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September 17, 2008 > Local Election Coverage Week 2

Local Election Coverage Week 2

This week's election coverage is focused on the Alameda County Water District, Castro Valley Sanitary District and 20th Assembly District. In the Water and Sanitary districts, three seats are contested; and in the 20th Assembly, two candidates are vying for one seat. Each candidate, listed in alphabetical order, was asked to respond to several questions about their qualifications. Incumbents (Inc.) are noted.

Alameda County Water District (elect three):

James Gunther (Inc.)
Profession - In addition to serving in my third term as a Director with ACWD, I work with Amtrak as a Supervisor and have been in that position for the last ten years. Prior to working with Amtrak, I have worked with an Environmental Emergency Response company, and served as an Officer with the US Coast Guard for twelve years in an Engineering Specialty.
Reason for running - To help the board continue to lead the district in the right direction.
Biggest challenge - The main challenges I see for the district are future and present water supply.
Primary focus - I have always held that the most important issue is to provide a safe, reliable water supply at a fair price to our customers.
Qualifications - I have served now for three terms where we have been addressing our supply issues. I have a BS in Ocean Engineering from the US Coast Guard Academy, a Certificate in Hazardous Materials Management from the UC Berkeley Extension Program, and hold a Professional Engineering License in the State of Maryland. We have planned for and completed our Desalinization Plant in Newark, and are now in the design/construction phase for its planned upgrades. We entered into a Water Banking agreement several years ago with the Semi Tropic Water District to assist with our dry year storage. My engineering and environmental background has provided me the tools to give the policy guidance our District staffs needs.

Robert Irvin
Profession - Production Supervisor for Tesla Motors; previously worked at NUMMI for over 17 years; and also a classically trained chef, who does catering as side work.
Reason for running - I decided to run because the average family needs an advocate.
Biggest challenge - Working on the conservation and reclamation of the limited water supply.
Primary focus - I want to make sure that each household in our community is fairly represented, supported, and defended.
Qualifications - Both careers I work for depend heavily on water, and pay for that water. As a regular citizen, I want to see someone in the ACWD actually stand up for the consumer in this drought. It's too easy for an elected board to arbitrarily increase fees to the final users. I want to make sure that any fee increase is actually a "need" as opposed to a "want." I propose to work as a team player. I hope to offer actual solutions to the problems that we will face. I hope that a fresh voice will bring fresh ideas.

Marty Koller (Inc.)
Profession - I have been employed by Union Sanitary District for 32 years.
Reason for running - My initial decision to run for the board was based upon my desire to make a positive contribution. My knowledge and experience within the water industry has been instrumental in allowing me to make a significant difference.
Biggest challenge - Seismic vulnerability and the possibility of a third dry year are two of our immediate challenges.
Primary focus - Conservation of our water resources and meeting the needs of our community will continue to be my top priority when re-elected.
Qualifications - My extensive background in operations and maintenance has been extremely beneficial as a board member of Alameda County Water District; the accomplishments of our board are noteworthy. Our dedication and determination will continue to ensure that our most precious resource is protected.

John Weed (Inc.)
Profession - I am a real estate investor specializing in commercial properties in the historic districts of the city of Fremont: Niles and Mission San Jose. I retired as a civil engineer officer Air Force Reserve with 31 years of service and the rank of colonel. I am an attorney and member of the California Bar since 1978.
Reason for running - I have a strong professional interest in water resources and have been a director of the Alameda County Water District since 1995.
Biggest challenge - Waste water collection and treatment in the Tri-City area.
Primary focus - Assuring a reliable, high quality water supply for current and future residents of our community.
Qualifications - I currently serve as a director of the Association of California Water Agencies, and chair of one of 10 Regions in the State of California (Alameda County, Contra Costa County and the Coastal counties from San Francisco to Ventura). I am also an appointed director to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation District (Hetch Hetchy suburban customers). I serve as the Alameda County Water District representative to the Alameda County Special Districts Association.

