South Tahoe Public Utility District candidate profile: Duane Wallace
Occupation: Retired Businessman
Why are you running for reelection?
I came back onto the board after witnessing how close our town came to completely burning down during the Angora Fire in 2007. Since then, we’ve been putting in hundreds of fire hydrants and new larger pipes strategically placed to protect neighborhoods. I want to keep the District on that steady course.
I was on the board in 1991 and was able to make the changes that the voters had wanted made then. It turned out that I found the subject matter fascinating and that I truly enjoyed working on your behalf. I’ve found that my ability to keep our board focused on what the rate payers want works well.
It’s clear that when it comes to subjects like water meters and rate increases that you want us to be consistent, predicable and fair. During my time on the board we were twice named #1 Utility District in the USA by the EPA. We have found ways to run more like a business by generating electricity, raising alfalfa and leasing land out for cattle grazing.
I believe in voting the way you would if you knew what I know. I’m proud that our rates are lowest in the Tahoe Basin.
What are your qualifications?
I was 21 when I opened Happy Steak Restaurant. I have a BA in business administration. I’m a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, UCLA. I have certificates in utility district finance, governance, and communication.
I taught business at LTCC. I was Chamber CEO for 12 years and a Realtor and business consultant.
Co- founder of Leadership Lake Tahoe, Past member Tahoe Youth and Family Services, Kiwanis Family of the year 2005, Foster Adopt Family Champion for Children Award 2012, Outstanding Community Member El Dorado County Association of School Districts in 2008, Charter member Reno Tahoe Olympic bid, Fundraiser Measure S ball fields and Ice Arena, Church Youth Group Leader, Co-founder South Tahoe Wrestling Club, Pop Warner coach, Charter member, Lake Tahoe Education Foundation, Tahoe License Plate Coalition, Past President Secret Witness, Quarterback Club, Tahoe Tomorrow, Hwy 50 Coalition, Boys & Girls Club, Heritage Murals, Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition, BMX track supporter , chair of the Sawmill Pond fishing for kids, South Tahoe Association of Realtors, VP of Government Relations, Past President Lake Tahoe Jaycees, Past President South Y Merchants Association, Past President South Lake Tahoe Chamber, Funding grant started Clean Tahoe. TPNS parent, Foster dad.
What is the No. 1 issue facing the district? How would you address it?
The largest all-encompassing issue facing STPUD is the replacing and repairing of the aging infrastructure. The District was incorporated in the 1950s. Most of the pipes have an estimated life of 50 to 100 years. It was past board’s jobs and this board’s current job to have a plan for the repair and replacement of the pipes, tanks and equipment. We do.
As I stated in my reason for running for office, an important issue is fire suppression. That is an important part of repairing and upsizing our pipes and water tanks. The District is made up of all the small water companies combined that had very small, low-pressure pipes with few if any fire hydrants.
The Angora Fire in 2007 almost swept through our community. Someone or some organization had to do something. Cities and counties usually provide those things but ours either can’t or won’t. Our staff and board have a good financial plan and timeline for keeping the water pure and in good supply and to keep the wastewater from spilling.
Our financial report has won the top award for the past 20 years and we have done our work openly and honestly winning the top award for openness in government for the past two years.
We’ve been able to bring in funds from generating electricity, raising alfalfa and from leasing land to cattle grazers. We are using grants to help supplement our efforts to stay on schedule. I’m very concerned by those candidates that say the sky is falling and that we need huge rate increases. While it is true that the state has surprised all of California with odd ideas that cost us all more we DO NOT NEED HUGE RATE INCREASES.
I won’t vote for that. A steady business plan is in place.
Why should voters select you to serve on the board?
This is your utility district and your money. It needs to be run like a business. I’ve lived here 45 years, through droughts, mud slides, storms and great powder days.
At age 21, I opened Happy Steak and owned it for 16 years. I was Chamber CEO for 12 years. I have a BA in business administration. I’m a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management UCLA.
I’ve worked hard to keep the overall rates the lowest in the Tahoe Basin, and to build the infrastructure needed to keep our drinking water fresh, clean, and available for fire safety. We’ve installed hundreds of fire hydrants and improved fire suppression. I’ve stood firm against special interests.
We cut our sewer connection fees in half. We have changed our ordinance to greatly lower the cost of building affordable housing. We’ve made our district 100 percent recycled including generating electricity, bio techniques and raising alfalfa.
Tamara and I raised four kids here, adopted another and have done foster parenting. We’ve been involved in every aspect of making life better for families, including education, affordable housing, coaching sports, music and youth groups. We love our town.
Your vote for me will send a message that you want fair, independent leaders who will listen to you, who won’t raise rates too high or chase costly schemes with YOUR MONEY. I’ll honor your vote with hard work.
Please vote Duane Wallace.