On Nov. 3, voters will choose between three candidates running for the Division 5 board of director’s seat of the Calaveras County Water District (CCWD). Division 5 includes the communities of Milton, Jenny Lind and Rancho Calaveras.
The candidates are Jeff Davidson, Clyde Clapp and Vicky Henkle. Davidson, of Valley Springs, is the incumbent board member and a businessman. Clapp, of Valley Springs, is a former county supervisor and a retired contractor. Henkle submitted no ballot designation and did not respond to an interview request.
Calaveras Enterprise: Why did you decide to run?
Jeff Davidson: I’ve been on the board for quite awhile now, and I just found that the water district suits my interests well, and it suits my experience well. … It still keeps me interested, and primarily it’s because of some of the challenges that we have, and not just challenges, but some of our opportunities that we have that I’ve been working on very hard for a very long time. Nothing happens quickly in the water business, but my biggest thing that I want to make sure that we continue to accomplish is rebuilding our infrastructure, particularly in the Rancho Calaveras area.
Clyde Clapp: When I moved up here, I paid less than $8 a month for an unlimited amount of water. Now, we’re paying just under $60 a month just to be hooked up on the system. It’s getting out of hand.
CE: What are the biggest issues facing the district?
Davidson: We have aging infrastructure, we need to fix it, and there are no shortcuts. It’s expensive, but the water district has to last forever, and that’s something that we’re committed to address and I want to see it through. … On the district level, our biggest challenge is to try to get other sources of revenue.
Clapp: The rising price of water is one. When I was a supervisor I found out that most of the candidates, the people that are elected officials, are bought by the union. My position as being a representative is I represent the populace at large. I don’t represent the union or the workers – the union represents the workers. When I was a supervisor, we’re sitting and negotiating wages, and there’s three people – our supervisors – that have campaigns paid for by the unions. It doesn’t go well for the populace.
CE: What should be done to address these issues?
Davidson: We are trying to obtain a contract that will give us water storage at New Melones of our surplus water on the Stanislaus. We have several hundred thousand acre-feet of water rights on the Stanislaus River – some of it is pre-1914 water rights – and what we want to be able to do is in years where we have surplus – which we do every year – if we can store it in New Melones we could, hopefully, sell it to downstream agencies for irrigation or domestic supply, and that would be another income source, to take a little bit of the burden off of our standard residential and commercial ratepayers. That’s a big project, and we have been working on it for many years.
Clapp: I think that we should represent the populace and not the workers. I mean, the workers are represented by the union. If you look at the budget, the biggest part of the budget is wages. If you don’t push back on that, then you can’t really do anything. If you look at the pay structure, CCWD is one of the highest paid in the county.
CE: Why do you believe you’re the best candidate for the position?
Davidson: I think I’ve got a track record of responsible management over the course of a couple decades. … I have the endorsement of all four of my fellow board members, and SEIU 1021 just notified me that staff voted to endorse my campaign also – that’s the union of our staff at the water district. It’s important to me that staff has the faith in me to want me to continue on the job there.
Clapp: Basically, I would push back on (wage increases and rate increases). I wouldn’t just keep saying that we have to raise water rates because the contract is coming up and we have to give everybody a raise.
CE: What else would you like voters to know?
Davidson: I was president of the West Calaveras Chamber of Commerce, and we actually were the ones that organized the fireworks display at Hogan Reservoir. … I have three kids that graduated from Calaveras High who are all three in college right now. I own a construction business that works locally. I’m invested in Calaveras County, and I’m certainly there for the long haul. … I think our board right now is a good board. We are certainly concerned about rates, but we’re also concerned about reliability and quality, and you have to balance the three.
Clapp: I’ve been a long-term resident here since about ’76. And like I say, I’ve been paying the water bill before CCWD even had the water here.