‘Even a moderate position on Chromium 6 is that it must be taken seriously.’ D G Cook

DESERT HOT SPRINGS — D G Cook, a planning commissioner from Desert Hot Springs, is one of two qualified candidates vying for the Division 3 seat on the Desert Water Agency Board of Directors.

The other candidate is Jeff Bowman, a retired spa owner from Desert Hot Springs.

Uken Report (UR) reached out to both candidates with a series of questions to help voters get to know them better.

Following are Cook’s responses.

UR: Who or what motivated you to run for the MSWD Board of Directors?

D.G. Cook: First, my opponent has a history of voting to raise water and sewer rates. He doubled rates when he served on the MSWD board. When he ran for reelection, he came in a very distant third. Voters remembered and did not reelect him. People struggling with inflation and these troubled economic times don’t need more rate increases.

Also concerning is talk by those associated with Mission Springs Water District, including my opponent, that think the upcoming election is about MSWD taking over Desert Water Agency. That thinking has already cost ratepayers millions in legal fees. This election is not a grudge match. That is not the proper motivation for a seat on the Desert Water Agency Board.

UR: If elected, what knowledge, experience and/or expertise would you bring to the role?

D.G. Cook: My entire career has been keeping people focused on company goals. Most often, the number one goal is customer service. My goal will be to ensure that everyone at Desert Water Agency from operations to Chairman of the Board remain focused on goal number one, the customer. It sounds simple but it is a key guiding principle: does this thing we are considering best serve the interests of our water customers?

UR: What makes you a better fit than your opponent for the position?

D.G. Cook: It is hard to say this gently. My opponent is not long in compassion for the needs to ratepayers. His time at MSWD was harsh and dismissive of legitimate water customer concerns. He is an agency man. Any concern raised by the public that pointed to an agency misstep was treated by my opponent as an attack. Public questioning of a water district is not something to be treated with arrogance. My role on the Board will not be as the agency’s agent. I plan to be a liaison between the agency and the water customers I serve. I will be there to represent them.

UR: Is the DWA doing enough in the area of conservation? Why or why not? If not, what do you believe should be done?

D.G. Cook: We have no choice but to conserve. We are in a severe drought. But we have choices on how to go about it. Desert Water Agency programs I have reviewed are effective. We need to make sure we help our water customers ease customers into conservation targets – without fines. On the other hand, as other communities have found out, conservation goals are often ignored by wealthy customers that seem to say, “That is okay… just fine me.” Desert Water Agency must have the ability to cut back or turn off water of such gross water abusers.

UR: What is your No.1 priority if elected and how will you achieve it knowing you’re only one vote on the board?

D.G. Cook: My number one priority is to make sure the best interests of the customers are represented. We all know there are outside influences that will try to pull the Board in directions that are not in the best interests of the water district customers. My priority is to protect against that. Also, a priority is to remain professional in my relations with fellow Board members, even if we disagree on an issue. Decorum must be maintained. And, I am hearing that some candidates in this election are dismissing the seriousness of Chromium 6 in our drinking water. Some have publicly stated it is of zero concern. That goes against all science. Even a moderate position on Chromium 6 is that it must be taken seriously. Water quality will be a priority goal with me.

UR: Do you believe DWA and MSWD should consolidate?

D.G. Cook: Mission Springs Water District has very high negatives among its customers. I’m sure many of their customers would say yes, please take over MSWD. And when I see how much MSWD has cost Desert Water Agency in legal bills with the lawsuits initiated by MSWD, it is tempting to say MSWD and Desert Water Agency need to be consolidated. However, I serve to meet the needs of Desert Water Agency customers and it may not be in the best interest of those customers to take on the problems at MSWD. There would certainly need to be an engineer’s assessment of MSWD’s infrastructure, especially its water lines that have a history of frequent breaks and failure. I’d need to see an engineer’s assessment before I could answer that question.






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