By Brandon HENSLEY and Jason KUROSU
This past week saw changes and challenges for the Crescenta Valley Town Council and CV Water District.
On Tuesday, in a neck and neck two-man race between current water board member Ken Putnam and former CVWD director Charles Beatty, Putnam emerged victorious, winning by 46 votes [526 votes for Putnam to 480 votes for Beatty.]
Putnam brings years of experience as a licensed civil engineer to the table, along with his time with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works and of course, the Crescenta Valley Water District Board. When asked, Putnam felt that it was his experience that gained him the seat.
“Yes, I think the voters were looking for someone with that kind of background. The water board is not about politics. It’s about serving the community and making improvements to the water system.”
When asked about the biggest issue he’d be facing, Putnam cited the proposed water rate increase, a common topic at recent water district board meetings. CVWD customers face a rate increase of either 5% or 8%, depending on whether the water district decides to go with a “pay-as-you-go” option or a $10 million bond.
“One way or the other,” Putnam said. “We’re going to continue making improvements to the water system.”
Putnam thanked the voters for their support.
“It’s a very good feeling [being elected]. My opponent is very well known in the community and I am not so much even though I’ve lived here for a long time.
“For the voters to choose me gives me a very good feeling.”
A busy Saturday in the Crescenta Valley yielded no surprises in the CV Town Council election, perhaps only slight disappointment in voter turnout.
Danette Erickson led the field of six candidates as she garnered the most votes, followed by former vice president Frank Beyt and current member Charles Beatty. Those three will make up the regular members of the council and will serve three-year terms.
The three alternates elected were current members Odalis Suarez, Robert Thomas and newcomer Mike Claessens. Claessens is a former attorney for the city of L.A. and was defeated in last year’s election.
“It’s nice to know I still have friends that come out and support in times of elections,” said Erickson, who was been a councilmember since 1995. “There’s just more to be done and I always want to do more.”
“I’m sort of a born volunteer,” said Beatty of his recurring role on the council. He feels that the community is overall satisfied with the council’s performance, which may be why there were fewer candidates this time around.
Ballots were cast at the La Crescenta Library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Council President Cheryl Davis said 157 ballots were cast, and the total turnout was 151, which was lower than what the council had expected. Davis cited the many activities going on that day, including the CV Arts Council’s Paint Out event and the CV High homecoming dance.
“I think that voter turnout was low … because of all of the activities going on today, but also because people knew that all six council members were going to get elected or be on council,” Davis said.
There were 10 candidates last year vying for six positions. This year, six candidates were jockeying for position – either as an alternate or full voting member – for the six open seats.
Claessens at least provides a new voice this year, and Davis and Erickson are glad to have him as an alternate.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him. He has a lot of experience working with government entities,” said Davis.
“I love Mike Claessens. I think it’ll be wonderful [to work with him],” agreed Erickson.
Each member will be sworn in during the Dec. 15 council meeting, and officer nominations and elections will be held at that time as well.