Kevin Loewen District 2 Supervisor Candidate

Giving back to District 2 and the community is at the heart of this campaign. I am blessed and honored to work for a community services district (El Dorado Hills CSD) – where I have so many opportunities to make the quality of life better through exceptional government services, and  that’s only one of many ways in which I embody giving back to this great community. I’ll walk you through a little bit about myself, and I hope you  see why “Giving Back” is a big part of who I am, and why I’m the proven option for County Supervisor. 

Kevin Loewen Bio and Brief Background

I’m married to my wonderful wife, Lara, and the father of three boys – Kevin Jr. (Kal), Lucas and Oliver. We live off lower Sly Park Road, and love the clean air, blue skies, beautiful trees, open space, recreation wonderland, and nice neighbors  that make up the community we call home. We moved from Kings County in early 2014, where I was born and raised. My fraternal grandmother still owns and lives on the 100-or-so acres of farmland, where I spent memorable summers playing in irrigation ditches, riding on tractors, milking a cow, and learning how to work in cotton around the age of 10. Professionally,  I moved up in cemetery work as a Cemetery Groundskeeper, and Cemetery Foreman at Lemoore Cemetery District (a special district). I then held the position as Parks and Grounds Superintendent for Kings County; Parks and Planning Director, and now General Manager for El Dorado Hills Community Services District. Between growing up, hanging out on a farm, and becoming General Manager, I’ve had several other overlapping jobs and experiences that might be of interest too. I’ve delivered pizza; I’ve been a Janitor; Environmental Specialist; Gardener; Cement Layer and Finisher; Roofer; Behavior Analysis Therapist and an Organizational Behavior Analyst.

I’m a strong believer in lifelong learning. I have a litany of educational courses completed on topics ranging from accounting, to project management, planning & land use to labor negotiations. My formal education includes a Master’s in Psychology, with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis, and a focus in Organizational Behavior Management and Behavioral Therapy. I’m a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and I hold certifications in a few other areas including California Qualified Applicator License for Pesticides, with six category endorsements; Landscape Irrigation Auditor; Playground Safety Inspector; and Parks and Recreation Executive.

Giving Back

In my campaign election statement, I pledged to give back 50% of my net salary as Board Supervisor to not-for-profits that would  directly benefit District 2 . I believe by doing this we can make a difference together. Giving back is contagious! I'd like to see more candidates take part in the giving back effort to make El Dorado County even better. You might wonder about the other 50%... well, my wife and kids might like to have a say in that!

Giving back monetarily is only one important way to make a difference. The others are through public service and volunteering. There is great joy in doing something for others; something that they need, or something that they didn’t expect, which made their heart smile. Let me give you a few examples. While working at the Lemoore Cemetery District (approximately 6 years), it was through personal care and attention to those that had lost a loved one in which I began to experience why service from others is so important. People that were at a very low point in their lives needed sincere compassion, during the ‘business’ part of taking care of their loved ones’ final services and expenses. Providing that sincere compassion came naturally to me, even though we were working through a business transaction of grave selection and burial services. The gratitude that came back to me through their kind words, their tearful smiles, and even in solemn moments of connection, brought about a desire to find more ways to make a positive difference for other people. Also during this period, I had two very meaningful volunteer experiences. One was a youth fishing derby that the local city recreation department orchestrated. I helped with setup and breakdown, registration, baiting little kids’ hooks, and providing encouragement. Being a part of this wholesome, family fun event gave me insight into how a local government can bring people together in meaningful ways. A separate volunteer activity was when I took a week of my vacation from work and went to an elderly care & hospice center to provide a listening ear to those residents. During this experience, I found there is such a wealth of knowledge and history in our older populations; that this wisdom should be honored and garnered. I also learned that providing the utmost dignity and respect for our older populations is very important to me.

My Giving Back philosophy is one more way to  make a positive difference now. My employment path into Kings County Parks & Grounds afforded me many opportunities. During those years (approximately 6), I was continuously the liaison for a Museum Advisory Committee, Historical Society, Sportsman’s Gun Club, and the Fish & Game Fines/Advisory Committee. Through each of those groups I helped in leading them to new ways to fundraise and then give back those funds to meaningful purposes (e.g., funding for artifact archiving; funding to identify and preserve historical sites; trapshooting improvements; funding for equipment that fish and wildlife officers needed, such as dual band radios). It was also during this period of time that I liaised to the Burris Park Foundation. This Foundation’s efforts were toward preserving a county regional park from being mothballed due to budget cuts. The way this preservation was made possible was through building an outdoor education center at Burris Park. Through securing State grants, local fundraising, and a lot of hard work, we were able to construct a multi-purpose room, create curriculum for outdoor education, modify the park to accommodate the curriculum, and establish a solid program in which the area schools perpetually took part in this. In looking back at how they are doing now, I see that through those early efforts and successful fundraising, they now have a residual source of income from which active fundraising is no longer necessary. This feels so good to have been a part of something that has, and will, make a positive difference in so many lives.

