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El Dorado Hills CSD board hopefuls talk term limits, fees, transparency

Election 2012
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Six candidates for the El Dorado Hills Community Services District race squared off recently at the Senior Center touching on issues ranging from fiscal responsibility to transparency and lawsuits. More than three dozen were in attendance at the Oct. 2 forum, hosted by the El Dorado Hills Senior Council. In their opening statements, Don Clark, a six-year resident, said he’s running for three reasons. “First, I run a tight budget for Intel,” he said. “Second, I want to improve all the fields and reduce our water costs. Third, I’d like to build a multipurpose center and do it all with private money.” Terry Crumpley said she’s been trying to involve locals in happenings at the CSD board meetings. “I’m a fiscal conservative and a CPA,” she said. “We need to be careful how we’re spending our money. I’m a communicator and enjoy listening to people. … I want to make things happen.” Incumbent Guy Gertsch, an eight-year resident, is seeking a second four-year term. “I decided to run and re-run because I love El Dorado Hills,” said the Sacramento native. “I joined the board at a (tough) time, when the economy went (south).” Chuck Hammond, 69, has been a resident for six years. “I was a mayor for Fairfield and a city council member,” he said, touting his experience. “I didn’t get involved with politics until I was 36 years old. We had a great time two years ago (in the last election) and lost only by five votes. Talk to me, I want to hear your ideas.” Incumbent Noelle Mattock said her record speaks for itself. “I grew up in El Dorado Hills,” she said. “My parents moved us here in 1970. My dad was a volunteer firefighter in this very building (now serving as the senior center). I’m a product of El Dorado Hills. I worked for the state and am sort of a policy geek. … I bring real solutions to the issues the district has faced.” Bill Tobin, known in town for his work organizing the Blues and Brews Festival and co-chairing the El Dorado Hills Veterans Memorial, said his volunteerism is behind his move to run for the CSD. “I grew up in Richmond,” Tobin said. “I feel this is a natural progression of volunteerism. … I am an active participant in getting (community projects) done.” When asked if they favored term limits for CSD board members, all were in favor, but the length varied. “I believe in term limits,” said Clark. “I only want to serve one.” Later he stated a one four-year term should be sufficient. Crumpley said two terms should be the limit. “You want to avoid the good old boy network,” she said. Gertsch agreed with two. “I would be open to looking at term limits,” he said. “After the first year, you’re just getting up to speed.” Mattock also said two terms was plenty. “Two terms is probably the appropriate amount,” she said. “The first year, I did a lot of listening.” Tobin said two terms should be the maximum. “Two terms is eight years,” he said. “If I don’t get something done in that amount of time, I’m doing something wrong.” Candidates were also asked how important they believed honesty, integrity and transparency was in the CSD board. Crumpley said, “Transparency is critical. … No matter what you do, you will not make everyone happy all the time.” Gertsch said, “The key things from a leadership perspective are to learn about an issue, listen to residents and to make decisions for the community as a whole.” Hammond said, “You have to let them know you’re working for them.” Mattock said, “Listen and do research. … You do have special interests (lobbying the CSD board). Everybody wants something.” Tobin said, “It’s about responsibility to the public. … Currently there is a closed-door, no-speaking policy from a staff member (to the board). … There are walls being built.” Clark said, “I didn’t see a reason to terminate (former CSD General Manager John) Skeel.” What would the candidates bring to the board? Gertsch relied on the board’s fiscal record. “We had $50,000 in reserves (when I came in) and now we have $4.4 million in reserves,” Gertsch said. “We were on the brink of deficit spending.” Hammond said he’s an open book and the CSD is anything but open. “I can bring openness,” he said. “The last two years, I’ve chatted with each employee at the CSD and each one asked me not to tell anyone else they had spoken to me.” Mattock said her experience is needed. “I bring my fiscal responsibility and (policy experience), (explaining) how what happens at the state affects the CSD. Unfortunately, some of the things discussed here are constrained by the Brown Act,” she said, referring to the claims made by challengers regarding Skeel. Tobin said his community involvement is what the CSD needs. “I bring 30 years of community service (and) volunteerism,” he said. “I’ve done it my whole life. … I was (presented) the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2011. … I won’t take compensation for this job, but will put it in a fund (to benefit others).” Clark said time is precious and he’s willing to give it to the community. “I’ll give you my time and use it efficiently,” he sad. “I was volunteer of the year in Intel in 2009.” Crumpley shot back at the Brown Act claims by Gertsch and Mattock. “The Brown Act has been used as a crutch for a lack of transparency and communication,” Crumpley said. “I’m a CPA. I’m opposed to new taxes and new fees. …. I bring leadership. I will not micromanage the general manager or the staff.” When asked what businesses they would help attract to town, all said the local government has no control over what businesses come to town. Mattock said the CSD should foster a business friendly atmosphere. Tobin took the opportunity to criticize the lack of adult programs offered through the CSD. He said the CSD should partner with local entrepreneurs so they can teach their skills to residents. Clark said he’d like to “see a few better restaurants in town and some retail. We can work out with the county for a tax abatement to get businesses town.” Crumpley said the CSD needs to utilize local businesses when putting out bids. Gertsch said, “It’s important to support local businesses.” He said the board is looking at changing their bidding guidelines to allow for a local bidder to get preference as long as the bid is within a reasonable margin from the lowest. When asked how lawsuits affect taxpayers, each offered a different take and some took swipes at the current board and their settlement with Skeel. Mattock said the CSD was financially stable and lawsuits wouldn’t make much of an impact. “It shouldn’t affect taxpayers,” she said. Tobin said the CSD shouldn’t have dipped into the general fund to settle a lawsuit. “Half the money going to Skeel is coming out of the general fund,” Tobin said. Clark said the Skeel issue was poorly handled. “Skeel shouldn’t have been paid for seven months if he was worthy of being fired,” he said. Crumpley said it’s commendable the board has $4.4 million in reserves, especially in this economy. “But, I find it unbelievable to say (the lawsuit settlement) won’t affect taxpayers,” she said. “The money is taxpayer money.” Gertsch said while everyone is speculating on Skeel and the settlement, he and Mattock were unable to speak about that subject. “Don’t always believe what you read in the press,” he said. “I’m not a proponent of paying for frivolous lawsuits. We live in a frivolous lawsuit environment. … We need to have strong leadership in a general manager and legal counsel.”