Learn about the STPUD candidates | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Learn about the STPUD candidates

Griffin Rogers
griffin@tahoedailytribune.com

The Nov. 4 elections are right around the corner, but some early voters are already deciding on candidates they want for two contested seats on the South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) Board of Directors.

Incumbent Jim Jones and newcomer Shane Romsos are squaring off for Seat 2 on the board.

Romsos, a research scientist at an environmental think-tank, said he wants to be a board member because it's a more direct way of contributing to the community, and he wants to help the district do more than provide drinking water and wastewater services to the public.

"I think for the most part the district is doing a good job, but I think that they can do a better job of controlling costs so those costs aren't passed on to the ratepayer," he said.

Jones, a semi-retired licensed engineer, on the other hand, said he's running for re-election because he has the time, enthusiasm and knowledge to tackle issues pertaining to the protection of the district's $1.6 billion infrastructure, among other things.

"We've done so many of the right things over the years … We've got the basics," he said. "For many years, we were able to stay ahead of the curve and really keep the rates down because we weren't doing things in an emergency-type crisis, and I'm worried if you don't get back in front of the curve, we'll be behind it."

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Andy Chapman and Duane Wallace are vying for the second contended seat on the board — Seat 5.

Wallace, a former STPUD director and businessman, said he's seeking election to make old priorities top priorities once again, such as providing enough water pressure to put out fires in the area.

"The other one is, because the state required meters, it has changed what local residents have to pay. And I want to make sure the rates stay fair for our local citizens," he said.

"I think (the district) is a good organization that needs a little tweaking."

However, Chapman, currently the chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association, said he's interested in the position to better represent ratepayers on the board and provide a voice that hasn't been heard in the past.

"From the district's standpoint and from a professional standpoint, they've done a great job," he said. "I think the issue with rate increases followed by salary increases was a train wreck — not that any of it was inappropriate, but the way it was rolled out showed a lack of communication."

A third seat on the STPUD board — Seat 1 — is also open, but Incumbent Chris Cefalu is running for it unopposed.

For more information about Andy Chapman, Duane Wallace, Jim Jones or Shane Romsos, check out the statements below. Similar to requirements for candidate statements on a sample ballot, each one was allowed 200 words or less to write anything they want about their campaign. The responses are printed verbatim:

Jim Jones:

To all South Lake Tahoe Voters,

As the incumbent, I believe that I am the most qualified person for the position of Director, Seat #2. My involvement in water issues for over 46 years, my education and experience gives me a unique understanding of the complex "business" of water. I will continue to bring professionalism, accountability, openness and dedication to position.

Because of the reluctance of the majority of the Board to raise rates over the past seven years, we are losing ground in keeping up with maintenance, protecting our investment in your infrastructure and protecting our community by improving fire protection. Rate increases have not even kept up with cost-of-living increases. I have fought and will continue to push for more fire lines and hydrants as well as maintaining the $1.6 billion in STPUD infrastructure that you count on.

We should be building for the future, not stealing from it.

I have the enthusiasm, commitment, passion and the time to continue serving our community.

Shane Romsos:

STPUD's mission is to provide drinking water and wastewater services to the South Tahoe Community. This is a complex task given our area's extremes in climate, visitor numbers, and topography with the need to ensure its system's remain intact so it does no harm to Tahoe's unique environment. I am running for the STPUD Board because I'd like to directly serve our community and guide the District toward more cost-effective delivery of services. Cost savings could be realized through investing in energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy sources to fuel operations and by relying more on District staff and local contractors to do needed work. I also believe the district should take advantage of alternative revenues provided by federal and state grants and from recycled water. Alternative funding and cost-savings will help to avoid future customer rate increases. I also believe the district has a role in improving our community by facilitating redevelopment through alternative fee structures for sewer and water hook-ups and creating partnerships with the city and county to create small parks and other recreational amenities. I'm the best choice because I have the institutional and educational background, and will bring progressive ideas to the District that aim to benefit our community.

Andy Chapman:

My name is Andy Chapman and I am running for STPUD seat No. 5. My platform is based on the following four pillars: 1) Fiscal Responsibility 2) Transparency 3) Rate Payer Focused and 4) Community Engagement. I ask for your vote and your support and believe my experience and background makes me the best candidate for the seat.

—-Delivering economic vitality to the Lake Tahoe region via my 20+ year career and service

Elected Trustee, Tahoe Douglas Sewer District 2010 – 2013

Elected Trustee, Skyland General Improvement District 2006-2013

Chair, Skyland General Improvement District 2010-2012

Endorsed by the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce

20-plus year South Shore resident and community volunteer

3 children born at Barton Memorial, South Lake Tahoe and in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District

Board of Director and founding member of Tahoe Prosperity Center

Board member Sierra Ski Marketing Council

Board member and former chair of the Regional Air Service Committee

Visit California marketing committee member

Member and past chair of Visit California rural tourism committee

—-Member of the High Sierra Visitor Council

Duane Wallace:

I've been a local 40 years, through droughts, storms, power outages and sunny powder days. At 21, I opened Happy Steak and owned it for 16 years. I was CEO of the Chamber for 12 years. I have a BA in business administration. I'm a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management. I'm a past STPUD Board member. I worked hard to keep rates low, treat the employees with respect, balance the budget and build the infrastructure needed to keep drinking water clean and available for fighting fires. I stood firm against special interests. I left the Board for 7 years giving me time to reflect on doing the job even better. Tami and I raised Ryan, Miles, Allyssa and Chris here and now 7 year old Riley. We've been involved in every aspect of making life better for families, including education, community improvement, coaching sports, music, and youth groups. We love our town. This is your Utility District and your money. You elect five people to serve you, not to rule over you. Your vote for me will send a message that you want fair, independent leaders who will listen to you. I'll honor your vote with hard work.

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