By Jason KUROSU
The Crescenta Valley Town Council will be undergoing changes after the Nov. 2 election, as returning members and new faces vie for six available town council seats (three seats for three year terms and three seats for alternates). Nine candidates are on the ballot along with four candidates for three seats on the Crescenta Valley Water District board. Members of the public were introduced to the candidates at the latest CV Town Council meeting, during which the council hosted a candidates’ forum.
Robbyn Battles, current council corresponding secretary, moderated the forum.
A common thread among the candidates’ personal statements was calling La Crescenta home, with many of the candidates’ families residing in the foothills for multiple generations. Cheryl Davis, Harry Leon, Dr. Young Suh and Leslie Dickson are on the ballot as incumbents.
Battles posed questions to the candidates such as “Why should I vote for you?” and “What local issues are most dear to you?”
“I’m very passionate about this city,” answered Leon, who cited his work on attaining a big rig overnight parking ban as an example of a local issue which he took to heart.
Current council president Cheryl Davis discussed her work on establishing the Crescenta Valley Dog Park while Dr. Suh spoke about how he has hopes to continue bringing the local Korean-American community into further discussion on local issues.
Krista Smiley served on the town council on two separate occasions, most recently from 2003 to 2008 during which she chaired several committees, including the election committee, Arbor Day Committee and seniors committee, among others.
Leslie Dickson described how she came to seek more involvement within the community.
“I realized [upon joining the council] that there were so many things that the greater community doesn’t know about and it became a goal of mine to share this information,” said Dickson.
Kyle Studebaker said, “I’ve always felt that it’s important to serve your community. I’ve also felt that if you have an opinion and you’re going to voice it, then you’re also going to have to put some action behind those opinions.”
Mariam Gabra Barnes spoke of her love for La Crescenta, how she moved back after college to find things had changed since her childhood days, such as an increase in youth drug abuse.
“I want to be involved,” said Barnes. “I want the opportunity to make sure that I’m a contributor, not just somebody who sits on the sidelines.”
Fellow candidate Kerri Lewin also moved away and came back to La Crescenta. “This is home,” Lewin said. “We want to maintain the way it feels and preserve the community for our children, for our grandchildren.”
A second forum took place for the Crescenta Valley Water District board. Incumbents Ken Putnam, James Bodnar and Kerry Erickson are running for CVWD board seats while Charles Beatty, who last ran for the CVWD board in 2011, makes another run in this year’s election.
Beatty and the other candidates spoke at length about high water rates, one of the more frequent topics of contention among CVWD customers. Beatty suggested the use of solar power as a means for lowering rates.
“I’m sick of these water and sewer rates going up and up when I believe they can be checked,” said Beatty.
His plan would involve having solar panels installed at CVWD facilities and funded by municipal bonds, which he believes would save the district and community overall on electricity – something that Beatty said was a large cost for the district.
The other three candidates, who currently sit on the water board, emphasized their experience on both the CV water board and other water agencies while addressing their candidacies, but also addressed Beatty’s solar ideas.
Putnam said the issue of solar power had come up previously among the board members, but would be more expensive than Beatty was suggesting, both in terms of the solar equipment and the bonds used to finance them.
“Although bonds sound great and help put the cost off for the future, you pay about two or three times the amount of money that you actually get out of the sale of the bonds in order to repay them,” Putnam said. “Yes, you can leave your children the bill but you’re going to pay the bill, too.”
He also said that the water district takes the public’s concerns with rates seriously, especially at its regular budget meetings.
“We really work on it, discussing how to hold rates to a bare minimum,” said Putnam, who also said the water district needed to “be efficient, have the rates as low as we can possibly hold them, and we’ve got to have a water and sewer system that will last for many, many years.”
Bodnar characterized his goals as “continued support for water conservation, improved system reliability during outages and emergencies and the implementation of a flow-based sewer rate to make it equitable for all our customers.”
Bodnar responded to Beatty’s claims by saying that electricity “is less than 10% of the costs of the district.”
“Solar panels on top of our storage tanks may provide some energy, but they’re not sufficient to provide the power needed to pump the water up the hill,” said Bodnar.
Erickson said the means for lowering rates would be to focus on conserving the district’s well water, thus relying less on water imported from the Metropolitan Water District which Erickson said was three times the cost of the district’s well water.
“Unless we are willing to rely on imported water to pay the ever-rising costs, we need to develop a sustainable system where we rely on local water.”
The CVTC election is on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a meet & greet with the CVTC candidates this Sunday at the Montrose Harvest Market in the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Honolulu Avenue. Absentee ballots are available and can be requested at www.thecvcouncil.com.
The CVWD ballots will be cast as part of the local and municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.