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Voice: Water not only issue to think about

February 27, 2002

The March primary is approaching and while the water issue will always be very important, there is another very serious matter that should concern voters.

Some Valley individuals who express a strong interest in the policies of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors and the county Board of Supervisors have also made public comments expressing anti-farmer bias.

Yet it is the farmer who has always made the largest financial commitment to the Imperial Valley. It is their financial investment in the valley that provides many of the local area jobs and sales revenue to merchants and other businesses.

The conservation options farmers are considering with regard to the leasing of water to San Diego are designed to have, on balance, a very positive impact on the valley's economy by ensuring a large capital infusion of funds to the valley from San Diego.

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This country operates on the basis of a free-enterprise economy in which entrepreneurs and investors take their capital and invest it wherever they wish to start a business or development to obtain a rate of return in line with the risk they are willing to take.

Local farmers and landowners were among the first investors to commit and risk their capital in Imperial Valley. Other businesses followed.

Today, the Valley seeks other investors who may consider developing an air cargo airport in the valley because they were turned down at Brown Field in San Diego. However, when hateful comments are made describing the entrepreneurial/investor class, or farmers, as being "greedy," then it can make others who are considering investing their wealth in the Valley seriously reluctant to do so. And Valley jobs and revenues do not materialize.

The Valley voters need to not only listen to what candidates say but review their records and experience, in order to elect balanced, fair-minded and knowledgeable individuals to the IID Board of Directors and county Board of Supervisors and repudiate those who would promote race or class conflict. The IID directors have a responsibility to promote the general public interest with regard to water and power. And to their credit, the current IID board has begun, and must continue against stiff resistance from entrenched special interests, the absolutely necessary job of making IID operations more efficient as soon as possible so that all Valley ratepayers can enjoy lower and more reasonable water and power rates.

Valley voters should exercise their good judgment in electing directors and supervisors who know and understand business and the agricultural industry because, as this industry goes, so goes the economy of the Imperial Valley. It will be through the strong community support for the election of such experienced and knowledgeable leaders that voters can best facilitate a rising tide of agricultural prosperity that will truly lift all boats.

TIM HAWK

San Diego

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