Meet the candidates: San Lorenzo Valley Water District
by Joe Shreve
Aug 28, 2014 | 2481 views | 33 33 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chuck Baughman
Chuck Baughman
slideshow
Karen Brown
Karen Brown
slideshow
Bob Fultz
Bob Fultz
slideshow
Eric Hammer
Eric Hammer
slideshow
Larry Prather
Larry Prather
slideshow
Gene Ratcliffe
Gene Ratcliffe
slideshow
As part of the Press-Banner's election coverage, each candidate running for local office in the Nov. 4 election will be highlighted. This week's focus will be on the race for the board of directors for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District as — in addition to a severe drought — a scathing report in June from the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury criticized the district for what it described as a lack of transparency and financial oversight was followed by the dismissal of District Manager Jim Mueller two days later.

Now, as the election season gets underway, San Lorenzo Valley voters have six candidates to choose from to fill a trio of seats on the District’s board of directors.

Of those six candidates, only Larry Prather is a current board member.

Karen Brown

A 35-year resident of Boulder Creek, Karen Brown said that she is running on a platform of increasing the district’s transparency — particularly where finances are concerned.

“I’d like to see much clearer facts on the money that is spent and received — down to the postage stamps,” she said, citing instances of out-of-order or outright missing check numbers on the district’s financial records. “That’s a good check and balance to ensure that no one is fraudulently writing checks.”

Brown, a self-described “jane-of-all-trades” who for 20 years helped operate the Ramona Woods Water Association, said that if she is elected, she will approach the job with a mindset focused on construction to address the district’s infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is my main concern,” she said, adding that she would prioritize repairing and upgrading leaking tanks.

For more information about Karen Brown, visit http://votekarenbrownslvwater.com

Chuck Baughman

A retired electronics engineer, Boulder Creek resident Chuck Baughman said that his campaign will be based around the need to maintain the district’s environmental protection projects, while simultaneously addressing infrastructure and what he described as shortcomings in communication.

“The most pressing thing is neglected infrastructure,” he said.

Baughman said that he first became interested in joining the district in 2011, when he helped the district map out sensitive sand hills habitats after trespassers had damaged it — something he described as a positive experience. Since then, he said, he has done his best to be a regular at board meetings.

If elected, Baughman said, he would work with the community to improve communication about the district's needs and plans — something he said had likely helped derail last year's proposed rate increase, as well as contributed to the negative grand jury report.

“I want to be sure that the water district is never again in a place to need to respond to a report like that,” Baughman said.

For more information about Chuck Baughman, visit http://chuck4slvwd.com

Bob Fultz

A Boulder Creek resident since 1988, Bob Fultz's name has appeared on community ballots since 1998, when he first ran for a seat on the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District's Board of Trustees.

He said that, while he served on the SLVUSD board in 2002, he played a key role in helping the district, then in a time of declining budget and enrollment, make tough decisions to close campuses in order to get back on track.

Tough decisions, Fultz said, is something that a water board member will need to be able to face as well.

“In some ways, the water district is at a turning point as well,” he said. “We haven’t done a lot of modernization … there's a sense that new faces are needed.”

If elected to the board, Fultz said that his goal is to bring “an analytical influence” to the board in order to address what he described as “aging infrastructure,” as well as to strive toward creating a more open and transparent system of keeping the public informed as to the district's projects, financials, and goals.

“People really want to know more than what is currently published (on the SLVWD website),” he said, referring specifically to the mostly scanned documents that made independent record-keeping more difficult. “It’s a debate over the future of our district … I think you should be going above and beyond what the minimum required by law.”

For more information about Bob Fultz, visit http://bobfultz.com

Larry Prather, Eric Hammer, and Gene Ratcliffe

The remaining three candidates have taken an unusual approach toward campaigning — running as a slate.

That means that Larry Prather, Eric Hammer, and Gene Ratcliffe will run a joint campaign, selling themselves to voters as a package deal that they claim combines the experience of the incumbent Prather with Hammer's knowledge of the community and Ratcliffe's years of experience working in water policy.

As the only incumbent in the race, Larry Prather — a member of the district's board since 1998 — said that he is running for another term in the hopes of completing the enactment of the district's watershed management plan, which is a long-term plan intended to give the district guidance as to how to manage water to suit the diverse land areas of the San Lorenzo Valley.

“I launched into this with the intent of finishing it and it's my intent to do so,” Prather said. “Six years so far — two more years till it's finished.”

For his part, Hammer said that environmental protection was his primary reason for entering the race.

“I'm running because our water and our environment are extremely important to the community we live in,” he said. “Ive got a really good understanding of what a unique situation we have, having our own watershed and the San Lorenzo River ... I want to keep it that way.”

