Water board shifts from slow growth

first_img “The votes will now be 4-1 and I will continue to stand up for existing ratepayers and stand up for conservation and accurate water reporting,” said Plambeck, also president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment. “I think it’s important to speak truth to power. I’m not going to stop speaking truth because I’m in the minority.” Dore, elected to a third term, believes voters have ruled on the issue. “It indicates that regardless of how you feel about development in the Santa Clarita Valley, the voters don’t think you should lie about the water supply in order to speed up or slow down development,” she said. “The voters don’t believe there is a huge conspiracy like our opponents. The district is being run well, and should remain stable.” For Joan Dunn, it wasn’t the message that failed – she and her husband were just outspent. The Dunns jointly had $7,500, of which $5,000 was their own money, according to campaign filings. “Money buys a lot of things,” Joan Dunn said. “When you’re outspent by so much money, how does an ordinary citizen – if they want to run for office, how can they? It does make it pretty sad for the democratic system.” “I don’t really blame the voters,” Ed Dunn said. “The only way we can get our word out is door to door. We may consider a permanent Web site for the public to get information. We’re not throwing in the towel.” Gutzeit raised more than $35,000 from a mix of local businesses, builders and political groups, according to filings. Atkins and Dore said they collected more than $25,000, though neither had submitted contribution reports to the county Registrar-Recorder’s Office for the Oct. 27 pre-election deadline. Lester filed only a short form because her campaign spending was less than $1,000. Atkins, Dore and Gutzeit blanketed voters with mailers, some attacking the Dunns as obstructing schools from being built, others portrayed them in bandit masks. Meantime, Gutzeit said she had $400 worth of signs vandalized. “When someone is concerned about accurate water supply and you spent money on a mailer saying they’re stopping schools, they’re going to lose,” Plambeck said. “Instead of trying to debate issues, we get a political spin on a particular aspect.” “I hope that the candidates who won will demonstrate more integrity than in what I saw in some of their campaign literature,” Lester said. “I hope they will do what’s right for the ratepayers.” Dore dismissed charges she and others owed anyone favors. “The developers – they didn’t cast the 3,600 votes,” Dore said. “The people who live in the valley cast those votes. To me, we have the people behind us.” Gutzeit, a moderate who has support from both environmentalists and business groups, said she makes decisions based on “what is best for the district, what is best for the customer, and just what makes sense based on the facts. … I don’t think anybody on the board should vote from a predetermined position.” Joan Dunn said she will remain involved in water issues. “We’ll be watching them real close,” she said. “Ed and I will plan on going to all the meetings to represent the public. … (The public) thinks there is oversight – they don’t know they’re the oversight.” Gutzeit welcomed more input. “The environmentalists should continue to come to the water district, and continue to participate and speak to the staff,” she said. Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “I’m looking forward to working with the other members of the Newhall County Water District,” said Atkins, naming his campaign partners and board member Randall Pfiester. “I’m looking forward to stepping in in December and making some good, sound decisions based on the facts.” He omitted board member Lynne Plambeck, who along with Joan Dunn, is critical of local water policy and has contested the accuracy of water supply estimates. These figures determine how much development the Santa Clarita Valley could support. It’s a reversal from 2003, when Gutzeit, then aligned with the newly elected Plambeck and Joan Dunn, formed a majority that sought to reform water reporting, a process believed to be skewed in favor of development. That trio in 2004 passed a resolution challenging the numbers in a regional water management plan, a move attacked by City Hall and local school districts that benefit from developer fees and infrastructure. But Gutzeit voted to rescind the resolution in April after an independent consultant determined there was enough water supply for 20 years if managed properly. Her departure, combined with Joan Dunn’s loss at the polls, leaves Plambeck the last firm voice of environmentalism and dissent on the water board. SANTA CLARITA – A trio of business-backed candidates – two of them incumbents – won the majority on the Newhall County Water District, completing the shift away from the slow-growth stance taken by the obscure but influential utility in recent years. Incumbents Maria Gutzeit and Barbara Dore, the two top vote-getters, retained their seats Tuesday on the five-member panel governing the public utility serving some 9,000 customers between Newhall and Castaic. “I’ve really enjoyed my time on the board, and wanted to keep doing it,” said Gutzeit, who won a full four-year term after she was elected to fill an abridged term in 2003. “I think in the last year, we’ve established a really good direction for the board. … We’ll probably just stick with that and hopefully it will run smoothly for the future.” Challenger B.J. Atkins, who campaigned with Gutzeit and Dore, unseated incumbent Joan Dunn to capture the third seat. She finished fourth – 1,477 votes behind Atkins. Former board member Ed Dunn, who is married to Joan Dunn, and public relations consultant Trish Lester trailed. The winners with take office Dec. 15. last_img read more