Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

A word from the local candidates as Election Day nears

On Election Day, November 8, area voters will determine the following:

  • Which candidates will take possession of the contested open seats (Division 1 and Division 4) on the Fallbrook Public Utilities District board
  • Which candidates will seize the contested open seats (Division 2 and Division 5) on the Rainbow Municipal Water District board
  • Which candidates will occupy the two open seats on the Fallbrook Union High School District board
  • Which candidates will commandeer the two open seats on the Bonsall Unified School District board
  • Which candidates will take the two open seats on the Vallecitos School board
  • Which candidates will join or remain a member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group – there are nine Fallbrook residents vying but only eight open seats
Area voters will also help determine who represents California’s 75th State Assembly District, where Republican incumbent Marie Waldron faces Democratic challenger Andrew Masiel, Sr.

The Village News emailed a question to all the candidates in contested races and requested an answer limited to 200 words. Following are the questions and the candidates’ responses for each of the aforementioned races.

Fallbrook Public Utility District - Division 1 and Division 4

What do you believe is the most important project or accomplishment you and the board could achieve for FPUD customers by serving on the board? How can the cost of water be made more manageable for customers?

Robert Anderson, Appointed Incumbent (Division 1)

"Our most important project is to insure the completion of the Conjunctive Use Project in the Santa Margarita River that will guarantee half of Fallbrook’s future water supply to be under the control of our residents.

Today we purchase 100 percent of our water from the San Diego Water Authority and while today’s availability is sufficient (projected over the next 3 years) a continued drought could impact our future supply. Insuring future water availability is job 1!

Today we have no direct control over our water cost – the bill is the bill and we have no alternative resources.

This project will provide us the ability to control the cost of half of our annual water usage which can lead to future consumer cost savings (i.e. reducing transportation charges, service charges etc.) for the entire district.

Controlling water costs is job 2!

We now have the final approved Environmental Impact Report and we can begin to define the finished project costs (estimated at $50,000,000) and specific benefits to our district.

Control of both our water supply and the associated costs will allow Fallbrook to continue as a community we all love so much."

Al Gebhart, Incumbent (Division 1)

"I was re-elected to the FPUD Board in 2012. I am a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. I have chaired the Finance Committee for the last four years. I was able to provide leadership for the following: I went to Washington to try to secure funding for a joint project, cheaper local water supply. Currently we are working on the feasibility of the Conjunctive Use Project – cost wise. Additionally, a long-term plan for replacement of infrastructure (pipes and valves) was implemented in 2012.

I provided leadership on hiring professional money managers, and hiring a firm to develop a 10-year financial plan for the District. This will include an independent review of the books and records, financing costs of our water projects, long term plan for the operation of the district, reserve requirements, personnel needs and administrative procedures in the future. We retained a law firm with multiple specialties. We implemented an online bill pay and new financial accounting system for transparency.

This is the first time in FPUD's history that these types of programs have been put in place. All of the above will help FPUD manage itself more effectively, therefore helping its customers manage their costs."

Marilee Lowe, Real Estate Agent (Division 4)

"As a 32-year resident and businesswoman of Fallbrook, I am seeking your vote because I'm concerned about our water future and uncontrolled rising costs.

I moved to Fallbrook to raise my kids and retire here. I don't want to ever see big box stores in this peaceful village. I am for controlled growth and cheap water. I'm not so sure my opponent is on the same page. He has consistently voted for higher employee pensions and pay raises and exorbitant general manager pay hikes. Really?

I am the candidate that will demand lower water rates for agriculture, seniors, single parents and low income families that are struggling.

I support:

1) Camp Pendleton-Fallbrook water project for cheaper local water rates

2) Oppose rate hikes from Metropolitan Water and San Diego County Water Authority

3) Freeze employee pay and benefit increases until we have a stronger economy

4) I will demand a full audit of the financials and budget for transparency purposes

5) Keep our precious Santa Margarita Trail System for all of Fallbrook, Bonsall, Rainbow and De Luz to use for hiking, biking, horse riding and educational purposes.

A vote for Marilee Lowe will insure this for Fallbrook."

Don McDougal, Incumbent (Division 4)

"Fallbrook is totally dependent on imported water from Metropolitan Water District via the San Diego County Water Authority. This means we have no control on our cost of water as we have to pay what we are charged and pass this along to our ratepayers. For over 50 years we have been in litigation to receive water from the Santa Margarita River, which passes through the north end of Fallbrook and out to the ocean. We are very close to a final agreement with Camp Pendleton on the “Conjunctive Use Project”, which will allow Fallbrook to obtain 30 percent or more of its water needs from this local supply. This ultimately will fix the costs of a significant portion of our water needs.

