Water and sewer are the major issues facing the seven candidates competing for three seats on the Templeton Community Services District board of directors this November — and each contender has a plan for change.
The current board decided this year to disconnect Templeton from Paso Robles’ sewer treatment plant, which needs a costly upgrade that the district would partly fund. The change would take effect as soon as the district can make the necessary improvements to its existing sewer. Design plans and a cost estimate for that are still in the works.
There’s also the question of how to pay for the district’s share in the Nacimiento Water Project now that the sale of new water meters, mostly to new construction, have dwindled during the recession.
Some residents alluded this summer to a divide among the current district board members. Several candidates have pledged to be team players and work toward building consensus.
As of Monday, finding a new fire chief was added to the list of changes to come to the small North County town. Current Chief Jim Langborg announced plans to leave the department at the end of November to start a new fire department in Texas.
Incumbent Judy Dietch, 62, a forensic psychologist, has served on the district’s board for 12 years and the Nacimiento Water Commission for the past two years. She is running for re-election because, she said, her historical perspective will provide continuity for ongoing projects as she works to maintain the area’s “independence in the face of growing regulation.”
She believes her working relationships with other civic and county leaders as well as her ability to manage difficult financial times have made her an asset to the district board.
“I have a strong commitment to the town of Templeton and maintaining the rural hometown appeal while still moving forward,” she said.
Geoff English, 51, a city maintenance services director who oversees public works systems, is running “because I sincerely care about Templeton and I want to offer my time and efforts to help my community,” he said.
Specifically, he plans to “advocate for steadfast fiscal responsibility” and work toward “expanded public participation through workshops and public educational forums on our upcoming challenges,” he said.
English also raised his family in Templeton. He’s coached local youth sports, served on two of the district’s parks and recreation advisory committees and spends time at church. He believes his 25 years of working in the public sector and local know-how will help tackle tough obstacles to come.
Brenda Gray, 48, a local health care administrator, has served on the Templeton Chamber of Commerce board of directors and participates in local business groups.
While working and raising her son in Templeton, Gray said she’s learned that fiscal responsibility is a key element in life and also imperative in public service.
“The board must work hard for taxpayers and working families in a time when our county is struggling economically,” she said.
Gray would work toward efficiently spending tax dollars on essential services “while preserving and protecting the Templeton way of life,” she added.
David LaCaro, 37, a water quality scientist, believes his career experiences in water resource protection, wastewater management and government policies will help lead Templeton through the coming years.
LaCaro’s platform includes three key issues: ensuring the long-term viability for the district’s wastewater and water infrastructure, providing stronger community representation in county development plans, and reinforcing policies and procedures that allow for a “cohesive and professional decision-making atmosphere,” he said.
Overall, the Templeton homeowner believes his “enthusiasm, pragmatism, good work ethic, and approachability will ultimately provide the best voice for the community.”
Daniel Migliazzo, 59, a utility company manager, believes his 35 years in the water and wastewater management industry gives him helpful insight into Templeton’s proposed projects.
“Because I’ve worked in the industry, I know what works and what doesn’t work,” he said. “I can make sound operational decisions that may offer cost savings to the district.”
Migliazzo also raised his family in Templeton, serving on the North County Aquatics board for almost 10 years during the 1990s when his eldest daughter was on the swim team. When Migliazzo dedicates himself to a cause, he said his focus stays there.
“I don’t want the district to spend unnecessary money if there are other ways to do it,” he said.
Wayne Petersen, 70, a retired audit director, was inspired by his grandchildren to run because “I am concerned about their future and that of Templeton,” he said.
The Templeton Community Library Association president wants to help protect and preserve the character and quality of life of the little town while encouraging more public participation in district decisions.
He’s also concerned with the state of the current board, saying “governance does not exist” among its members who are “unable to function as a team.”
Petersen said his life experiences will help him make a difference by encouraging the district to move forward on water and sewer issues while sharing ideas and creating a team atmosphere.
Candidate Clifford Beere didn’t immediately return calls for comment.