The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency was created by the vote of the people to secure water from outside the region for the benefit of the citizens who live in the Yucaipa thru Cabazon area. At present this represents a population of approximately 100,000 lives.
The largest ongoing challenge the Pass Agency Directors face is to secure water contracts in a timely and cost effective manner to meet the ever changing needs of the citizens in the area. The price of water contracts purchased are influenced by multiple factors such as drought, state water agencies, environmental agencies, and supply and demand. Unfortunately, all are expensive and are ultimately purchased by us, the customer, via our local retail water department or district.
This challenge is offset in part by effective communication between the General Managers of the retail water districts and the Pass Agency. During my term in office I have been a strong advocate of the need for the managers to meet frequently and am happy to report that monthly meetings are now being held to understand the current, timely water needs of the various retail agencies we serve. Understanding current demands helps the Pass Agency Board be more selective in the purchase of water contracts available at the time needed and thus helps control cost.
The Pass Agency has the authority to place a tax on the property of home owners under its jurisdiction to repay our portion of the construction costs to bring water to this area. I am aware that it is the publics money I am dealing with and am happy to report that in the last four years we have not increased your tax rate and in fact this past tax year and the current tax year we were able to reduce the tax rate on the assessed value of your property.
I am the only board member of the Pass Agency that also has prior board experience on a retail water district. That experience is priceless as we are now in discussions with our retail water customers over a fair water delivery rate and capacity fee. To be replaced by one with no water board experience and who has yet to attend a regular board meeting of The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency is not in the best interest of you, the tax payer, in my opinion.
I vote for what is best for the people, and not me personally, and am keenly aware that it is your money that I have stewardship over. This is evidenced by an agenda item the board entertained earlier this year that could have doubled each directors take home pay per year. I felt this was not in the best interest of the people and lobbied hard against the proposal and am happy to report that it failed by a 4-3 vote thus saving the taxpayers over $90,000 per year.
I am a long term citizen and taxpayer of this area and have practiced Optometry in Beaumont since 1986. I do not accept any money for my campaigns which allow me to be free to vote for what is best for “we the people.” I have been involved with water for this area for the past 16 years of which you have allowed me to serve on the Pass Agency Board of Directors the past four years. Thank you for allowing me to serve this past term and I ask for your continued support by voting for me in the upcoming Nov. 6 election.
Why are you running for the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency?
My expertise in state-wide water issues are best suited to a state water contractor; combined with a passion to serve my region as best I can, this is a perfect fit. We need a known consensus builder to serve the diverse needs of the region.
What do you see as the biggest issues and challenges facing the water agency?
Regardless of how anyone feels about growth, it’s our reality. Failure to keep up with the demands for safe, affordable and reliable water to the region will seriously damage our economic development. The challenge is balancing development, rates and consistency between all the stakeholders. In addition, the availability of water for firefighting, at adequate pressure and reliability, needs to be a constant focus of water agencies. I can’t think of an area where we are more vulnerable.
How do you plan to solve these issues?
Advocating for conservation techniques with all users is critical in two ways: Every drop saved is a drop that doesn’t need to be imported, and by being good stewards of the limited water we do have is the strongest argument we can make when we advocate for imported water. As a respected water advocate who understands the state water project and has spent a lifetime seeking consensus with our neighbors to the north, I can give the Pass area greater credibility and a known voice in the fight for imported water.