My years with Kiwanis Club of Hanford were so enjoyable too. The kids’ lives that we made better through various efforts, and the fellowship of a Club to do it with gave compounded meaning to giving back. Even when I took a break from Kiwanis to focus on my Master’s program studies and practicum, I found my way toward helping others. During my Master's Degree practicum, I assisted in both the provision of care and services, and the formation of a not-for-profit for behavioral therapy and education for those individuals with developmental delays (i.e., Autism Spectrum Disorders). Building the business side of things and providing the services for this segment of the community was a very fulfilling part of my life. When you see the growth in skills and abilities of an individual because of the services you are providing, it really gives your work a meaningfulness that makes you want more and more of it. That meaning is one of the reasons why I get supercharged from the community-benefitting work that I do. Even when it’s challenging, it’s not work, it’s a passion that my track record supports.

Flash forward, how am I giving back now. As a Rotarian  (El Dorado Hills Rotary) and the Business Agent for the EDH Promise Foundation, I have found that there is such a tremendous network of giving, caring people, yet such a need for additional philanthropy. We need additional difference-makers in as many ways as possible. The EDH Promise Foundation is part of the larger El Dorado Community Foundation (EDCF); both of which are bringing people together in a variety of ways to make meaningful positive impacts in this community. Right now, EDH Promise Foundation & EDCF manage funds and assist in the EDH Bowmen Club, and Veterans Memorial at Promontory Park in El Dorado Hills. EDH Promise Foundation has taken on the leadership role for securing stakeholders, fundraising, and building the framework of Bass Lake Regional Park in El Dorado Hills. I’m very proud to be a part of those efforts. As the General Manager of EDH Community Services District (CSD), I’m continuously pursuing ways in which we can connect to “build community, with the community”. Some of those connections are through active involvement, participation, joint use agreements with Rotary and other service clubs like Hands 4 Hope; EDH Promise Foundation; Sports League Groups ; Boys and Girls Club Western Slope; elementary school districts, charter schools, and Oak Ridge High School; Chamber of Commerce; local agencies , other County departments and administration; community groups such as HOA’s, Bass Lake Action Committee, Area Planning Action Committee, and more. That’s the short list. I have the skill, the ability, the connections, the desire and the drive to make this great place we all call home even better through a Giving Back approach. Let’s discuss my platform points.

Open Communication and Transparency.

It’s quite difficult to layout an all-encompassing game plan and platform. However, my approach is to not shy away from a challenge that needs to be addressed. This means that the issues of our communities within District 2 – and the overall community of the County – require the attention of policymakers because, as a policymaker, I’m here in service to you. It also means that sincere listening and exploration of reasonable solutions to meet the needs of those communities must occur. I’m here for you to voice your concerns, and to explore solutions to the issues. Let’s grab those bulls by the horns and look them in the eye together. My track record in doing this is very apparent in the El Dorado Hills area. I’ll own my actions, while also requiring those at the County to own their actions through an exceptionally robust accountability effort. We all owe this sort of ownership and transparency to the public.

Process Improvements for Efficiencies and Optimization.

As times change, so do the needs and desires of the public being served by government. Along with changing demands there is a necessity to change how things are done, otherwise, the services provided lose their relevance. They lose relevance qualitatively and quantitatively. This is where doing things differently comes in. A new approach, a new perspective, applying technology where it makes sense, and making those difficult decisions to ensure that improvements are made is what is required. My track record as a public sector employee, department head, and general manager/treasurer is testament to an enduring and unrelenting pursuit of demanding more efficiencies, being a change agent, and delivering improvements for the agency, and for the public served by the agency’s good works. I’ve had to weather the economic downturn as a budget manager in a poorly funded operation (Kings County Parks and Grounds). That taught me how to be creative and innovative so that a continuation of services under a tighter budget could be delivered. It also taught me that in these new times of doing more with less, we have to learn to do more differently, oftentimes with less. Through these optimizations I believe that there is less of an appetite to go back to the well of the public’s pocketbooks to ask for more funding in the form of new taxes. It’s also through these optimizations that confidence is built with the public, and should there be a valid need for additional allocations, then maybe we already found it in our process improvements.

Safety (Roads).

Now, I’m not a road expert, but my maternal grandfather owned and operated an asphalt paving company out in the California High Desert, and my father worked in the Kings County Roads Maintenance Division for nearly 30 years. So, I’ve picked up a few nuggets of information on roads maintenance and funding programs/operations, as well as developed a lot of resources in that arena. El Dorado County is a wonderful place to live, work and play. It also presents challenges to safety. For instance, we have a large geographic area with elevation/climate variations which present weather related challenges. The rain on the west end of District 2 turns to heavier rain or snow on the eastern side. Those conditions make safe travels on reliable roads difficult, especially when we have tourists or visitors that don’t know or respect the hazards. The snow and rain breaks down the integrity of our roads. Couple the rain with wind, and we have felled trees & limbs. Our beautiful home becomes a treacherous path to travel, and it’s incumbent upon the County to provide safe and reliable public facilities in a proactive and responsible manner. This may come in the form of improved maintenance plans, modern equipment, operations accountability through reporting to the public, and appropriate staffing and/or contracting for high quality services.

Safety & Environment.

Our rich wonderland that makes up El Dorado County is chockfull of such a beautiful landscape of trees, rivers, and wildlife. Those same elements bring problems with them too. Our recent power safety shut-offs have gone beyond inconveniences for many of us, and we definitely want to ensure there are no wildfires. Leveraging for enhanced wildfire prevention while also leveraging for responsible electricity provision is very important. On the western end of District 2 I’m actively pursuing options for alternative power provision. I’ve been meeting with SMUD and CCA experts to explore those options. A SMUD solution for the farther reaches of District 2 aren’t an option just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t leverage for a safer and more reliable power infrastructure and energy provision. I plan to leverage for a continuation of insurance provisions so that we are not dropped by our insurance carriers. As a final point for general safety, we need to support our local law enforcement and fire safety operations’ missions to provide their amazing services. They need the community’s support and the support of policymakers to ensure we’re all receiving exceptional services through their mission’s.

Respecting and appreciating the values within the rural aspects and areas of our community(ies) is important.

Having open spaces and strong agricultural business are so important; and this County must continue to recognize the tremendous value which comes with it. When seeking a place to call home and raise my kids, I sought out the rural places. For a short time, I lived in Outingdale, and now I’ve been off of lower Sly Park Road for more than five years. While I don’t have a lot of acreage, I’ve got enough space to feel comfortable, and I can enjoy the natural wonders we have here in the rural areas of the County. As a kid and young adult, I worked in row crops like cotton; table grape vineyards; and walnuts. I was an FFA Greenhand, and raised and showed lamb – and I did quite well by placing third overall in quality, and second in showmanship. You learn a lot when you work in the hellacious summer heat of the lower Central Valley; when you are pruning and tying vines in the wet & cold of winter; and when you can’t take a single day off from tending to your crop/livestock, or you’ll lose it all. What do you learn? You definitely learn that it takes work ethic, and that it is very challenging work to perform. You also learn to respect those that do this work, and to respect  what it takes to provide the fruits of those labors for end consumers. The way of life in our rural areas, and our pursuits for quality open spaces must be supported and preserved.

Commerce and encouraging business growth is important as well.

A “Whole” community in which you can raise your family and retire within requires many things, including good schools, quality homes and property, places to relax and play, and a place to work. As an anecdote, I’ve heard from business owners that their experience(s) in working with the County for permits is less than positive, and that the requirements to be met – on various levels – are not necessarily applicable for their unique situations. This is where the rigidity of government needs an overhaul. The culture and comments of “this is what the rule says” or “this is how we’ve always done it” needs to stop. Many of our neighbors are business owners and we benefit from their entrepreneurial endeavors too. There is no silver bullet fix to make local business and commerce better, however, as your District 2 Supervisor I’ve a mission to pursue enhancements in this area. Let’s support and incentivize our local businesses, shopping areas, home-based operations, and business parks in meaningful ways. Let’s apply smart and deliberate planning to this so that we all get the most and best benefits. The value of keeping your dollars and taxes local are only one benefit; the relationships built within our community are so much more valuable when we work together, side-by-side, toward common goals. In all of my various leadership roles I’ve taken a lesson from our Chamber’s of Commerce and pursued a “keep it local” approach in purchasing and contracting as much as possible because there is value in supporting our local economy and fellow business owners.