Incumbents Albert Stuebing and Betty Linvill, along with first-time candidate Michael Malekos, almost walked onto the Board of Directors of the Mid-Peninsula Water District in an uncontested race this November until three-time Belmont mayor Dave Warden decided to not seek another term on the council he currently serves, opting instead to file papers for a run on the water board just as the filing deadline was set to expire.
The four are now seeking three open seats on the water board, which serves mostly Belmont, as longtime director David Altscher is not seeking re-election after first joining the board in 1999.
Altscher actually encouraged Malekos to run for the board, Malekos told the Daily Journal.
Malekos is a former Belmont finance commissioner and has been in charge of putting together the Belmont Greek Festival at the Church of the Holy Cross the past few years. He is retired after working as a utility executive and financial services professional and has lived in Belmont for 18 years. Malekos applied for a seat on the board in 2009 after one of the directors abruptly retired but eventually lost the seat to Stuebing, who was appointed by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to serve the district.
Warden is leaving the City Council after serving on it for 12 years. He told the Daily Journal that a crop of good candidates in the race for council this year made him think it was a good time to step down. With the water district suffering from a recent embezzlement scandal, however, and with the district hiring a new general manager, Warden said that a run for the water board might bring it a little more attention since most of its elections are often uncontested, with candidates having to do little campaigning or public outreach to win a seat on the board.
Warden is also seeking answers as to how one of the water district’s former employees was able to embezzle more than $200,000 from the special tax district that has an annual $9 million budget and more than $17 million in assets.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office filed charges last week against Catherine Abou-Remeleh, 53, with crimes that carry up to eight years in prison including theft of government funds over $200,000, identity theft and an allegation of committing aggravated white collar crime.
Prosecutors began looking at Abou-Remeleh after the district turned over its suspicions but was waiting on the results of a lengthy forensic audit before filing charges, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Friday.
Linvill told the Daily Journal that financial controls have already been put in place that should prevent future fraud at the special tax district.
Linvill’s main mission while serving the board is to make sure the “best water in the nation” gets delivered to Belmont residents at a reasonable rate.
“Our service levels are good and our clients are happy,” said Linvill, who has lived in Belmont since 1998.
The district has hired a new auditor, the new general manager is top-notch and everybody’s clicking, Linvill said.
The district hired Tammy Rudock earlier this year to replace the retired Paul Regan as general manager and morale is up for its 18 employees, Stuebing said.
“We have some of the best financial controls of any special district,” Stuebing said.
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