Modesto Irrigation District candidates discuss issues – and each other

September 29, 2013 

DIVISION 2

John Mensinger

Selling water

“(The San Francisco proposal) was outrageous, a Trojan horse deal. If you’re going to do something as sensitive as sell water, you want to bend over backward to be open and transparent. I don’t want to transfer any water till we know exactly what the water situation is.”

Foothills well pumping

“It is to be regulated by the county Board of Supervisors. They’re working on a plan. I want to look at the groundwater modeling from the U.S. Geological Survey.”

Power vs. irrigation

“Electrical users are subsidizing the water side. This is inappropriate. Step 1 is quantifying the size of the subsidy. Step 2 is increasing water rates by a reasonable amount each year until the subsidy is eliminated.”

Opponent

“Carmen Sabatino is very proud of the four years he spent as mayor, but when he ran for re-election he got less than 15 percent of the vote. That suggests that voters did not feel he had done a good job. I think Carmen Sabatino would be a negative choice to serve on the MID board.”

Carmen Sabatino

Sellling water

“Our water rights in Stanislaus County are the basis of our economy. I will see that there will be no secret agenda to ship water to Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

Foothills well pumping

“(Hydrologist) Vance Kennedy knows what he’s talking about, what a catastrophe it will be once they pump it dry. And now (growers have) got the gall to come to the MID to ask for electricity up there so they can run their pumps? When the water is gone, the trees will be gone and MID won’t have that income.”

Power vs. irrigation

“A more equitable formula will be found. We must respect our residential ratepayers, particularly our older citizens who live on fixed incomes.”

Opponent

“John Mensinger was recruited. I just don’t think he’s qualified. Anybody endorsed by outgoing members of the board should not be elected.”

DIVISION 3

Paul Campbell

Selling water

“The first order of business is to ensure that we’re taking care of the prime industry in our area. It seems farming creates a whole lot of opportunity down the line. I don’t think we could say we should sell water at this point, if we don’t know what we have.”

Foothills well pumping

“It seems odd to me that people would put in these farming operations without having looked at the water situation. It kind of bothers me that now we’ve got to force regulations upon ourselves. It’s not going to be an easy fix.”

Power vs. irrigation

“Water is going to have to get a little more expensive. I don’t know if it can be fully equitable; it’s going to have to be gradual.”

Opponent

“Every time we’ve met, he’s been polite. I don’t know him that well, but he seems to be a good man with good intentions.”

Les Johnson

Selling water

“I’m emphatically against selling water. We need to take care of the people here. I don’t think we can consider selling unless we have an abundance. We’re going to have to see what the winter brings.”

Foothills well pumping

“Those people want MID to serve them with power. If (almonds) falter, the investors can pull out and let the thing dry up. That scares me. But I don’t know if legally we can do anything.”

Power vs. irrigation

“There is going to have to be a thorough investigation into why the rate structure is the way it is.”

Opponent

“He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s attended meetings (only recently) while I’ve been going three years. There has got to be some change, but my opponent was recruited by a former board member.”

DIVISION 4

Ted Donham

Selling water

“I would not even entertain that thought when I don’t see that we have any to sell. When I hear the word ‘monetize,’ I just shudder because it means putting a value on it, and if somebody walks up, they expect you to give it. We can’t monetize our water.”

Foothills well pumping

“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. To get almonds to grow, then sell it and run away because the water is going away is terrible and wrong. The county’s going to have to jump in real soon or (growers) will do irreversible damage.”

Power vs. irrigation

“You can’t do it overnight. If it makes the people in town feel better, I guess the farmers need to pay more. But it’s not going to solve anything. Debt is the beast, the giant that we’ve got to start fixing.”

Opponents

“Mr. Mortensen is way off on what his expectations could and should be. Jake’s a good guy, but does he know what’s going on? No. He’s too young and what he knows, he read or has been told. What I know, I lived, I saw and experienced every inch of the way. He has a passion; I have a commitment.”

Brad Johnson

Selling water

“It’s a nonstarter. It’s silly because we don’t have it. It’s a talking point that doesn’t really matter to my constituents, most of whom are electric customers. Of course we shouldn’t sell what we don’t have.”

Foothills well pumping

“(Growers) acquired cheap property and are trying for a cash crop with dirty diesel pumps exploiting natural resources. Facilitating their exploiting is not a good idea.”

Power vs. irrigation

“It’s a huge inequity. It’s important that we get electric rates in line, and it affects the poor dramatically more. It’s real clear that MID is not up to date on alternative energy. In other areas, solar is encouraged (more).”

Opponents

“Ted has electrical experience. I don’t want to say anything bad about them. Each has expertise, but each is encumbered by affiliations with special interests.”

Jim Mortensen

Selling water

“It ought to stay in the county first. The board needs to establish a set of protocols by which we will sell water.”

Foothills well pumping

“I truly believe there should be a moratorium, with caveats for people who have trees ordered or wells sunk. It should have been in place yesterday. I’ll probably end up at the (county) Board of Supervisors to recommend that they do something quickly.”

Power vs. irrigation

“We put together a 10-year pro forma (on the water advisory committee) to make up the inequity. The $2.7 million shortfall should be made up. It’s a law, and they’re fooling themselves if they think we won’t get sucked into it. The longer they wait to accept it, the meter’s running and we’ve got to (pay) it back.”

Opponents

“I think Donham is not qualified. Jake is a bright young lad, but he has some misunderstandings about how the district works. He’s a very polished debate champion. At 29 years old, he’s full of himself, and he should be at that age – God, I was worse than he was. I’ve got more experience. I listen more than I talk.”

Jake Wenger

Selling water

“We need to look for potential partners for when we have water to move, in high-water years, and get more ag customers with more annexations to the district, similar to what OID did.”

Foothills well pumping

“If we offer the possibility of annexation, we could have partners in wet years to use our surface water instead of pumping groundwater. That’s a big source of revenue and they’re not turning those pumps on, and the water possibly makes its way back into the water table. Everybody is looking to the county Board of Supervisors, but this is something the MID can do.”

Power vs. irrigation

“(Legal subsidy questions) are for attorneys to decide. The strategy is to wait and see the outcome of other lawsuits to know how it will affect us. We need to find a way to lower electric rates, and the easiest way is by controlling spending.”

Opponents

“Ted and I see more eye to eye on some things. Brad is newer but picking things up quickly. Of course Jim has a lot of information when it comes to MID.”

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