Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

Town Hall: Frost discusses homelessness, schools, COVID relief, defunding police

Sentinel staff report–
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost on Monday held her first live-streamed town hall of the year on Facebook, answering questions from constituents ranging from COVID-19 relief, reopening schools and businesses, homelessness, and crime.

By Friday, the town hall broadcast had been viewed over 7,000 times and had drawn nearly 300 comments.

In opening remarks, Frost said around $182 million was allocated to Sacramento County from CARES Act funding last year and said followup funding of around $330 million is potentially coming to the county, pending relief legislation being approved at the federal level.

Frost also said “there’s a chance” the county will enter the less-restrictive “Red Tier” within the next week, but indicated there would be a two-week delay before more reopenings could occur.

A summary of the supervisor’s answers to various questions from constituents are included below:

Frost said programs like hotel vouchers and other programs are in place, or are being developed to address homelessness, and said the county is “doing everything we possibly can to create more opportunities for shelter and permanent housing.” She said the county is also working with local Homeless Assistance Resource Teams (HART) to help offer winter shelter, but said “the problem always comes down to money and resources.” Several commenters on Facebook criticized her for not doing more to address homelessness.

Reopening schools
Frost called school closures “devastating” to students, in response to a question about whether she was working with unions to address challenges faced by students during school shutdowns. Although expressing support for reopening schools and youth sports, she said the decision is outside of her purview on the County Board of Supervisors and instead encouraged parents to talk to school districts and state officials.

School choice
Asked whether she would support a “school choice” measure, Frost said: “If our school system can’t provide the education we need, we should have a choice to take our children somewhere else.” The term school choice typically refers to families being given the option to enroll their children in public school alternatives and receive funding vouchers to assist with tuition.

Addressing another question about schools and vaccines, Frost said school reopenings are not tied to vaccinations for teachers, noting that schools largely can’t reopen while the county remains in the most-restrictive “Purple Tier.” She said the county is getting closer to entering the “Red Tier,” when all schools are allowed to reopen under the state’s blueprint for reopening. Frost also said anyone wanting a vaccine should be able to get one, but said the county is not the “central receiving agent” for vaccines in the county. She said the county is one of many agencies and providers who have received a limited number of vaccines for distribution.

Reopening businesses
In a brief response to a question about why California is more restrictive than other states, Frost said areas of the country that shut down earlier and longer have suffered more “devastating damage” than other states. She said: “I do know we need to reopen California. We need to do it as safely as we can and as quickly as we can. And that is something I am advocating for.” Frost also said in response to another question that she opposed efforts to fine businesses for not complying with COVID-19 requirements, advocating instead for a focus on educating businesses.

Tier models
Frost continued her criticism of the state’s categorization of “tier” classifications by county, arguing in favor of a more targeted, zip code-based model.

Side shows
Frost answered a question about street racing, focusing her attention on “side shows” that have occurred around the county where large numbers of vehicles have taken over parking lots, with cars sometimes spinning out and engaging in reckless driving. Frost said she’s hopeful for more funding and cooperation with the California Highway Patrol in providing helicopter assistance, “because if not, somebody’s going to get killed one of these days.”

Defunding police
Asked about efforts to defund law enforcement, Frost said the “defund police” phrase can mean different things to different people. Citing closures of mental health institutions in past decades, Frost said police are now expected to handle situations that may be better addressed by other professionals and said she is supportive of looking at ways to “create or shift resources” to help address “gaps in our mental health system.”

Police presence
Responding to a question about increasing police presence to reduce theft and vandalism, Frost said “right now our police services should be prioritized and we should have as many boots on the ground as we can.” She said if a proposal to do so were to come before her, she “would vote yes.”

Mental health
Responding to a comment advocating for more mental health funding, Frost expressed support for prioritizing mental health and said the county is working on implementing a “pilot program” to have social workers assist law enforcement on certain calls. She also cautioned about potential risks, noting a domestic violence incident while she was serving as mayor in Citrus Heights where a man came out of an apartment and fired shots at police.

Frost formerly served a four-year term on the Citrus Heights City Council before being elected to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisor’s in 2016. She became chair of the board earlier this year, after being reelected in 2020.

To watch Supervisor Frost’s full one-hour town hall meeting, click here.

Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)