I still need to contact Pat Howard for an interview if there's enough time before the election. TV30 has a video of the Candidate's Debate on their website. I thought Ed's performance wasn't his best and he agreed with me, but as Rich Halket said in a classy closing statement, "You can't make a bad choice here. These gentlemen I'm sitting with, any of them will be a good board member." That includes you too, Rich.
Scott Hayes emailed me a link to an article on Ed Duarte's run for DSRSD in the Around Dublin Blog. While I don't like the sensationalism and personal attacks used in the Around Dublin blog, I was pleased to find a link to Ed's candidate website so I could contact him. I had already left a couple of messages on his company's website, Aztec Consultants. Ed recently retired from running this business, which is why he has more time now to focus on District business.
I learned more about District business by taking the newly offered tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant yesterday (Wednesday). The District is offering quarterly tours on the second Wednesday of the first month in the quarter. The first organized tour was October 10th. The next one will be held on January 9, 2013.
The District also schedules tours for six or more if staff is available. Here's a link to information on touring the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Ten people showed up for the tour on Wednesday. We were divided up into two groups of five. The tour consisted of walking around and looking at buildings, equipment, and bacteria laden ponds invisibly consuming "dissolved organic wastes" from filtered sewage water.
Wastewater, a code name for raw sewage, goes through several processes to remove particles from the influent. The Plant Operators leading the tour described some of the larger pieces of debris pulled from the first stage of filtration. These are usually fallen tree branches, but someone tossed an old car bumper into the sewer. I have an old car bumper that I'd like to get rid of, but I promise not to throw it into a manhole.
Just remember whatever you put into the sewer or drainpipe, shows up in these guy's traps and someone has to pull it out. By the way the District offers operator training programs for anyone interested in a new career.
I remember when I first ran for DSRSD in 2004 one of the big issues was odor control at the Treatment Plant. The plant is located in Pleasanton near a residential neighborhood and a park. Renee Olsen, Community Affairs Specialist for the District, told me that the plant was there before the neighborhoods, but DSRSD made a big effort to clean up the odor problem. There is still noticeable odor but it used to be much worse. The District holds annual meetings with the Home Owners Association to keep on good terms. The next one is on October 29th.
When Mayor Bill Clarkson told me that Ed Duarte was planning to run for DSRSD, Ed's name sounded very familiar. Planning Commissioner Donna Kerger and DSRSD Director Dawn Benson might have mentioned Ed as a potential candidate too. Ed is President of the Board of Directors of the Valley Children's Museum. Dawn and Donna are also on the Board of Directors of the VCM.
That may be where I first met Ed. He told me he was at the 2006 event held in Dublin when then Mayor Janet Lockhart welcomed the Children's Museum to be part of a park planned for the Camp Parks development. The San Ramon City Council originally wanted the Children's Museum to be in the Civic Center planned in 2003, but after the Council makeup changed in 2004, the Children's Museum was dropped. Dublin wisely snatched it up and I wrote a Commentary in my original San Ramon Observer on that event.
Ed is a well-rounded guy. His engineering company, Aztec Consultants, has worked almost entirely in the public sector. He has experience doing jobs for East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD), and even one job for DSRSD. As Ed told me, "I know how those agencies operate."
I asked him how this experience would help in managing the District.
"Because of my age and years in business, and being an informed and competent negotiator, I know how to get things done because I know how to work with people. I do my homework and will ask the hard questions. I'm not afraid to say no and vote against something because the rest of the people are voting for it. I've learned how to get things done. Sometimes you have to compromise or take a hard stand. My business is one of getting things done. I think it is a very well-run District, but every agency, including DSRSD, can benefit from relevant private sector input and oversight. That's what I will bring to the table.
Ed made some great points in our phone conversation. He looks at costs from the perspective of a bidder. In order to bid on a job, Ed has to know hourly costs of labor, material, overhead, and how many hours it takes to do the job.
Ed was describing Cost Accounting and Project Management. I've been teaching Management Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Project Management for 30 years. So Ed and I are on the same wavelength. Ed knows how to keep costs under control by knowing exactly what can or cannot be done in a budget. This is the kind of experience that would be very valuable on the DSRSD Board of Directors.
Ed is holding a reception at the San Ramon Senior Center from 5 pm to 7:30 on October 17th. I shall try to stop in early. I'm attending the Art Summit at the Community Center at 7 pm. That's the same night Zone 7 will consider raising water rates, but I will have to miss that one.
Ed Duarte is the only candidate for DSRSD from San Ramon. Ed is from south San Ramon, which uses sewer service from DSRSD. Dougherty Valley gets water from DSRSD. Dublin gets both.
San Ramon has not had a Director on the Board of DSRSD for ten years. It is the Dublin SAN RAMON Services District and we should have a representative on it.
Ed told me he is adding a page to his website and plans to run as "The San Ramon" candidate. He's also preparing a page for the League of Women Voters Smart Voter website.
I warned Ed about a glitch in the Smart Voter website. It filters by County. If you enter an address in Contra Costa County (i.e. San Ramon), you will not see any links to candidates in Alameda County (i.e. Dublin) and vice versa.
The three candidates in Dublin all have Smart Voter pages, but you will not see them from a San Ramon address. Ed and I plan to notify the League of Women Voters about this to fix the Smart Voter website so we can all be smarter about the candidates for the Dublin San Ramon Services District, whether we live in Dublin or San Ramon.