“I love this county and I love this community,” McPherson, 67, said. “I think I have the experience and the knowledge to serve the people of the 5th District and Santa Cruz County very well.”
McPherson, a fourth-generation Santa Cruz County native, is well-known as a politician, activist and as the former editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which his family owned for 118 years after his great-grandfather Duncan McPherson purchased a 50 percent stake in the publication in 1864.
While his family roots are steeped in journalism, politics has never been far behind. Duncan McPherson was instrumental in getting the area now known as Big Basin designated at California’s first state park, and Bruce’s father, Fred McPherson, made an unsuccessful bid for the Assembly in 1932.
Bruce McPherson’s political career began in 1993, when he was elected to the Assembly to take the seat of then-newly elected U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, where he served until 1996, when he was elected to the California Senate. He served in the Senate for eight years — during which time he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the position of lieutenant governor in 2002 — until term limits forced him to not seek re-election in 2004.
Finally, he was nominated for the secretary of state position in March 2005, to replace Kevin Shelley, who had resigned the office, and was voted in unanimously by both houses.
McPherson calls the current fiscal climate the largest shift in power since Proposition 13 passed in the late 1970s as prison systems, transportation and health and human services costs are being dramatically shifted to the county level.
McPherson said that his years of experience working in the state government make him uniquely qualified to work on the county level, particularly with already cash-strapped local agencies scrambling to take on more and more state-level problems.
“With all of this happening,” he said, “I just think that I could really be a benefit to the people of the 5th District and the county in implementing all of this.”
McPherson’s entry into the 5th District race makes him the sixth candidate for Mark Stone’s old seat on the board. Stone is seeking election to the Assembly in 2012.
Since handing over the reins of the secretary of state position in 2007, McPherson has kept busy serving on a number of local committees, including the Second Harvest Food Bank and as a key member of California Forward.
He said that the decision to run for supervisor came after his home in the Pasatiempo area became part of the 5th District after a controversial redistricting decision redrew the boundaries between the 1st and 5th districts.
“Somebody said to me, ‘You know, you’re in the 5th District now. You’re serving everywhere else, why don’t you serve as the county supervisor?’” McPherson said.
McPherson said that, as supervisor, his goal would be work with constituents and other local agencies to find ways to build cooperation.
“I just want to see that we are able to get our fair share — whether it be for roads, transportation. I think there’s some huge issues that need to be addressed about water,” he said.
McPherson said that his 26 years as a reporter and editor for the Sentinel, along with his time as a representative in Sacramento, has given him a connection with the largely rural district.
“I have a basis of familiarity with the San Lorenzo Valley, with Santa Cruz County in general,” he said. “I feel really comfortable knowing this county. I’ve lived in it; it’s my home.
“I’m not running against anybody,” he said of the race. “I’m running to serve the people of the 5th District.”
McPherson plans to run a local-based campaign and is planning sit-downs with community members to hear their concerns.
“When we do things in a cooperative manner, I think we can do them more efficiently and effectively,” he said.
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