Vote for leadership

Editorial

The most critical issue this community faces — now and in the future — is water. We must find an affordable solution to this problem if we expect to build and grow. The most divisive issue this community has ever faced is the Ridgecrest City Council’s approval of an Indian gaming casino, to be located at the front gate of one of the premier naval bases in the United States.

It is imperative that we seek out the best possible leadership to guide us through these troubled waters. In listening to, and becoming acquainted with, the candidates for Ridgecrest City Council and Indian Wells Valley Water District Board of Directors, I would like to endorse the following candidates:

For City Council, Scott Hayman offers a sound approach in helping to solve the water issue. He has stated that he sees water as the biggest issue we face and that water-related challenges are what prompted him to run for office. He says we need more studies before we can identify sustainable solutions. “I don’t know how we can make decisions before we have definitive information,” he said. That reminds me of former President Dwight Eisenhower’s policy on the issues: “I won’t make a decision until all the facts are in.” We need this kind of wisdom at the table. Hayman is also the only candidate who has publicly stated his opposition to the casino. Of all the city candidates, he is the only one to express concern about the many negative impacts casinos have had on small, rural towns. He has also shown a strong sense of appreciation for the social values that represent the culture of this community. His leadership would put us in a better position to serve the mission of the base and provide a safe community in which to raise families.

For the water board, Stan Rajtora has demonstrated a long history of commitment to representing the public’s interests on the issues. He attends almost every meeting of the agencies that make the decisions that have the most impact on our future — the Ridgecrest City Council, the IWV Water District Board and the IWV Groundwater Authority. He routinely offers thoughtful input at these public meetings, always contending for transparency, fiscal accountability and integrity — especially as it relates to the ratepayers. He has recently addressed the complaints about the inequity in the fixed rates and higher tiers of the rate structure. He questions the board’s decision to raise rates for capital expenditures, particularly in light of the large financial reserves. He analyzes issues and comes back before the board respectfully and with a voice of reason, bringing a wealth of expertise (from his previous career at China Lake as an analyst) to inform his proposed solutions. We need his voice, not only as a watchdog, but also as a decision maker.

I also endorse incumbent Chuck Griffin, who offers knowledge and experience that is so desperately needed in our representatives. Griffin is frequently the only opposing voice on issues because he does not believe blind consensus is necessary for a functional board. Importantly, Griffin sees the water district’s adherence to the State Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) as the greatest challenge the board faces through its role on the groundwater authority. He often brings clarification to SMGA law when it is overlooked or misunderstood by other members of the board.

We will win or lose as a valley based on our adherence to that act. Griffin’s 20 years in drilling large production wells provides him with a better understanding of hydrogeology of our groundwater basin. He has been the primary voice in opposing the proposed water rate increases. I think the system is currently unfair to the ratepayers. He also wants to see a lower “ready-to-serve” charge, in fairness to all ratepayers.

The News Review, from the beginning, has pushed for a data-driven approach to resolving the water issue. We are not willing to define our future based on an unproven and highly contested assumption. Relying on poorly substantiated evidence is no pathway to a solution.

The foundation of good governance is representation “of the people, by the people, for the people.” These candidates have shown the most dedication to representing our interests.

Pat Farris, publisher

Story First Published: 2018-10-26