As a board member, Hammer said that he would work toward the completion of the long-delayed acquisition of the Lompico Water District, as well as work with to community to address the needs and concerns of the district – particularly in regard to the district's infrastucture.

“I think its important to have someone who has credibility in the community,” he said. “Including the community in the decision-making process … I feel like I have a strong record of that.”

A relative newcomer to the San Lorenzo Valley, Gene Ratcliffe – a former planning commissioner in Southern California before moving to the area – said she has served in various roles with water districts for many years.

“I work in the field of water conservation and environmental horticulture,” the Felton resident said.

Ratcliffe said she was inspired to enter the race after working with the district's advisory committee for the past several months.

“It seemed like a great opportunity,” she said.

If elected, Ratcliffe said, she would work to find “long-term solutions to the periodic water shortages” and to improve relations between the district and its customers.

“I really want to make it public participation,” she said, “to get the community in general more involved and more comfortable with the operations of the water district.”

Of her decision to partner with Prather and Hammer, Ratcliffe said that their familiarity with the community and the historic issues would be augmented by her knowledge of water systems.

“We’re all after the same goal,” she said. “I’m a relative newcomer and I don’t know a lot of people, but I do have a lot of personal experience with water.”

For more information about Larry Prather, Eric Hammer, and Gene Ratcliffe, visit www.hammerpratherratcliffe4water.com.

Comments
(33)
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The SLV Watchdogs
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August 31, 2014
The SLV Watchdogs will be hosting a Candidates Forum on Thursday, Oct 9th, from 7pm to 9pm at Park Hall in Ben Lomond.

All six Board of Directors candidates will be joining event moderator Rosie Chalmers, the host of Good Morning Monterey Bay on KSCO AM 1080, and the community for this evening of getting to know the issues, candidate platforms and proposed solutions.

Connect with The Watchdogs at: https://www.facebook.com/slvwd.co

and

http://www.slvwd.co/dp/article/invitation-participate
um......
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September 02, 2014
People here never change. Always distrustful. The noisy few seem to think people actually care what they say? Its so easy to spew nonsense and lies when you don't have to identify yourself.

All three of you Hammer naysayers, can you come up with some better material? How about you actually put you money where your mouths are? We don't see you running for office. You complain and yet you do NOTHING in contrast. When people actually stand up to make a difference in this community you whine and complain. You couldn't possibly actually go out and check the facts, could you?

Hammer is an excellent choice for this job. He was on the board that straightened out the BCRPD, has experience with this type of things and will make a positive difference for this board. That is what this district needs!

As for the rest of you district whiners, check your facts. Fixing some of the districts problems is not as simple as you make it sound.

Grow up.
Kyle Potter
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September 03, 2014
How do you know the Hammer naysayers aren't doing anything about the mess of a water district?

What part is lies? What part is nonsense? What part do you think is not facts? Why do you think Hammer is competent?
nonymouse
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September 03, 2014
"People here never change. Always distrustful. The noisy few seem to think people actually care what they say? Its so easy to spew nonsense and lies when you don't have to identify yourself."

"We don't see you running for office. You complain and yet you do NOTHING"

"Fixing some of the districts problems is not as simple as you make it sound. Grow up."

um...... sounds like an anonymous board member who really doesn't think much of people here, defensive about not addressing the district's problems while passing the baton to Hammer.
um......
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September 04, 2014
Nice try. Only concerned citizens, not any board members here... We may not totally agree with the water district board but we are much more confident in people who we know and can act with integrity, unlike some of the people who post here with flamethrowers and no fear of retribution.

These so called Naysayers all they do is parrot the little issues and try to defame Hammer with nonsense and have little information of all the good things this man and his family have done for this valley. Pathetic really. That it's more important to defame the character of someone that to stick to the facts.

FACTS about Hammer: Helped turn the BCRPD around from a joke of the valley into a very good part of the BC community; has supported several local groups (such as VWC and BCBA) in their quest to improve the quality of life in our area; volunteers countless hours in the community. These are just a few of the many good things this man has done in our valley while having to endure the constant mud slinging BS.
um hum
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September 07, 2014
"Nice try. Only concerned citizens, not any board members here..."

When my kid was smoking behind the garage I only said, "I smell smoke." My kid says, "No you don't!" So who's fooling whom? Only a board member would say, "not any board members here."

Eric Hammer is your flunkie. Grow up.

BL Lady
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August 31, 2014
Prather makes his own rules. ($12M Campus vs. SLVWD Watershed Protection Plan)

Hammer doesn’t understand them. (College Degree Disclosure)

Ratcliffe breaks them. (2013 Violation of State Disclosure Act)

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/enf_letter/09-09-13/ENF045.PDF

The good thing is they’re all on one team. Easier to keep an eye on them that way. Easier to get rid of them all at one time.

Tanisha I
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August 30, 2014
It truly is time for a new board at the water district. The folks running the show have run the district into the ground as witnessed by the Grand Jury report and long time conventional wisdom.

Hammer is unschooled in issues pertaining to the running of a water district. Ratcliffe is new to the area. Prather has shown that he lacks the energy (25% of meetings missed?) and the knowledge to continue.

I don't know much about Karen Brown. But I do see that Charles Baughman and Bob Fultz are both highly educated men with experience in environmental issues, running complex organizations, and just being open to the concerns of the ratepayers.

It is my sincere hope that we see significant change on the water board.
wow!!!!
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September 02, 2014
Hammer doesn't have experience? Look what the man did working with a board in turning the BCRPD around! They guy can make it happen. You clearly are biased for some strange reason.

Go ahead and elect Boughman and Fultz and we shall see how many more years it takes to get something done just because they "appear" to be concerned, because they "care" about environmental issues. What do you think is keeping the board from fixing those old leaky tanks? Environmental issues! Yeah, that's why we need more of that on the board! ugh lady, study up on the candidates, will ya?
watching since 1998
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August 29, 2014
Larry Prather says about one of his two pet projects, the Watershed Protection Plan: “I launched into this with the intent of finishing it and it's my intent to do so,” Prather said. “Six years so far — two more years till it's finished.”

Part I was finished before he started his 1998 term on the Board. FIFTEEN YEARS he has been working on Finishing part II and part III. NOW, he wants TWO MORE years to finish it. TEN years ago he said he needed two more yearto finish it. The Watershed is getting paved by Larry Campus project while it wait for protection. Now THAT is effective leadership (or is it?). Can you dig it, voters???

Ben Lomond Bob
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August 29, 2014
The VWC slate of three launched their campaign, and their website is still under construction? Is this an indicator of their abilities to run our district?

What a joke!
SLVWD advocate
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August 29, 2014
Bob, Why should the new boss disclose anything more than the old boss? Heh heh
If I had a Hammer...
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August 29, 2014
If I don't disclose it.... You can't critisize it. Pardon me, I did not finish college, despite what you were told.
building inspector
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August 29, 2014
You don't like that Hammer will take extra time and expense on constructing the website? You haven't seen anything in terms of budget and delays until he gets on SLVWD Board!
Bob's the joke
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September 02, 2014
What does the web site have to do with anything?
Wise guy
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September 04, 2014
You doubt the power of the Valley Women's mafia? Politicians get their blessing before winnng.
Colette Marie Farkas
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September 21, 2014
Unfortunately it's a sick joke! Just the same is fortunate the VWC's "slate" of three insiders are letting voters know which three candidates will support the status quo and continue to subsidize their friends instead of fixing the many problems the Grand Jury exposed.
Felton Rate Payer
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August 29, 2014
Wait…let me get this straight.

Prather wants to save the environment by paving over wetlands and putting in a gas station.

Hammer wants to focus on a project (Lompico Water) that SLVWD has no control over right now.

Ratcliffe is an area newcomer, but “has experience with water”. (I have experience with air, but that doesn’t make be a pilot)

Is this the best that the Valley Women’s Club can put up? What's up with that?

VWC advocate
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August 29, 2014
You question my power? is my magic wand you don't like?
SCPetersen
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August 29, 2014
Voters and Ratepayers should weigh these candidate's statements against the editor's perspective summary. Who among them addressed, even obliquely, the recent "scathing" Grand Jury Report? Baughman and Fulz. Prather, in particular, was a principal contributor to the very problems investigated. In his application to the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party, he said that "addressing public perception" would be his top priority. He quoted the Report as asking the following questions:



1. "Are the finances of the District managed appropriately?"

2. "Are the operations well managed?"

3. "Did the Board violate the Brown Act?

4. "Are the operations of the District transparent to the public?

"At a high-level", Prather said, "the short answers are yes, yes, no, yes respectively." Number 3 is a legal issue, but 1, 2 and 4 are not. Certainly his track record on environmental issues is noteworthy and we all applaud that, but glaring omissions in other significant areas of responsibility are not simply going to disappear. At the last Board meeting he took a hard line stance on these points by endorsing a draft of the Board's response to the Grand Jury - a response that was sent back to committee for revision to soften the report's tone and language because Randall Brown and the public objected. The present board is tone deaf to issues of public transparency and trust. The only exception is Randall Brown.

