Drew Phelps, a very young candidate for the 26th District Assembly seat, made a trip
through the Owens Valley Saturday, meeting with locals at the Pup Fish Café, the Jill Kinmont
Boothe School conference room in Bishop and ending up in Lone Pine before heading back to
He started his conversation at the Café with the one thing that unites both sides of the
District: issues with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates. HCCA was brought to the Owens
Valley to help fix Southern Inyo Hospital’s financial struggles. CEO Dr. Benny Benvezzi was
highly recommended by Assemblyman Devon Mathis, Phelps’ opponent in the campaign.
Neither Tulare Regional Medical Center nor SIH fared well under HCCA with the group’s
management contracts ending in lawsuits and questions of financial mismanagement.
Phelps was heavily involved with Citizens for Hospital Accountability in the effort to save
the medical center. “Devon could have helped,” he said. “We tried to reach out.” But that help
didn’t come. “That’s why I’m running,” he told the group at Pup Fish referencing campaign
contributions from HCCA to Mathis.
Much of Phelps background meshes with needs in Inyo County, According to his
campaign website, Phelps works in land use and project management for Granville Homes, a
company specializing in workforce and middle-class housing. He is supportive of mixed-use
zoning, similar to the effort by the City of Bishop, to meet housing needs.
His responses to questions seemed to bridge political parties. He’s for easing the
regulatory burden, looking at some leeway to comply with regulations to avoid lawsuits,
“growing the water pie” to meet the needs of diverse water interests as well as the
On growing small businesses, Phelps would look at tax incentives to existing businesses
to offer apprenticeships, opening up business expansion. He’s strong on vocational education starting as early as middle school and retraining programs to help the current workforce adjust
for automation in the future.
To ensure staffing at area health facilities, Phelps supports pathway programs in the
medical field to encourage local students to stay, or come back, to Inyo after graduation.
Like any wise Democrat running in the Central Valley and Inyo County, Phelps said his
focus was local and bi-partisan. “All voices should be heard,” he said, “including the most
Sierra Wave Media reached out to Devon Mathis for an interview and will post his response as it becomes available.