings through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mule Days arena to wading through the red tape of wilderness policy, McGee Creek Pack Station owner and rancher Jen Roeser says with her experience, she’s ready to take on the challenge of being the Inyo County Fourth District supervisor.
“I’m good at building relationships, and I know how to do it at the county, state and federal level, and I want to do that for Inyo County,” Roeser said. “The reason why that is important is because Inyo County is 98 percent federally or LADWP managed land, and we need someone who understands public lands policy and can effectively advocate for the policy needs of the county.”
As a pack station owner, Roeser said she has dealt extensively with the Forest Service and wilderness policy. She has also dealt first-hand with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as a ranch owner on an LADWP lease.
Roeser has a diverse background of experience, from helping supply livestock for films to alfalfa ranching, to organizing major events such as the 100 Mule Walking the LA Aqueduct project. She is a founding member of the American Mule Museum project, is part of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group Advisory Board, is part of the Mule Days Committee, and is part of several other advisory boards and commissions.
“I feel my job, if I’m elected, is to listen to and represent the people who are truly effective at what they do, whether it’s the Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, the Big Pine Civic Club, Wildcare Eastern Sierra, the American Legion – the list goes on and on,” she said. “I want to effectively listen to them and advocate for those people.”
One project Roeser looks forward to continuing should she be elected is working towards having commercial air service in Bishop.
“It’s vital to our quality of life and our economic development,” she said. “I think Inyo County has done a great job on that project.”
For Roeser, another concern is “retaining our rural way of life here, through agriculture and tourism, and the things that make our culture and way of life so unique and special,” she said.
She also hopes to make sure the voices of the two tribes in the Fourth District are heard.
“I would like to be a good listener for the tribes, and I’m looking forward to engaging them,” Roeser said, praising the economic endeavors the Independence tribe has undertaken to expand their opportunities, and the Big Pine tribe’s environmental work.
The Roesers have owned McGee Creek Pack Station above Crowley Lake for 32 years, but Jen has been working there for 42 years. When she’s not in the Eastern Sierra wilderness somewhere, Roeser lives on a ranch north of Independence, along with her husband and several long-eared Mule Days celebrities.
To learn more about Jen Roeser, visit jenroeser.com.