While one appointed incumbent looks to hold onto her seat on the San Lorenzo Valley Water District board of directors, the retirement of a longtime board member has left another opening for a field that also featured three challenging candidates.
Incumbent Margaret Bruce was appointed to the board in July after when Jim Nelson stepped down from the post.
Bruce, an 18-year valley resident, is an environmental consultant who previously served as a member of the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board and with Sustainable Silicon Valley.
She said her central goal is to maintain SLV’s safe, reliable water supply and system.
“We have all the water we use,” Bruce said. “That is unique.”
Bruce’s approach is to continue to implement parts of the district’s strategic plan to ensure the technical and financial stability of the district for the long term.
She also sees the SLV Water District as a leader in efficiency and financing, and she wants to continue the district’s education grant program and other interactions with the community.
Bruce is in favor a regional intertie that would link six water districts in the county in the case of emergency because of the opportunity to pay about “50 cents on the dollar” if a recent Proposition 50 grant application returns money from the state.
“It’s not because we want to share water for convenience — it’s for emergencies,” she said.
Bruce will host gatherings along with Randall Brown on Oct. 19, Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 in Felton.
For information: http://electmargaretslvwd.homestead.com/
Stephen Swan, a Ben Lomond resident for more than 30 years, would be a newcomer to public office. A program manager at Cisco, Swan sees the water district as another utility — a necessity to stay alive.
Swan said his central focus is to ensure the quality of water and service in the district, both of which he calls excellent.
Swan said he’s concerned that board members have been appointed rather than elected over the past few years, something that he said leads to a lack of diversity and critical thinking on the board. He feels he could bring something new to the organization.
“I am qualified to evaluate programs and initiatives and be able to influence them,” Swan said.
Swan is against raising rates during the difficult economic times and said he feels an intertie, if built, would need to be managed prudently so that water was not taken from the valley.
Swan, who said he is learning about the district by studying its policy and public documents, hopes to evaluate the programs and projects in the district and provide strategic and practical input.
Randall Brown is a Boulder Creek-based historian who, last year, completed a history of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. He became interested in running for the board after completing his research, because he felt he could bring to bear his knowledge of the controversies and issues the district has faced in the past.
“The water district gave us a mechanism for preserving the valley,” said Brown, who has lived in the area for 12 years.
Brown favors a regional intertie if the funding from Proposition 50 comes through, and thinks rates should remain the same. He also hopes to preserve as much as possible of the district’s reserve fund —nearly $9 million, while would be reduced by about half after an intertie is built — in the event of an emergency.
Brown has a financial background, too. He worked on Wall Street looking for ways to limit losses for companies, and said he would apply this experience to how the district invests its reserves.
Brown also believes strongly in public outreach, including continuing the district’s education grants and perhaps reaching out to local schools.
“(Being a board member) is a steward job,” he said. “We need to keep things going effectively — the less disruption, the better.”
A sales support supervisor, Boulder Creek resident Craig Austin has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1994.
Austin learned of the district’s reserve of nearly $9 million about the same time the district asked for a rate increase, and decided to run for the board.
Austin calls himself a problem solver who builds strong relationships.
He is unsure if an intertie project is a good idea because of the possibility of water leaving the San Lorenzo Valley, but said he’d like to study it more before making a final verdict. He also wants to learn more about the district’s reserve and why water rates are increased with such a reserve in place.
Editor’s note: Despite several phone calls and an email over a two-week period, the Press-Banner was unable to contact Mr. Austin for an interview. Information here is taken from a recent candidate forum and his candidate statement filed with the Santa Cruz County election department.
Candidate Forum Broadcast
A candidates forum including the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and 5th District Supervisor candidates will play on Community Television this weekend. The forum will play on Comcast 25/Charter 71 on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m., Oct. 19 at 9 a.m., Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. It will also stream at www.communitytv.org.