The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Interview With Marlene King, Santa Fe Irrigation District Candidate

Marlene King is a candidate for the Division 3 seat on the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID). She has been endorsed by all four of the current Directors who will be seated in December 2014, in addition to the endorsement of a former President of the SFID Board.

King vows to work tirelessly with fellow Board members and staff to provide safe, adequate water supplies at the lowest possible cost. She also states that cost containment starts at the top and made the personal decision to accept no per diems or benefit packages.

Division 3 of the SFID Board encompasses the Covenant and its residents will vote on who will represent them in November. King addresses four key questions in our interview.

Why should RSF residents pay close attention to this race?

Marlene-King-222x300.jpgMarlene King: Should voters return to office an incumbent receiving over a quarter of a million dollars in public funds for per diems, reimbursements and medical/dental benefits the last ten years of his twelve years in office? Mr. Ingalls received the highest payment of all Directors. The second highest was nearly eighty thousand dollars less. (District records were not readily available for the first year and a half of Mr. Ingalls’ term. I did not extrapolate that amount of per diems and benefits.)

Who will be the better leader, who will set the better example when the Board re-negotiates salary and benefits with District staff – Marlene King or the incumbent?

Should voters return to office an incumbent who announced on April 7, 2014, via a RSF Review letter to the editor, that he would not seek re-election for health reasons? Who then filed papers to run for both the RSF Community Services District (CSD) Board and the RSF Fire Protection District Board, but then withdrew those candidate papers and instead turned in papers to run for the SFID Division 3 seat on the last day to file?

Should voters return to office an incumbent who paid over $1500 to place a half page ad in the RSF Review and Solana Beach Sun imploring voters in Solana Beach to unseat his fellow Board members? Was this ad, which referred to his fellow Board members as the “ruling majority,” evidence of the incumbent’s ability to work effectively with all Board members?

Should voters return to office an incumbent who has been at the forefront of pursuing the merging of SFID into the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD)? When Stage 2 restrictions were declared, OMWD already had in place a tiered rate structure that increased their unit costs to nearly two dollars more per unit from current SFID rates. Their stage 3 rates will increase that unit price an additional dollar. Does RSF think their interests would be best protected by merging into Olivenhain Municipal Water District, a proposal championed by the incumbent?

How might the Irrigation District prepare RSF residents for the statewide drought?

MK: For a number of reasons, SFID does not have a lot of reclaimed water “purple pipe” in the ground, and studies to determine the feasibility of extending “purple pipe” do not pencil out. Regardless of whether RSF residents are better able to absorb increased tiered water rates, SFID can be at the forefront of engaging RSF residents in how we might reimagine the future appearance of our communities’ expansive landscapes. RSF property owners must be mindful of increased public debate about the “1%” consuming disproportionate amounts of water, on a per capita basis.

Google Earth makes our substantial landscapes readily accessible to any number of activist groups.

We need to devise strategies to proactively avoid bumping up into this buzz saw of public opinion. If we are lucky, and we receive a number of years of higher than average rainfall, that public debate might be delayed, but I believe it is unrealistic to believe that issue will not be enjoined.

The District website has links to San Diego Botanic Garden’s lists of drought tolerant plants, but could also be a resource for photos of beautiful, large landscapes requiring significantly reduced water use, with photos showing original installations and mature growth. SFID could explore co-sponsoring yearly lectures by renowned landscape architects to begin to reframe how the appearance of RSF landscapes might change over the next several decades.

What makes you qualified to perform the duties on the SFID Board?

MK: I have over two decades of effective, proven community service. I served for a decade on the Fairbanks Ranch CSD, which controls the wastewater treatment plant, twice as President. District representative to the County Water Authority’s reclaimed water advisory group, W.A.R.A.C. Member, San Dieguito Basin Task Force, investigating the capability and capacity of the San Dieguito River Basin to serve as a storage basin for imported water. Chaired the CSD Plant Upgrade design group.

I am the current President of the Fairbanks Ranch Association, in addition to twice chairing the House & Grounds Committee, and serving on the Security Committee. Received my undergraduate degree from UC San Diego (high honors); Masters Degree from Stanford University. Professionally, I retired as the Director of Residence (boarding division) at the Bishop’s Schools in La Jolla.

What is one thing the SFID Board can improve?

MK: Continue to work effectively to engage district customers in the board process. At their August meeting, the Board discussed occasionally holding evening board meetings, to make it more convenient for ratepayers to attend and address the Board. Outside consultants are currently working on the Cost of Service study, which will no doubt lead to a re-examination of water rates.

The Board and District staff need to create an environment conducive to more ratepayers taking the opportunity to address the board at significant public hearings involving the budget and rate schedules. The District could also consider holding public workshops prior to the adoption of budget and rate schedules, thereby allowing a more efficient opportunity for public remarks to be considered and incorporated into the decision-making process.

We encourage all candidates in Rancho Santa Fe races to submit their own articles. Please contact us if you wish to participate.