January 10, 2021 – On the evening of January 9, 2001, I was sworn in as the Chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. This meeting was attended by a group of people announcing a petition campaign to strip me of my legally elected office. I recall someone wearing a chicken suit.

The next morning, Wednesday January 10, 2001, I was working at the Rood Center when I learned that shots had been heard in our County Mental Health Department. I was told (in fact, everyone in Nevada County was told) to shelter in place. As we later learned, a mentally ill man named Scott Thorpe came into the building (with one of the many guns from his large, personal arsenal), believing he was under the control of the FBI. There he killed 19-year-old Laura Wilcox and 86-year-old Pearlie Mae Feldman before driving over to the local Lyons Restaurant where he killed 24-year-old Mike Markle. Though I didn’t know it for most of that long day, Thorpe’s armed assault on our building was un-related to the threatening words and actions that had been fired at me the night before.

One week later, a mentally ill man going 75 miles an hour rammed the State Capitol, killing himself and creating huge damage to the building (though no one else was injured). He had a grudge with then-Governor Davis.

I went down to the Capitol one week after the truck exploded into the building. We had something important in common. I hoped that a mentally ill person driving himself to death into building where they worked would wake them up about the real costs of mental illness. The state responded in two ways: they awarded the County some funds to open a new mental health program and passed “Laura’s Law” to allow County’s more leeway in prescribing drugs for the mentally ill. Also, the lawmakers made themselves safer by hardening the Capitol building and making it very hard to drive a truck into it again.

Last Wednesday, we saw Trump loyalists seize the floor of our US Senate, sacking the Capitol. They objected to the decisions made by the majority of the people that voted in the Presidential election, by our state legislators, by our court system, and by our Congress in favor of their leader Trump. Two people died of the wounds caused during this insurrection. These terrorist actions were a threat to very heart of our country. Will this wake our leaders up about the danger posed by these heavily armed Trump loyalist shock troops? Will our leaders help calm the situation down? Or will they just harden their place of governance and leave locally elected officials to their own devices with these heavily armed Trump loyalists?

What did Doug LaMalfa do? He voted against the voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania and on the side of the people that attacked our nation’s Capitol. Tom McClintock voted with the majority against LaMalfa and his faction.

What will our locally elected officials do now that wild claims of fraud and violent destruction of governmental buildings and institutions have exploded into this outrageous act of terrorism? How will locally elected officials (such as Elections Clerks) be protected if the Proud Boys don’t like the way our next election goes?

Asking for a country.

Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin
Nevada County Supervisor 1999-2003