Water races

This weekend I wrote a story about the motivations of local candidates to get on water boards. Of the candidates I spoke to, each said that they have a desire to give back to the community and they are interested in water.

Others were a little more skeptical. Some said these candidates likely want to advance their political careers. The stipends, travel allowances and medical benefits don’t hurt either.

Resumes of current candidates for the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and the Upper San Gabriel Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Three Valleys and Central Basin municipal water districts include former assemblymen, school board members and council members.

Upper District candidates Trevino served on the Central Basin Water District, and Clarence Wong served on the WRD board. Trevino resigned in 2003, and Wong ran but failed to win a second term.

Former Assemblyman Ed Chavez ran unsuccessfully in 2007 for the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees, and is now running for Upper District. So far, he has raised nothing for the water race, although records show that he loaned himself $14,000 for the school board race.

He could transfer the money from that committee to his current run, according to state campaign finance laws.

Central Basin candidate Phillip Hawkins, who has $22,766 in his coffers, is a former one-term assemblyman who has been on the board since 2000.

Ed Vasquez, also running for a seat on the Central Basin board, is a former Montebello councilman. Vasquez raised $18,904, according to reports. He is married to current Montebello Councilwoman Rosie Vasquez.

These obscure boards are rarely noticed by voters but are in charge of budgets that often are larger than those in our city government’s. Plus, these boards are responsible for managing for a vital, declining resource.

One aspect that the story doesn’t get into is where the money is coming from. The story was already long enough, and I figured the money trail will be worth a story of its own. Look for that later this week.