New Santa Cruz fire chief Rob Oatey
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Police and fire chief Q&As and Measure D op-eds

Top of the morning to you, Santa Cruz County! It’s Thursday, May 5, and the marine layer will be around much of the day, with temps in the 60s and 70s as the sun peeks out later on.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen and heard plenty about Measure D, set to come before voters next month. Today, our Community Voices opinion section is giving each side a chance to state its case, with a Yes on D op-ed and a No on D op-ed.

We’ve also got double-barreled Q&As for you today, featuring Santa Cruz’s new chiefs: Hillary Ojeda sat down with new police chief Bernie Escalante, and Grace Stetson talked to new fire chief Rob Oatey.

This way to today’s headlines ...

Bernie Escalante takes on staffing woes, COVID impacts and mental wellness

New Santa Cruz police chief Bernie Escalante
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

After serving as interim chief following the resignation of former chief Andy Mills in October, Bernie Escalante moves into his role as Santa Cruz’s new police chief with goals to build staffing and trusting relationships with the community. Several days after his official appointment, he spoke with Lookout about his vision and the department’s challenges. Read what he told Hillary Ojeda.

FROM OCTOBER: Andy Mills saying farewell to the ‘jewel’ that is Santa Cruz: ‘This is just an amazing city’

People call the fire department for everything

New Santa Cruz fire chief Rob Oatey
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Climate change. Drought. More public needs of every kind. We asked new city of Santa Cruz fire chief Rob Oatey what motivates him, and challenges him, in his new role. Here’s his full Q&A with Grace Stetson.

ANOTHER NEW LOCAL CHIEF: Big job at a tough time: Cal Fire’s new leader talks about the challenges of wildfire defense (Lookout)

Opinion: Vote Yes on Measure D

A rendering of the proposed pedestrian/bike trail along the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line
(Via Santa Cruz County Greenway)

A trail-only option is the best, most realistic option for our Santa Cruz community. It will preserve our natural landscape, can be built now and doesn’t depend on imagined future funding. Measure D makes sense and is the logical way forward. Read the full Community Voices op-ed from Greenway backers.

SANTA CRUZ’S NEW OPINION FORUM: Explore our Community Voices section

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Opinion: Vote No on Measure D

A light rail train on a segment of track in Watsonville
(Via Friends of the Rail & Trail)

Measure D will hurt our community by permanently ending the rail + trail plan connecting Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Measure D undermines decades of public planning and hurts commuters, the environment and our future economy. That’s why numerous elected officials and more than 30 local organizations oppose Measure D. It deserves a no vote. Read the full Community Voices op-ed from Mark Mesiti-Miller.

ELECTION 2022: Get all of Lookout’s local and state politics coverage in one place


Newsom seizes on the fight over abortion as a key part of his reelection campaign

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a Los Angeles High School
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The threat to Roe v. Wade enables Gov. Gavin Newsom to pivot to a familiar campaign strategy: focusing on what’s perceived as a conservative threat. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times report.

FROM TUESDAY: Santa Cruzans react quickly to threat of Roe v. Wade overturning (Lookout)

One way around California’s water restrictions: Recycle water from your laundry

A washing machine
(Via Pixabay)

The water that cleans your clothes isn’t safe to drink, but it could be good for your plants. The Times lays out how to use grey water amid drought restrictions.

MORE: With water running out, California sees no relief from drought thanks to La Niña (Los Angeles Times)


Around the county ...

Santa Cruz County records 261st COVID death (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Cabrillo Watsonville Center celebrates second edition of literary arts journal (The Pajaronian)
Legal sports betting in California just got more complicated (SFGate)

That ought to keep even the most voracious readers among you busy for a while — but be sure to save some bandwidth for Wallace Baine’s Weekender newsletter, hitting inboxes in mere hours. How do you get it? I’m glad you asked! Check out our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center to get weekly offerings from Wallace, food and drink maven Lily Belli and more, plus breaking news alerts, delivered right to you. You can also keep tabs throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And there ain’t no party like a local journalism party because, at least at Lookout, the local journalism doesn’t stop. And you can be the life of the party by becoming a Lookout member, if you’re not already — our content isn’t possible without community support.

Have a swell Thursday!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz