In November, North Coast voters in Cambria and Los Osos will be selecting new members for their community service district boards of directors.
Both towns have four candidates competing for two open four-year seats and single candidates who will fill open two-year seats.
San Simeon also has two open four-year seats and an open two-year seats. But with only three candidates, those positions will be filled automatically.
Here is a look at the candidates running for North Coast CSD board seats:
In Cambria, four candidates are running for two four-year term seats. A third seat for a two-year term will be appointed to David Pierson.
Pierson was appointed to the board in December 2017 and said he decided to run again with hopes of improving the financial position of the district and obtain the regular operating permit for the Sustainable Water Facility.
Pierson is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam. After the Navy, he became a businessman and professional engineer. He moved to Cambria in 2015 and is a member of the American Legion and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Incumbent Cindy Steidel, a 21-year Cambria resident, said she has several decades of business, finance and project management experience.
Steidel currently serves on the CSD finance subcommittee where she has focused on fiscal discipline and transparency.
Like Pierson, she is a supporter of the Sustainable Water Facility and would like to assure water security for Cambria residents. Steidel also serves a number of other community organizations and is vice chair of the County’s North Coast Advisory Council.
“I love our coastal environment and believe we can realize our potential as a community while preserving the beauty and culture in which we all thrive,” Steidel wrote in an email.
Incumbent Aaron Wharton, appointed to the board in October 2017, is running for re-election for a four-year term. Wharton wants to finish work that was started four years ago concerning the town’s water security.
Wharton, who owns 927 Beer Co., said he understands the importance of water for the tourism trade. He also hopes to repair Cambria’s aging infrastructure if elected.
“ I want to see Cambria thrive and I want to see my kids have Cambria be a place to live and raise their children,” the father of two wrote in an email.
Donn Howell, a 20-year Cambria homeowner, is also running for a four-year seat on the board.
Howell said his goal as a board director would be to promote accountability, communication and transparency.
Howell worked in the information technology field for nearly 30 years, giving him problem-solving skills, he said. He also spent time as a real estate broker, which he said gave him an appreciation for local business concerns.
“I’m running for director to assist in providing responsible guidance and direction for the future of our very special little town,” Howell wrote via email.
Candidate Dennis Perry, a naturopathic practitioner, said he is running with hopes to freeze and eliminate non-essential expenditures, renegotiate “less than desirable” contracts and update fire preparedness requirements. Over the past two years, Perry said he has pushed to have an updated weed and grasses abatement requirement on the agenda by February 2019. Perry also said he also wants to find ways to improve the infrastructure of the Emergency Water Supply Facility and hear input from community members.
“I support expanded public participation in district affairs whereby the ratepayers and taxpayers may attend forums where they may bring innovative ideas and possible solutions to the attention of the board for possible review and action,” Perry wrote via email. “Cambria is inhabited by a population of highly skilled people who have demonstrated interest and capability in formulating excellent ideas about how we can best live with and within the limits of our natural resources.”
A Cambria CSD director candidate forum is tentatively set for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Joslyn Recreation Center, 950 Main St. in Cambria.
In Los Osos, two four-year term seats are up for grabs. Two new candidates and two incumbents are in the running.
Stephen Best, a 22-year Los Osos resident and former parks and recreation committee member, said the main reason he is running for a seat on the board is his desire to make everyone’s voices heard.
Best said he wants to use his 25 years of experience in building geothermal heating and cooling systems and solar power to build an aquatic center, create a multi-purpose trail through town and address water concerns. He would also like to enhance Los Osos’ parks and recreation offerings.
Mathew Fourcroy, a Cal Poly alumnus and licensed engineer, said that, if elected, he also wants to improve parks and recreation in Los Osos, stating that the area lacks park space and facilities. His other goals are to improve cohesion and efficiency on the CSD board of directors and ensure the CSD has more community engagement.
“(My wife and I) understand the importance of maintaining the small-town character of Los Osos while helping guide its future,” Fourcroy wrote in an email.
Incumbent Chuck Cesena, who currently serves as chair of the CSD’s Utility Advisory Committee, has served nearly nine years as a board director. He said he’s running for re-election because he wants to ensure the community is accurately informed prior to making decisions.
Cesena worked as an environmental planner for Caltrans for 36 years. He’s the vice-chair of the Emergency Services Committee and the alternate representative to the Basin Management Committee.
The fourth candidate, Craig Baltimore, did not return several requests for comment. Baltimore is an architectural engineering professor at Cal Poly and has served as a board director before, according to his website.
In addition to the two seats, a third open seat for a two-year term will be appointed to incumbent Christine Womack, who ran for the position unopposed.
Womack, who has lived in Los Osos for more than 10 years, is the former president of South Bay Women’s Network. Prior to becoming a board director, she served on the CSD’s Finance Advisory Committee.
“I will strive to keep water rates low, but just high enough to be able to buy equipment and fix problems as they arise,” Womack wrote via email.
San Simeon’s three seats — two four-year terms and one two-year term — will be appointed to Julia Greenan-Stanert, John Russell and Gwen Kellas, respectively.
“We are a diverse, productive team that wants the very best for everyone that lives in our small community,” Kellas wrote in an email.
Kellas, an incumbent, was appointed as an interim board director 10 months ago; she will continue to serve on the board for a two-year term.
Kellas moved to the area in 2012. Over the years, she has volunteered at Pacific Wildlife Care and the Coastal Discovery Center. She has also taken community emergency response training.
Kellas said she worked as a project manager for 21 years and hopes to use her experience to benefit the board.
Greenan-Stanert, also an incumbent, was appointed as an interim board director in May. She will serve on the board for another four years.
Greenan-Stanert was a business owner for more than 35 years and founded the San Simeon Press. Over the past year, she has worked with several committees to improve pedestrian safety concerns, reduce light pollution and address overflowing dumpsters.
Her primary focus, she said, is to solve San Simeon’s future water needs.
Another incumbent, Russell, did not return a request for comment.
According to the San Simeon CSD website, Russell served in the U.S. Army and moved to San Simeon in 2003.
Russell served as a CSD board director from 2004 to 2011, but resigned after disagreements with the direction of the board. However, he rejoined the board in 2016 and will serve for another four years.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article did not have statements from candidate Dennis Perry. It has been updated with his reasons fro running for a seat on Cambria’s CSD Board of Directors.
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