Mayor candidate Peggy Breeden

Spotlight on the Candidates

Mayor candidate Peggy Breeden “There is a perception that there is a huge divide in the community. I don’t think it exists, but the fact that there is even a perception of that concerns me. I would like to find a way to unite the community,” said Peggy Breeden, who is seeking a third two-year term as mayor.

“I know what we are doing, I know there isn’t anything we do to try and hide.

“I’ve got to find a way, and the council has to find a way, to address the concerns of the community — specifically those related to water and the casino.”

Breeden said that the city cannot control who comes into Ridgecrest to operate. “When people approach us, it’s not our job to decide whether we like them.”

She was asked about concerns that the city’s interests had not been adequately represented throughout the process to negotiate the land sale and municipal service agreements. “I think the city protected its interest. And we added two items to the MSA about water and marijuana, so those are no longer a concern. I think the tribe has been more than willing to address concerns.”

Breeden said she believes that water is “infinitely more important” but less divisive than the casino. “The question is not whether we have an open basin or whether we have a closed basin, or whether we have more or less water. The state says we are critically overdrafted, and by 2020 we have to have a plan. If we don’t do it, the state does it for us.”

The GSA is proposing to charge users $30 per acre foot of water. “The state estimates the cost they will charge is $500 an acre foot.”

However, Breeden said, the basin will remain overdrawn no matter how much is cut. “We have to go to the state and let them know we have water available. We have 2 million acre feet of brackish water in storage. Right now, the sustainability laws say that water-in, water-out has to be even. And they are not. We have 7,000 acre feet in, 26,000 acre feet out. But we can ask the state not to treat us as a cookie-cutter basin since we have water in storage that they have not looked at or allowed us to use.”

Breeden said that the Navy is exempt from reductions, but that local growers and other consumers will have to reduce their water use. “We can still grow as a community, as much as we need to in order to address the needs of the Navy and the community.”

She said the community is already growing — as evidenced by new hotels and other businesses coming into town.

“We are going to grow,” she said. She also noted that between 7,000 and 10,000 travelers pass by Ridgecrest each day, and that the city can work on plans to draw more travelers — and their pocketbooks — into the valley to support local businesses. She proposed annexing land to move property lines out to nearby highways as one way the city can make sure it recovers its share of the money spent by travelers.

“This is a golden opportunity. We can’t let it pass us by.”

In addition to her four years as mayor, Breeden has experience serving on the IWV?Water District Board of Directors and the IWV?Airport Board of Directors.

She has also owned and operated the Swap Sheet for decades.

Story First Published: 2018-10-12