And let us not forget that the $12 million dollar campus project was personally championed by Prather. Indeed, at the Nov 24 Special Board meeting, in the face of 2800 protests, he said that he had given over "...ten years my life to this project and I'm not going to let it go down the drain." This project is not dead, nor is the certain spectre of unpleasant rate increases on the horizon.

Prather is not indispensable; we have other candidates with significant environmental experience that could and should replace him.

Stephen Petersen

San Lorenzo Valley Watchdogs
Dan Givson
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August 29, 2014
Well stated. I agree.
Sierra club fan
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August 29, 2014
You give Prather credit only he would give himself. Pushing hard to have a negative declaration on the environmental impact of the Campus and pushing extra hard to pave a parking lot on the wetlands under the Campus certainly negates the smoke and mirrors reputation. The 'SLVWD Watershed Protection Plan' went, mostly under Prather's direction WITHOUT any process or procedure to protect wetlands for over 10 years and up until now. Hence, when Prather authorized the planned paving of wetlands, SLVWD Campus, he was not violating his own SLVWD Watershed Protection Plan. THAT is environmental protection? Peel away the rhetoric and look at Prather's actions. He is on the right side of issues and the wrong side of decision making and action on the SLVWD Board of Directors.
no way....
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September 02, 2014
Stop trying to make sense for these people, fan. There is no working with the skewed logic of some of these people.

I don't see Mr. Peterson running for the board.... Oh that's right its much easier to throw stones than it is to actually generate consensus and make things happen...
Highway 9'er
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August 29, 2014
Oh, and let's not forget how well Mr. Hammer included "the community in the decision-making process" when he wanted to build an over-sized and unfunded Rec Center in a residential neighborhood. No one that actually lived there learned about the plan until it was written about in the newspaper!
wow!!!!
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September 02, 2014
Here we go again with one of the Boulder St. whiners. You obviously don't know how a grant process works, and certainly didn't learn anything watching it happen as we did at the BCRPD... Those were people who actually created a plan and tried to do something that would have helped the town. That project would have given this town its only rec center, would have given the BCFD room to expand. oh wait, NIMBY!!!
HighwayNiner
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September 03, 2014
That is a fine example of a straw man argument right there, Mr. or Ms. Wow!!!!
Honest government
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August 29, 2014
Prather did not mention the Taj Mahal campus??? That is his $12 million pet project. He has said in the SLVWD Board Meetings, "I've wasted 10 years of my life if my Campus is not built." Well, Larry, do you REALLY think the wetlands of that property needs to be paved over (while you brag about you environmental sensitivity)??? $1650 per rate payer to have a kitchen, gas station, paving wetlands and 1000 sq ft executive office for the Manager? Is the SLVWD and Valley citizens THAT generous??
Felton Rate Payer
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August 29, 2014
And let's not forget the $3M that Larry wasted on property purchases, permits and planning for his Riverside Fuel Depot. $3M wasted while the district's own 2010 CIP Report clearly identified leaking tanks and other neglected infrastructure.

“I launched into this with the intent of finishing it and it's my intent to do so,” Prather said. “Six years so far — two more years till it's finished.”

Ya' right. We know what Larry wants to finish. And now he has two slate partners to join in his efforts.

SLVWD activist
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August 29, 2014
Radcliff who? and What participation on what Committee? She has NOT attended more than one SLVWD Board Meeting and I've never seen her at the Committee meetings. I guess Hammer is using her to learn what he knows about the water district. Hammer hasn't been involved AT ALL before August 2014. It's more complicated than showing up at the last minute. karen and Chuck have been attending for years and they HAVE been participating. Prather has always been out to lunch, late, absent or drinking at the Scoppazzi's bar. Maybe his attendance would be better if ANNOUNCED Board meetings were held at the bar?
Highway 9'er
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August 28, 2014
Credibility in the community, you say Mr. Hammer? What, you think we all forgot about the college degree you lied about having earned? Pfft.
Oh Boy
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August 29, 2014
He'll fit right in.. though it may be a tight fit he is as transparent as Duct Tape.
Ellis Cooper
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August 29, 2014
Time for change. Out with the old and in with the new. Hammer and Prather are old guard. No more, too damaging to the district.

Baughman and Fultz - intelligent, rational, capable.
C'mon Man
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August 29, 2014
Eric.. please end this your doing fine on your own. Spend time with your family and kids. They need you, not US or the valley. Stop running for positions to get your name out there. If your truly a good business person then you will do just fine without the politics. Your last name does not need to be a so called legacy in this valley. We got it Mom formed something and you need to make her proud.


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