Fluoride Action Network

Ventura County: 3 candidates vying for Division 2 board seat debate water issues

Source: Ventura County Star | Correspondent
Posted on October 7th, 2008

Three candidates are running in the Nov. 4 election for a seat on the board of directors of the Calleguas Municipal Water District, which supplies water for 600,000 residents in Ventura County east of the Santa Clara River.

The district, which has its headquarters on Olsen Road in Thousand Oaks, is governed by an elected board with five members, each representing a geographic division of the district. The seat being contested in this race represents Division 2, which includes the Thousand Oaks area.

The district’s primary job is importing and distributing water from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Water agencies are facing a situation that Eric Bergh, the Calleguas manager of resources, and other officials have described as a “crisis” due to tight supplies of water due to drought and other factors.

Incumbent Jeffrey Borenstein is running for re-election to the post he has held since 1992.

He says the major issues facing the district are ensuring a reliable water supply and contingency plans in the event of an interruption in supply due to an earthquake.

‘Facing challenging times’

Borenstein, 54, is a certified public accountant, and before being elected to the board, he served as the district’s outside independent auditor for 12 years.

“We’re facing challenging times bringing a reliable water source to this area,” he said. “I think we have done a very good job so far trying to make sure we fulfill our mission.”

Borenstein said his financial experience gives him “a unique perspective.”

“There have been recent issues with our investment portfolio, and we need to try and keep that money safe, liquid and accessible for funding projects,” he said. “With my financial background, I bring something that is helpful.”

Environmental scientist Scott Quady says he entered the campaign because he “wants to look beyond the current drought and look at ways of ensuring low water use generally.”

‘Get the issues talked about’

Quady, who has 30 years of experience in wastewater systems, said conservation, energy use and ecosystem management are the big issues.

“When I entered the race, Jeff Borenstein was unopposed, and so I wanted to get the issues talked about whether or not I end up being elected,” Quady said.

Quady, 54, who has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a master’s in environmental science, said that if he is elected, he will use his position on the board to make progress in efficiency and emphasize that a utility operation must also be a viable business.

He’d also like the board to become more focused on conservation and to have more outreach into the local community to promote the efficient use of water.

Small-business owner John Ecklund decided to run for the board in protest of the district’s decision to start fluoridating the water supply.

‘Not a good thing’

Ecklund said he learned about harmful effects of fluoride in the water during a speech at the Rotary Club of Conejo Valley by Calabasas resident Robert Singer, a member of the grass-roots organization Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, based in San Diego.

“I learned that fluoride in the water is not a good thing,” said Ecklund, adding that he decided to run to “make a statement.”‘

However, he said that after declaring his candidacy he was assured by incumbent Borenstein that he will support the position that fluoridation is unsafe and will try to reverse the decision if re-elected.

“Now Borenstein agrees with me; I am supporting him,” said Ecklund.

Borenstein, in an initial interview regarding the issues he’s campaigning on, did not mention fluoridation or any decision to fight it during a new term on the board.

‘He’s changing his tune’

When contacted regarding Ecklund’s endorsement, Borenstein said he has had no dealings with Ecklund and had not given any assurances regarding fluoride in the water supply, although he acknowledged having several conversations with Singer.

“Apparently now he’s changing his tune,” said Ecklund, upon hearing Borenstein’s reaction and checking with Singer about what was said in his conversations with Borenstein.

“I guess I am still running then,” Ecklund said.

Ecklund, 62, runs his own small business as a manufacturer’s representative selling electronic components.

His background is in purchasing and sales.