Qualified, responsible, fair leadership - a must


I take seriously the endorsement of candidates. And I feel accountable to share my views. Our responsibility as journalists is to study the issues and follow closely the developments and keep our readers informed. In so doing, we have a broader knowledge regarding the accomplishments and effectiveness of elected officials and our community’s leaders.

Lindsey Stephens – Mayor: My endorsement of Stephens is based on these observations: having a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning, and having served seven years working in that field, she brings a level of professionalism that none of the other candidates can bring to the table. Stephens has demonstrated her ability to save the city money through her research and discovering purchase contracts that have given the city funding for park renovations and street repairs ahead of schedule. She has looked for opportunities to ensure that our youth have things to do. The splash pad has been a big hit and she continues to work toward restoring Pinney Pool.

High on the list of priorities for mayor is a commitment to transparency. This has been a major concern to many of the citizens. Stephens has fought for transparency at the cost of being seriously criticized by fellow boardmembers. During meetings, she consistently encourages public input.

Kyle Blades – City Council: In the few months he has served on the council, Blades has demonstrated fair mindedness and a strong sense of vision. His optimistic approach to improving quality of life could not come at a better time. He also encourages the city to become more business friendly.

Blades sees a need for the IWV Groundwater Authority to expand on facts, data and scientific study to find an effective solution to our water problem. This is a most commendable approach to the most crucial issue our city, and our valley, faces. Blades also shows concern for more public input on controversial issues. He believes it’s critical moving forward with a greater sense of unity — a much-needed component in today’s climate.

Solomon Rajaratnam – City Council: With 20 years of involvement in various aspects of this community, Rajaratnam has an understanding of the broader picture of what the city needs. In his candidate statement in the Oct. 2 News Review, it is evident that he has carefully considered and thought out the major issues that the city faces. Rajaratnam’s banking history certainly contributes to his ability to understand business plans, financial statements and money management. Looking back at some of the poor business decisions in the city’s recent history, with millions of dollars lost, that could have been avoided with his strong sense of accountability and knowledge of investment risks. These are strengths needed on city council.

Chuck Griffin – Water District: Griffin’s experience as a previous director, serving at the time the Groundwater Authority was conceived, gives him a broad understanding of the issues at stake. The future of any community is based on its knowledge and understanding of available resource. Griffin has been a strong advocate for a better, more-scientific approach to our Groundwater Sustainability Plan. A major concern he expresses is that our ratepayers, water district customers, are going to be paying the bulk of the recently passed groundwater replenishment fee. This should be a wakeup call. We are looking at collecting $52 million, much of which will go toward administrative costs and none of which will go toward actually replenishing groundwater. It goes toward purchasing rights to water elsewhere that we are told is our only solution to our declining water table. I can’t say strongly enough how important it is to have board members who understand what is happening here and are not afraid to call for fairness and accountability.

Of all of the candidates and sitting boardmembers, Griffin is the only person who understands the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The district funded his participation in a state conference while he was serving on the board, but he was never given an opportunity to apprise the board on how the state law works. GA members have also either ignored or not understood SGMA law. Consequently we are now faced with millions of dollars in lawsuits. Griffin’s knowledge and experience is critical and timely.

Charles “Chuck” Cordell – Water District: Cordell is also a strong opponent of the replenishment fee. He was a major player in a referendum to repeal the fee and requested it be placed on a future ballot. He is calling for better financial management and more accountability from the GA. He also has grave concerns that the district ratepayers are going to be the only ones left paying for the fees mounting into tens of millions of dollars. During his time on the board, Cordell has stood up for the ratepayers and continually presses for accountability from the GA. He has demonstrated fair mindedness — an important attribute. Doing business locally on a large scale for more than 40 years gives him a unique, common-sense understanding of community building.

Our future rests on qualified, responsible, and fair-minded leadership.

— Pat Farris, Publisher

Story First Published: 2020-10-30