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Early water board election results lean toward incumbents

November 05, 2013|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

It appears the three incumbents on the Crescent Valley Water District board may retain their seats, according to early election results Tuesday night.

With two out of seven precincts reporting, James Bodnar had received 512 votes, or about 32% of the total votes counted. Kerry Erickson had garnered 445 votes, or about 28%, while Kenneth Putnam had gotten 360 votes, or roughly 22%.

Challenger Charles Beatty, a former member of the utility board, had received 287 votes, or about 18%. Beatty currently serves on the Crescenta Valley Town Council, an advisory body for Los Angeles County.

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The Crescenta Valley Water District has implemented several sizable water- and sewer-rate hikes recently because of higher costs for wastewater treatment by the Los Angeles Sanitation Department, and because of plans to fund improvements to the utility’s aging infrastructure.

The incumbents prefer to cover those costs with cash rather than take on debt, while Beatty leans toward bonds to pay for improvements such as solar panels to reduce long-term energy costs for producing water.

Erickson, who worked for 44 years in various positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the utility is already paying off a $10-million bond that will cost the district about $18 million by 2037, the end of the bond’s term.

He added that his main objective is to try to cut operating expenses by reducing employee benefits or freezing open positions.

“I think we’re starting to rein in our costs,” Erickson said Tuesday night, adding that the utility should offer benefits that are “fair and equitable” to its employees, but still within what the district can afford.

Bodnar, who has served as the board’s finance committee chairman and is board president, said one of his priorities is to review the water-rate structure.

For example, customers who use less indoor water should not pay the same as customers who use more indoor water, said Bodnar, who is a senior water resource engineer with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

“I’m committed to keeping water rates as low as possible, while keeping the water district on a sustainable path,” he said Tuesday.

Bodnar also wants to look for creative solutions to reduce the district’s imported water demand and work cooperatively with the city of Glendale.

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