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IID candidates questioned on transfer

January 29, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Five candidates running for election to the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors met Monday to answer questions by the United Taxpayers of Imperial County.

The candidates were Gilbert Grijalva, who is running for the Division 5 seat; Ruben Garcia, who is running for the Division 3 seat; Division 3 incumbent Lloyd Allen; John Hernandez, who is running for the Division 1 seat and Division 1 incumbent Andy Horne. Division 5 incumbent Rudy Maldonado did not attend.

After brief self-introductions, the candidates answered questions posed by the taxpayers' group and the audience, which numbered about 50 people.

The first question related to the pending IID/San Diego water transfer. Each was asked to explain his position on the allocating of water to the farm gate and how transfer revenues should be divided.

Horne said he is 100 percent against allocating water to the gate, but he favors assigning water by history for the purposes of measuring conservation. He said farmers should be reimbursed for their conservation investment, but that if fallowing is used to conserve water, the community should be compensated for third-party impacts.


Garcia said he is opposed to allocating water to the gate and that those impacted through fallowing should be compensated. He said such decisions require input from all interested parties.

Grijalva said transfer revenues should be distributed equitably and people should be open-minded enough to discuss the issue publicly. He said he opposes allocation to the gate.

Hernandez said the assignment of water involves a number of complex factors, including technology and cropping patterns. He said IID should be the custodian of any transfer revenues and should be the one tasked with deciding how to share them.

Allen said he has always supported creating a fund to benefit the community and that a properly carried-out transfer will increase local jobs. He said transfer expenses associated with the so-called Davis-Bacon Act, or prevailing wage laws, should be avoided.

The candidates were asked what role the IID should play in economic development and whether such efforts duplicate those by other organizations.

Grijalva said there is a role for the district in economic development.

Hernandez said there should not be a duplication in services, but IID has a role to play. He said economic development equates to more power meters, and more power meters equates to more money.

Allen said IID should play a role in economic development, but not duplicate what others do. He said IID played a role in the U.S. Gypsum expansion, and in bringing Brawley Beef here.

Horne said he does not think there is a duplication of services by IID. He said IID has a role to play in economic development, but it should not play a leading role in drumming up business. He said the district can offer incentives that can lead to new jobs locally but that all incentives must be paid back.

Garcia said the district should play a strong role in economic development. He said the district should hire someone to lead IID's efforts in economic development.

The candidates were asked where they stand on the donation of IID funds to such things as Pioneers' Museum and Imperial Valley College.

Garcia said he has a problem giving away public moneys that do not belong to the IID Board of Directors. He said there should be a policy in place to cover such donations.

Grijalva said there are many worthy causes in a poor community such as this one. He said any donations should be according to a district policy, and that any donations should not benefit individuals.

Hernandez said favoritism should not play a role in such donations and guidelines should be followed and donations should benefit as many people as possible.

Allen said IID has an obligation to help support local causes, including the museum and college, because they end up benefiting the community, as does the IID canal-pipelining fund.

Horne said IID does have a policy in place on such donations. He said there is the perception the district spends a lot of money on such things, but the $50,000 yearly budget in that area goes a long way in this community. He said IID should be involved in the community.

Other questions dealt with the Salton Sea, the falling water charge, the public benefits charge and how to control operating costs.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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