October 23, 2012 (Otay) -- Three candidates are running for Otay Water District’s seat 2. ECM sent questionnaires to all three candidates. Only the incumbent, Mitch Thompson, responded. Thompson was appointed to fill a vacancy and his answers are below. Other candidates are David Krogh, a business financial analyst, and Tracy Lopez, an immunization program manager.
WATER BOARD CANDIDATE QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES: MITCH THOMPSON
1. Motivation: What is your motivation for running?
I have always had a strong desire to volunteer my time to my community. I have served on many, many non-profit and public advisory and decision making boards throughout most of my adult life—including the MAAC Project, and South Bay Community Services Boards, Chula Vista General Plan Update Committee Chair, CV Planning Commission, CV City Council, Southwestern College Foundation Board, to name a few. I believe my public and private sector backgrounds enable me, as a Board member to oversee the water districts responsibilities and duties extremely well. I think I can do a great job of representing the voters and rate payers to ensure we have safe, reasonably priced water and sewer services in the Southbay.
2. Qualifications: What is your professional/career background, and how will it help you in the position for which you are running?
- 12 years of public sector, mostly at high level management positions with the County of San Diego and City of Chula Vista.
- 10 years of commercial lending background with a major US Bank with an extremely strong track record of sound lending.
- 10+Years as a small business person running my own successful business.
- 10+ Years of serving on a variety of Public Sector Governing and Advisory Boards.
All of this diverse experience uniquely qualifies me to perform as a governing board member of Otay Municipal Water District. I have the ability to make sounds decisions on behalf of the community and its members.
3. Leadership: Describe your view of what leadership as it applies to serving on your water board. To what degree should Board decisions be swayed by public opinion?
Ultimately, the public decides on who is best to serve in this position.The public is entrusting me with the responsibility to oversee the business affairs of the water district to the best of my ability. Public opinion is sometimes swayed by limited reporting of an issue that sometimes does not allow the public to fully understand all the details that go into making a decision. Leadership is about making the decision that each office holder believes is in the best interest of the public, the voters and the rate payers of the service. Leadership is about always transparency, listening to all sides on an issue and being able to explain clearly to all involved why I voted as I do. I have been and always will be prepared to do these things.
4. Challenges: What are the main challenges you believe your District faces?
The biggest issue is the limited control over the cost of our main product, water. The supply and affordability of adequate water has been and always be the two biggest issues. Being vigilant in those areas that we do have control over is critical. Recycling, Conservation, Expanding Local Sources, Advocacy of Fair and Equitable policies on a Regional/Statewide lever and Controlling our Local Costs are the five areas that I am always focusing on the most. These are the places we can make a difference in the supply and cost of water.
5. Vision: What’s your long term vision for meeting water needs in your District?
A. Continued pursuit of additional recycling of waste water..
B. Further incentives for conservation with the biggest area of untapped potential being reduced water landscaping.
C. Expand local supplies by continuing to pursue the prospect of the potential desalinization plant in Mexico.
6. Implementation: Has your District published a Strategic Plan to implement its goals and visions? Would you please expand on this, and any other ideas you have to implement your vision expressed in the previous question.
Otay Water District’s Strategic Planning efforts to date are second to none for public sector entities. I want to continue to build on that system as a tool for implementation. The key is always to identify measures that truly reflect where you want to go to realize your vision. Secondly, there must be strong periodic review and revision of those goals and measurement tools. We have those things in place at OWD and intend to continue to make the system work for the entity and all the constituents.
7. Rates: Do you believe all water users should pay the same rate, or that some users should subsidize others? Please explain. What is your view of your District’s rate structure?
No, I don’t believe all rate payers should pay the same. While saying that, I also believe that there always needs to be a sound rationale on where the rates are for various uses that is generally deemed to be “fair and equitable” to all. It is also understood that standards of “equity and fairness” sometimes are different for different people and entities. There are basic water needs that all must have and so some form of basic rate structure is needed—basic household needs should be at a lower rate than, say landscaping needs. Second, the rate structure must reward conservation. Thirdly, we need to ensure that the rate structure for our businesses does not put us at a disadvantage is competing for jobs. We have a high unemployment rate and we need to ensure that jobs do not go elsewhere due to much lower costs of water. That being said, we can’t have home owners subsidizing businesses either.
I believe Otay has done a pretty good job of maintaining equity and fairness in its rate structure.
8. Transparency: What have you done or will do to promote transparency in your district?
I have a long history of always pushing for transparency and openness and will always follow a course that maximizes transparency. I intend to always vote to follow the public meeting disclosure guidelines of the Brown Act even if the State has suspended its monitoring. When I was a member of the Chula Vista City Council, I always supported late afternoon early evening meeting schedules to ensure public participation. I intend to continue to strongly encourage the public to participate in all levels of government, local, state and federal. I intend to use our messaging with our billing to inform the public of what is going on at the water district. I have always had an open policy for access of the public with respect to my availability.