The final approval of this project, financing and construction is the greatest priority the Board of FPUD has. In addition to this, controlling operational costs and improving efficiency in operations along with water conservation are all items that will benefit ratepayers."

Note: Jennifer De Meo, a telecommunications operator, is the sole candidate in Division 3.

Rainbow Municipal Water District – Division 2 and Division 5

What do you believe is the most important project or accomplishment you and the board could achieve for RMWD customers by serving on the board? How can the cost of water be made more manageable for customers?

Richard Bigley, Appointed Incumbent (Division 2)

"I have lived in Fallbrook for 30 years. As a previous avocado rancher, I know first-hand the severity of water shortage and the plight of growers, grove managers, nurserymen and their employees throughout North County. Nearly 80% of the ratepayers served by Rainbow Municipal Water District are agricultural users. It is incumbent on our Board to identify alternative water sources and reduce our dependence on the Metropolitan Water District.

Options being explored are alternative sources of supply, recycled water, desalination, ground water usage and capital improvements analyses of building and maintaining our own treatment plant. Waste water is currently sent to Oceanside for treatment and eventually deposited in the Pacific Ocean. Another option being discussed is the feasibility of wholesale purchase of reclaimed water from Oceanside.

A key component to making any of these alternatives successful is conservation. The San Diego County Water Authority has taken a regional approach to supply-reliability and in our continued drought awareness efforts; our Board is dedicated to strong conservation practices.

Our Board is also exploring the benefits of implementing area wide electronic metering which could greatly reduce operating costs.

I look forward to continuing to serve our District and thank you for your vote."

Claude Hayden Hamilton, Business Owner (Division 2)

"With climate change having a significant impact on water availability over the next decade, the challenge for all water boards will be the availability of water. Supply and demand will dictate the cost of this water. As a member of the board of directors of Rainbow MWD, I want to focus on two primary objectives: (1) Assuring the availability of quality water to Rainbow MWD. (2) Working with management to control the expense of delivering this water to our customers.

By focusing on expanding the sources of water and managing the cost

of delivery, customers will receive the most affordable water available, with the minimum of restrictions on its availability."

Michael Mack, Retired (Division 5)

"I believe we are at a cross roads and I would do everything possible to make sure everything that can be done is looked at to save the rate payers money. I have lived in our wonderful community of Rainbow for nearly 22 years. I have seen my meter connection fee go up over 200 percent and my water bill skyrocket to over 400 percent. And my usage of water used go down 25-35 percent.

I feel as a water board member it is my duty to make sure to research and implement any cost savings possible. Some example would be, installation of solar on buildings, pump stations, doing a salary survey on employees making sure we are in line with other districts. Just some of these ideas can save money. It may not reduce the current rates, but it will help in not having to do a rate increases.

And always making sure our rate payers receive the very best possible service and are kept informed on water district plans. I would be very honored and be accountable if I am elected to serve all of the people for the Rainbow water district position."

Dennis Sanford, Incumbent (Division 5)

"The development of a reliable and cost effective local water supply, with the objective of reducing our dependence on imported water, is becoming more important as time passes. RMWD is at the mercy of the Metropolitan Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority as it relates to the cost of water; as they increase rates, RMWD has no choice but to pass it on to the customers of RMWD.

A local water supply, either potable or recycled, would contribute greatly toward becoming less dependent on those that hold our fate in their hands. Also, continuing to streamline the operations of RMWD will also help control our costs and lessen inevitable rate increases.

There are major housing developments at work within the RMWD boundaries and consistency and stability at the Board and Staff levels is extremely important when managing the growth that is facing RMWD and North County in general. Major strides have been taken over the last few years and I look forward to continuing the efforts into the future."

Note: Harriette Helene Brazier, incumbent, is the solitary candidate in Division 1, and William E. Stewart, appointed incumbent, is the lone candidate in Division 4.

Fallbrook Union High School District Board

Name the number one problem facing the Fallbrook Union High School District and how you would correct the situation, or are already working to correct the situation?

Lee De Meo, Incumbent

"The number one problem that Fallbrook High School has faced is that, where it once was considered one of the Top High Schools around, it had fallen from this status. So the number one goal is to make Fallbrook High School the best again (along with our great Ivy and Oasis High Schools). Fallbrook's students and parents are depending this.

Our current Board is dedicated to making Fallbrook High School the finest high school in San Diego County, if not all of Southern California. In my time on the board, we have, following our innovative and dedicated superintendent’s leadership, hired exceptional, education oriented individuals to fill our other administrative positions, making our leadership team top-notch. We are innovating and we are leading for excellence for both our students and the districts' teachers and employees. We are well on the way to that number one goal of being the best and this is why I ask our wonderful citizen's of Fallbrook to help us "Stay the course" and to ask you to re-elect myself, Lee J. De Meo, and Sharon Koehler to keep our current board intact. We have only just begun!"

