Rockholm responds to criticism over executive raises

Challenger Duran says not so fast
By: Eric Laughlin, The Press Tribune
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District 1 Supervisor Rocky Rockholm told a group of about 75 supporters Wednesday that he has been wrongly criticized over his vote to hike the pay of several county executives. The one-term incumbent and retired Roseville police officer addressed that issue and others during a formal kickoff of his re-election campaign held at a Roseville restaurant. “If we wouldn’t have approved those raises, we could’ve been sued by the employees involved,” he told the group from a podium at Basic Urban Kitchen. The supervisor said he and two of his colleagues (Supervisors Jim Holmes and Robert Weygandt), were left with no choice but to approve the 5 percent raises, since the pay increases were guaranteed by a county ordinance. But when reached for comment Thursday, Rockholm’s challenger, Jack Duran, pointed the finger back at Rockholm. “Who do you think controls that ordinance?” Duran said. “The county supervisors. They could have rewritten it or made adjustments to it before this. The budget crisis didn’t just begin. “And we’re talking about the county,” he said. “The county gets sued all the time.” Duran, a local attorney and former board member of the Roseville Joint High School District, entered the race last month with the support of Placer County Taxpayer Association President Wally Reemelin. Rockholm did say he approached the four other supervisors in a recent closed session meeting to express his frustration with the ordinance. “I said I wanted it stopped,” he said. “And I think every one of us there felt the same way.” When it came time for the pay increase vote on Feb. 9, Supervisor Kirk Uhler stood on the sidelines, as his wife Tamara was one of the executives who stood to benefit from the raise. But Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery voted no. “I don’t know that she knew the whole story,” Rockholm said of her vote. “I certainly didn’t want to vote for it either, but I did want to make sure we treat all employees the same.” Duran, who has proposed a salary freeze on all non-classified employees, said Rockholm needs to step up and set a better example. “Leadership starts at the top,” Duran said. “In these economic times, raises need to come to a complete stop. It just doesn’t look good when county workers are put on furlough and executives are getting raises.” In his kickoff event, Rockholm also said he hopes to engage the community in his quest for common sense solutions to the fiscal crisis. Son-in-law Steve Schweig said Rockholm will provide steady leadership at a time when it’s needed more than ever. “He believes in doing the right thing even when the right thing isn’t the popular thing,” Schweig said. During his speech, Rockholm cited more than 25 local officials who have endorsed his candidacy, including two Superior Court judges. Duran’s spokesman Todd Stenhouse said he doesn’t find that surprising. “Rocky’s a consummate political insider,” he said. “This is an election about the people of Placer County, not the politicians.” Rockholm’s spokesman Kent Pollock responded that not all of the endorsements are from politicians and that Rockholm has been a candidate of the people.