DESERT HOT SPRINGS — Gerald McKenna, a retired civil engineer from Desert Hot Springs is one of two qualified candidates vying for the Division 2 seat on the Desert Water Agency Board of Directors.

The other candidate is Alfred C. Valrie, a law clerk 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 McKenna’s responses.

UR: Who or what motivated you to run for the [DWA] Board of Directors?

Gerald McKenna: My primary motivation was the DWA’s long history of neglect of the interests of DHS water customers in particular and its insensitivity to its ratepayers in general.

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

Gerald McKenna: Although citizen control of statutory districts is a time-tested and generally positive feature of American democracy, it can give rise to governing bodies that do not have the necessary expertise to run the organization they control. A common problem with governing bodies made up of individuals with no relevant expertise is that they become “captured” by the permanent staff who (selectively) advise them. The organization can then lose sight of its essential mission -serving the public/ratepayer – and it can become inward looking and self-serving.

As a retired Civil Engineer and former California General Engineering Contractor I do have an immediate grasp of the technical issues the Agency faces as the aridification of our region continues and accelerates while still rapidly gaining population. I have 50 years of construction engineering expertise. That’s 50 years more than my opponent has.

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

Gerald McKenna: The turf replacement program is beginning to ramp up, at long last. I think the incentive should be doubled. The DWA must move to tiered pricing with very low prices for a basic monthly use and rapidly rising prices for higher volume users. Water is by far the highest utility bill I have; actually, already more than my gas, electricity, phone and internet combined. More people will find themselves in this situation as time goes on. And yet, there is NO lifeline service and no low income or senior discount for water at all, but there is for electricity, gas, phone and internet. That’s crazy. More than 1 million Californians do not have drinkable water in their homes. That’s crazy too. This situation screams for action!

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

Gerald McKenna: Form an alliance of the two newly elected “DHS directors” and one other director to get on with fixing the problems I mention in the previous two answers.

UR: Do you believe DWA and MSWD should consolidate?

Gerald McKenna: Absolutely. The current situation where DHS customers pay user fees to both agencies, as well as taxes to DWA is bizarre. And MSWD has sued DWA (more than once) meaning that DHS customers pay huge legal expenses to sue DWA and also huge legal expenses to defend DWA. How can that be allowed to continue? And we have two headquarters buildings and two very highly paid General Managers. How can that be allowed to continue? Not to mention that MSWD is working on wasting a further $20 million on a new headquarters building that would not be needed. Change is coming to both Boards of Directors in November. I believe there will be an opportunity to end this nonsense by agreement and without litigation. We must try.



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