Sharon Koehler, Incumbent

"Fallbrook High School needs a facelift! Our 60 year-old campus has serious challenges that can only be addressed by a $45 million bond. Electrical and plumbing lines have deteriorated causing leaks and outages. Leaky roofs and windows disrupt learning. Inadequate fire and public address systems need to be replaced for student safety. Keyless entry systems are needed to increase security. Data lines need to be expanded. 21st century technology demands “smart” classrooms to facilitate instruction.

A new building housing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will allow advanced manufacturing classes, including robotics, coding, etc. to grow, giving students access to high paying careers or higher education. This building will allow many modulars to be eliminated. The last bond passed in 1994 built the PAC, new gym, library (clock tower) and classrooms. That bond will be paid off in 2019. The new bond is structured at the same rate as the old bond, $26.50 per $100,000 of assessed value, or about $106 per year on a $400,000 home, less than $9.00 per month. This new bond will not go into effect until the old bond is retired, so homeowners will see no increase in property tax. I am working hard to pass this bond."

Antonio Rafael Robles, Financial Adviser

"I am running for the Fallbrook Union High School District Board because of the lack of communication between the school administration, the community and our educators. Administration priorities and decisions directly affect parents, students, and teachers, yet they are not being heard. My plan is to represent the community on the board to improve the communication. If you are a parent, a former or current student, or teacher, ask yourself this question: When have I been asked my opinion on school issues?

I am already talking to parents, students, and teachers. School board meetings are public, but not necessarily convenient for working families. If elected, I commit to spending two or three days a week reaching out to the community with informal talks listening to what everyone has to say on the issues so that I can better represent you.

As a lifelong Fallbrook resident, and recent graduate of Fallbrook High, I will bring a younger person’s perspective to the board. I ask for your support because I am going to work hard to give the whole community a voice on the board."

Note: The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District board has two open seats and just two candidates: Lisa Masten, and Siegrid I. Stillman, both incumbent governing board members.

Bonsall Unified School District Board

Name the number one problem facing the Bonsall Unified School District and how would you correct the situation, or how you are already working towards a solution?

Erin Marie English, School Administrator

"Bonsall Unified School District is facing challenges as we address the population growth in our area. New houses directly affect student numbers. We need to maintain our exceptional learning environments while thoughtfully planning expansion at our current and future schools.

I have 27 years in education. I have been involved in creating learning environments (both at a facilities level and a curriculum design level) that meet the needs of each learner. I advocate for schools moving away from the “factory model” of learning towards personalized learning that addresses the strengths and interests of learners. Our school model was created during the industrial revolution to ensure our factories had skilled workers. At the time, our country needed to fill the factories with a skilled labor force. We have moved past the industrial revolution in our nation, but our schools have not. I advocate to create environments where students are engaged in meaningful learning experiences that directly impact their college and career experience. My job as a board trustee is to ensure we make decisions that keep us moving in the right direction while keeping our focus on our students."

Richard Olson, Incumbent

"Having been a Bonsall School Board member for the past 24 years I have a pretty good grasp on issues that have either faced the district or issues that are facing the district. Growth is the number one issue facing the district in the next four years. The new Bonsall High School, that is currently housed on the Sullivan Middle School campus, will move to the Gird Road location if the voters approve Proposition DD.

It is anticipated that, in the next four years, a total of 2,500 new homes will be built within the Bonsall District boundary. This equates to the conservative addition of another middle school and another elementary school.

Some developers are offering to build turn- key schools, at no cost to the community or the district, as part of their housing developments. Still, these schools will need staffing and we are looking at the possibility of the district doubling in size in a very short time.

The new Bonsall High School will be a community shared facility. We look forward to offering educational and athletic field programs directed at, and open to the community of Bonsall including the elder community."

Richard “Buck” Smith, Retired Superintendent/Educator

Note: Smith did not respond to emails from the Village News for this piece.

Vallecitos School Board

Name the number one problem facing Vallecitos School and how would you correct the situation?

Paul Thomas Georgantas, Retired

"Regrettably there is a disconnect between Rainbow’s electorate and the importance of our community school in developing the next generation of responsible citizens. In part the reasons are Vallecitos School is providing mandated education and nutrition services to a high percentage population of children from an immigrant agricultural workforce. This disconnect manifests itself as a lack of support in funding modalities in support of the schools infrastructure as well as a general lassitude toward the schools operations.

We can overcome these issues while improving our school legacy by being proactive and welcoming within the Rainbow community; By being very transparent with management actions and board meeting activities; by continuing to elevate success at all grade levels in core competencies; by convincing the electorate that most of the students are American born citizens deserving the respect in attaining a quality education as our forebears have.

