Editor’s note: Casey Mazzoni is set to speak on April 18 at the Impact Marin conference in San Rafael on how Rebuild Northbay Foundation is focusing on medium- to long-term recovery from the devastating October wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties.
The organization was founded just after the fires by Darius Anderson. He is also CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns North Bay Business Journal and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
You are the legislative director for Rebuild Northbay Foundation?
Yes. I am taking on the advocacy piece for our organization. We have three buckets — economic development, advocacy and coordination.
Is James Lee Witt, former FEMA director, still involved with the organization?
No. We have a new executive director, Jennifer Gray Thompson. She is running the show now.
You are lobbying in Sacramento?
We are working federally and statewide to support our local officials in whatever needs they have. We are working with Napa, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Yesterday we met with Supervisor Belia Ramos from Napa. She told us about some tweaks, policy-wise, that we could help with to make sure this is a successful rebuild effort.
It has been five months since the fires. Are we in a good place or behind where we should be?
We are doing well reaching out to the right people, listening, reading reports. Our elected officials haven’t been through a disaster. We have a lot of bright minds and energy, great leaders in the area. There’s a learning curve.
Is there legislation pending that is specifically connected to fire recovery?
Yes. We’re tracking quite a few bills introduced at the state level.
In order to do what? What are their objectives?
From emergency response to insurance. At this point we are just tracking them. At some point we might work with legislators on our own policy initiatives.
The goal is to get money for better alert systems?
Our response systems can always be improved. There have been hearings, one in Santa Rosa, about ways we can improve on our response times. Our organization is post-disaster, six months to 10 years, what may come up in the future.
Marin sees that it has significant areas of the county that are vulnerable to wildfire, especially where there are interspersed homes and wildland?
Yes. Novato has done a lot of work around making sure that homes near open space are prepared.
Is Novato better prepared than wooded communities such as Larkspur and parts of Mill Valley?
Marin, being so close to (the October fires), was impacted. Kids didn’t go to school. Marin should be learning some lessons preparing for that next disaster.
Your company, Mazzoni & Associates, is in San Rafael?
Yes. It’s my mom (Kerry Mazzoni and me). My mom was a past legislator (represented Marin and Sonoma in California Assembly). Now she’s a lobbyist, semi-retired. We do public affairs.
How long have you been legislative director for the foundation?
Since November. As things change, we can change and evolve.
Impact Marin conference
Wednesday, April 18, 7:30–10 a.m.
Location: Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael Marin County, 101 McInnis Parkway, San Rafael, CA 94903
Cost: $70 per person or $715 for a table of 10
Preregister through April 16: nbbj.news/im18
Information: Annette Wirick, 707-521-5264