Most people think of a municipal water agency only when they get their bill, or when the spigot runs dry. But for the Mid-Peninsula Water District, there has been interest because of a recent case of alleged embezzlement by a former district employee and questions about the Board of Directors’ oversight of its finances.
Though there have been other instances of embezzlement in small special districts, this situation appears to be isolated. The district is moving on with better controls and a new general manager. Still, there is something to be said for better oversight and new ideas.
Belmont Councilman Dave Warden decided to throw his hat into the ring when he heard there might not be a contested election for the three open seats. Warden is known as a stickler for details who is definitely not afraid of asking questions. He would like to see more robust financial reporting and an exploration of shared services. A primary target for a partnership would be the city of Belmont, according to Warden, since the district primarily serves that city. However, that is one option among many that could be explored. Warden is a great match for this district at this time and would ensure there are proper checks in place to ensure embezzlement never happens again and that the district looks at ways to save money and continue to provide water at a good rate for its customers.
Of the incumbents, Al Stuebing is a solid choice. He recognizes the horrible nature of the alleged embezzlement and is leading the charge in making sure proper controls are in place. He has an easy nature, but firm grasp on the possible paths the district could take to ensure quality service and low rates. He is an obvious choice to return to the board.
Challenger Mike Malekos has a good amount of utility experience through Pacific Gas and Electric and has the proper emphasis on maintaining low rates and exploring a merger with a larger water agency to achieve better economies of scale.
The Mid-Peninsula Water District is obviously in a transitional period with an embezzlement scandal, new management and opportunities to explore shared services with other agencies. To achieve fiscal stability, it needs proper oversight and energetic members of its Board of Directors. Of the candidates, we highly recommend Warden but also recommend Stuebing and Malekos.