Castro Valley Sanitary District (elect three):

Daniel Akagi (Inc.)
No Response

Hera Alikian
Profession - My professional experience includes 10 years in the real estate industry as a local realtor and property manager. Currently I am employed by a publicly traded national company - the nation's top luxury home builder.
Reason for running - To be part of a solution for the long term infrastructure and improvements that the district is responsible to.
Biggest challenge - To increase recycling and reduce water waste and sewer overflow.
Primary focus -I believe in fair and equitable distribution to the community and believe in being fiscally conservative in these times of higher costs and prices to the consumers.
Qualifications - I am a lifelong resident of Castro Valley and product of the schools in our town with deep roots within the community. I continued my studies at the University of California at Berkeley studying Economics and Political Science. My understanding of small business and my background in economics gives me practical experience. Over the last three years I have been involved with the Castro Valley Sanitary District in two capacities: the Commercial Advisory Committee and the Citizen's Advisory Committee. I look forward to serving my community and will listen to my constituents concerns. I would be honored to have your vote.

Timothy McGowan (Inc.)
Profession - Licensed civil engineer for the East Bay Municipal Utility District for over 14 years with experience in construction management, design, hydraulic modeling, and environmental permitting.
Reason for running - I decided to run for this board four years ago, because I had an interest in becoming more involved in the community and sewage is an exciting subject of civil engineers.
Biggest challenge - The inflow of rainwater into the sewer system is a serious problem for the sanitary district; Meeting the Alameda County recycling goal of diverting 75% of the solid waste from the landfill by the year 2010 has been a serious priority of the district.
Primary focus - My primary goal is to provide quality service, reasonable rates, and proper long-term management of our resources. Because the toilets never stop flushing, we need a system that is reliable, redundant, and well maintained. Our motto, "When you flush think of us."
Qualifications - One of my strengths is creating budgets and managing projects. My fellow board members have recognized this strength and appointed me the chair of the Budget and Long Range Planning Committee. I have helped guide the District through the Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project without incurring any debt. I have developed a three-year budget, which allows us to forecast and level out rate increases. I continually review the financial reports and hold the staff accountable when they exceed their budgets. Finally the committee is responsible for reviewing our annual audit and ensuring that our money is properly accounted for and that proper controls exist to prevent fraudulent use of district funds. My other board assignments include seating on the Construction Committee where I review and guide our capital improvement program, and I represent the agency at the Special District's Association of Alameda County.

Dennis Waespi (Inc.)
No Response

20th Assembly District (elect one):

Alberto Torrico (Inc.)
Reason for running - I am running to address the key issues many 20th Assembly District families deal with every day.
Biggest challenge - Our challenge is to collaborate to build a 21st century community that reflects our shared values by investing in public education, maintaining and improving access to healthcare, improving transportation, promoting smart growth principles, protecting our environment and creating good jobs with good wages.
Primary focus - My focus will be on education, jobs, healthcare and our environment. We must keep kids on track with early access to healthcare, a quality K-12 education, and an affordable higher education to equip them with the knowledge, training, and skills to compete in the job market.
Qualifications - I've chaired two committees, led the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and risen to be the Assembly Majority Leader by working hard and earning the respect of my colleagues. I have worked across the aisle to build bipartisan support on issues like extending the time mothers have to safely surrender a newborn at a designated facility; requiring a statewide registry and background checks on EMTs to prevent those with criminal backgrounds from slipping through the cracks and jeopardizing public safety; and funding cancer research and prevention strategies through voluntary donations on state income tax forms.

Jeffrey Wald
Reason for running - I am running for State Assembly because I am concerned about long standing problems in our state such as the lack of action on the part of our state leaders to tackle issues such the budget and wasteful spending.
Biggest challenge - In the coming years if we continue to allow the growth of state government to grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth, our cities and counties will face additional cutbacks in services if the state continues to fund the state budget by taking money intended for cities and local development projects.
Primary focus - Restoring the people's trust in government by advocating and supporting legislation that keeps taxes by encouraging responsible spending and reducing regulation.
Qualifications - I have worked with a number of civic and volunteer groups in the areas of planning and public safety. These experiences have provided insight into the process of city planning, public safety and disaster planning. Through this experience I have worked with a number of community and city staff members of a variety of different backgrounds to identify and help improve our communities. I have business experience and know what it's like to run a business, make a payroll and have worked with large and small business customers.

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