Election 2020: 7 candidates fight for 3 seats on the STPUD board
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Three spots are up for grabs on the South Tahoe Public Utilities District Board of Directors.
The district serves over 14,000 residential water connections, 660 commercial and government sites, has 16 active wells and 330 miles of sewer lines, as well as a treatment plant and export system to Alpine County.
Two of the seats available for four-year terms and one is for a two-year term and seven candidates are vying for those spots.
Duane Wallace (Incumbent) — Long-time South Lake Tahoe resident Duane Wallace has served 20 of the last 30 years on the STPUD board and he’s loved every minute of it.
In the 1980’s, Wallace worked on an affordable housing task force, in which he focused on making sewer and water affordable. Since being elected to the STPUD board in 1990, that has continued to be an area of focus for him.
Wallace served on and off over the next 30 years, and he was appointed to the board last year. He said he now brings knowledge of institutional history to the board and staff.
There are many accomplishments that the board has achieved during his time with the board, including defeating 32 oil companies in a lawsuit, upsizing water lines, being named number one utility district in the U.S. and one of the few utility districts in the world that is 100% recycled.
In addition, installation of fire hydrants prevent the Angora Fire from getting down into the city.
Wallace is continuing to work on affordable housing by working with the board to cut utility connection fees in half.
Throughout COVID-19, the district cut bills in half and waived late fees.
“We had money saved for a rainy day and this is the rainy day,” Wallace said.
If re-elected, Wallace wants to continue funding repairs to the aging infrastructure, keep water pure and clean, prevent forest fires with adequate water pressure, hydrants and tanks and continue working on affordable housing.
“I represent the public to the district, not the other way around,” Wallace said. “I really enjoy working on behalf of the community.”
To learn more, email Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Sheehan (Incumbent) — Sheehan has lived in Tahoe since 1981 and has raised her two daughters here.
Sheehan and her husband purchased Steamers Bar and Grill in 2008 and she was elected to the STPUD board in 2012.
She originally ran in 2012 because she wanted the opportunity to learn about something she’d never have learned before and she wanted to give back to the community.
She was on the fence about running again but after the death of Director Jim Jones in May of 2020, she felt that the board needs continuity.
It wasn’t too much of a burden for her to run again though since she’s enjoyed her time as a director and finds the material, “terribly interesting.”
One of the things Sheehan has enjoyed most about being on the board is the collaboration and respect among the board members for each other.
“Everyone thinks of the greater good,” Sheehan said.
She’s proud of being able to keep rates affordable and maintain excellent service, especially during COVID. Sheehan said the board was in agreement about providing financial help for customers during the difficult time.
If reelected, Sheehan wants to continue work on and be proactive with infrastructure repairs and upgrades. She also promises to continue to be fiscally responsible and consider new ways of doing things.
“I feel like I work well with others and I’m open to new ideas,” Sheehan said.
To learn more, email Sheehan at email@example.com.
David Peterson — Civil engineer David Peterson is vying for his chance to join the board. Peterson started the company Peterson Brustad Inc., which provides engineering consulting to companies that provide water resources, in Folsom 15 years ago. Now that he’s retired, Peterson wants to give back to the community.
Peterson grew up in South Lake Tahoe but moved away to become an engineer. He and his wife bought a house in South Lake in 2012 and he said it felt like he was coming home.
If elected, Peterson said he’s not coming in with a list of objectives, although he is interested in exploring the possibility of a hydropower plant on the waste export line over Luther Pass.
“I want to provide drinking and waste water at a reasonable rate and have responsibly managed utilities,” Peterson said.
To learn more, email Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margie Kovarik-Maxhimer — Kovarik-Maxhimer has lived in South Lake Tahoe for 33 years and has been actively involved in the community.
Kovarik-Maxhimer owned several T-shirts and souvenir shops and owned the rental property company Tahoe Summers Inc.
She also served on the Kiwanis board, the South Lake Tahoe cabinet for the El Dorado Community Fund and the board of Tahoe Turning Point.
Now that she’s retired, she’s ready to take on a new role and she’s no stranger to STPUD since her husband worked there for 40 years.
“I’ve sat on a lot of boards so I know how to be a good member,” Kovarik-Maxhimer said, including knowing what preparation needs to take place for meetings.
Kovarik-Maxhimer’s focus, if elected, would be focusing on the aging infrastructure of the district and containing leaks more efficiently.
She also said she’ll be fiscally responsible by focusing on a fair rate policy and managing reserves so the district can be eligible for low interest loans and grants.
Finally, she wants to focus on fire suppression by expanding fire hydrant coverage and making sure all existing hydrants are high flow.
To learn more, email Kovarik-Maxhimer at email@example.com.
Jennifer Peterson — Local attorney and real estate broker, Jennifer Peterson is also looking for the opportunity to serve on the board. Despite being an attorney, Peterson said she will have plenty of time to focus on the board since she works part-time and owns her own practice. In addition, Peterson knows how much work being on the board could be, especially when it comes to preparing for meetings.
“I enjoy being part of the decision making process,” Peterson said.
If elected, Peterson said she’d prioritize infrastructure and fire suppression. One of Peterson’s concerns is the aging infrastructure saying if they don’t actively prevent breakdowns, there could be a catastrophe.
She’d start by looking at capital improvement needs, updating technology and partnering with other agencies.
“I want to hit the ground running,” Peterson said.
To learn more, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geraldine “Gerri” Grego — Retired resort manager Gerri Grego has been involved in the community for many years and is now looking for another way to give back.
Grego has served on the South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission, the El Dorado Commission on Aging and Tahoe Sustainability Collaboration working on health and housing.
“I feel like I have something to offer to the board,” Grego said. “I always like to learn and I’m excited to learn new things.”
Grego said she’ll make sure she’s prepared for every meeting, look at multiple angles to solve problems and look for facts when making decisions. Grego also said she’ll be fiscally responsible.
“I will look for what’s the best bang for the buck and best for the community,” Grego said.
One of Grego’s main focuses will be on fire suppression. She saw the positive impact fire hydrants had on preventing the Angora Fire moving into the city and wants to make sure there is plenty of coverage in town in case another fire starts. In addition, she wants to make sure all the existing hydrants have enough flow.
Overall, Grego is happy with the direction the board is moving but knows that it only takes one or two elections to change directions.
“We currently have good momentum and I want to keep that going,” Grego said.
To learn more, email Grego at email@example.com.
Shane Romsos — Environmental research scientist Shane Romsos is also looking to serve the community through the STPUD board of directors.
Romsos has a background in natural resources and works at Spatial Informatics Group, a company that provides environmental consultants in areas such as forest carbon offset, wildfire risk management and environmental mapping.
Romsos wants to bring his environmental experience to the board by helping the district invest in energy efficient technologies and upgrading systems for fire flows and reducing forest fuels.
He wants to support local economies by providing a living wage for district employees and helping with affordable housing by reducing the upfront costs of hooking up services. A long term goal of his is to turn the area around the Diamond Valley plant into a wetland that will provide wildlife habitats and an area for people to recreate and learn.
Romsos said he’s open and available for anyone who wants to chat.
To learn more, visit http://www.shane4director.org.
Ballots can be dropped off from Oct. 6 through Nov. 3 at the South Lake Tahoe Library in the 24-hour drop box, at Holiday Market South Lake Tahoe from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or Grocery Outlet South Lake Tahoe from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Residents can vote in person at California Conservation Corp 1949 Apache Ln., or Lake Tahoe Community College, 1 College Dr., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
For more information, visit http://www.edcgov.us/Government/Elections.
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