Our school has been continuously serving the community since the 1880s and should rightfully be a cornerstone of our development activity and local pride."

Rae Lynn Heilbronn, Appointed Incumbent

Note: Heilbronn did not respond to emails from the Village News for this piece.

Michelle Lalonde, Incumbent

Note: Lalonde did not respond to emails from the Village News for this piece.

Fallbrook Community Planning Group

Some residents of Fallbrook seem to like the status quo and are against development or things that would attract more people to the town. Others would like to see the town "keep up with the times" and bring in stores or events that would keep people in town and bring more visitors to Fallbrook. Where do you fall and why?

Richard Billburg, California State Employee

"My family moved to Fallbrook over 10 years ago, because of its rural appeal and Main Street charm. Growth is inevitable, in evidence are the Campus Point development, east of Interstate 15 and the development project South of Pala Mesa Resort. But growth, well managed and intelligently thought out, is good for any community.

Currently Fallbrook’s infrastructure is incapable of handling rapid and voluminous growth. But with community planning and foresight, growth of our Village can proceed. The residents of Fallbrook have great pride in our community, and would be unreceptive to major growth.

I believe that our immediate concerns fall on our lack of parkland and sporting facilities. As well as the upkeep and maintenance of the ones that we currently enjoy. I believe our long-time residents deserve the community they bought into.

I also feel that land/property owners have a right to develop their assets as well. But should be done so in acceptance with the community and with respect for our beautiful village."

Lee De Meo, Incumbent

"My wife and I have found Fallbrook, with its rural charm, friendly residents and small-town America feel, a beautiful place to live. I believe in “keeping Fallbrook, Fallbrook”. I believe that we should preserve this community generally the way that it is. I believe most Fallbrookians feel the same way. So I don't believe that we should be having major development projects, with multi-family and multi-story buildings (Such as the Lilac Ranch project in Valley Center). I don't believe we need big box stores and large shopping centers.

As a conservative who believes in the US Constitution, I do believe in property rights. I believe in the rights of property owners to be able to do, within reason, what they want with their property. So I support some development in Fallbrook. I always support single family homes, as this is the basis of the American Dream. We have as part of the General Plan, the goal to keep Fallbrook's rural character. So I believe basically in two principles that guide me in planning decisions: 1) Property rights for the owner and then 2) new development and land use within reason keeping Fallbrook's rural character that we so enjoy."

Donna Gebhart, Incumbent

"As a small business owner in town, I very much would like Fallbrook to keep its rural and village atmosphere. But I also believe that we need to have some more expansion of the types of businesses that we have had in the last couple of years, like Starbucks, Panda and Chipotle which are now here in town. It is important that we try to have events that bring visitors into town as a destination, not just passing through. I have been a proponent of trails and pathways for 18 years, and our visitation to our Number 1 trail system in San Diego County brings in visitors all through the week and on weekends. It also brings hikers, families, bicyclists and equestrians to our great recreation destination. They come from San Diego, Riverside and Orange Counties on a regular basis.

It is very important that our Village offer different interests for many types of visitors, like recreation, shopping and the art center, bicycle racks for bicyclists to stop, walk around and eat lunch or dinner. If we were able to do more planned events to bring visitors into town, it would help our local restaurants and shops in the Village. I would appreciate your support!"

Karel Hanson, Retired

Note: Hanson did not respond to emails from the Village News for this piece.

William Leach, Parent

"We need a flexible approach in Fallbrook. It is imperative that we keep the rural and small town feel of our community. This is the reason many of us live here in the first place. I do not believe that any of us would advocate for turning this into Temecula.

On the other hand we as residents want access to some of the benefits that come from living in an incorporated town. As a softball coach and parent of two girls, one of the major areas of concern I see is a lack of access to recreational facilities. More needs to be done to give our sports leagues access to county facilities for practices and games. Other towns have that, the best we have is Ingold Sports Park, which charges upwards of $70 per hour to practice and play games.

We need access to local employment and to make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Fallbrook. As a candidate that has been endorsed by the San Diego Republican party, that is the approach I would take. A guarantee of the continual rural nature of Fallbrook, while advocating for the youth of our community and small businesses."

Note: Leach didn't respond the Village News' request for a photo.

James Loge, Project Manager

"As a North County resident for over 57 years, I’ve seen communities make both good and poor changes. I chose to move to Fallbrook over 13 years ago because it reminds me of “Paradise.”

I love the character of our Friendly Village and value the choices made to protect its unique character. I believe this sense of identity, purpose and community is important to our well-being and protects our quality of life, property values and local businesses. I love driving through our countryside, visiting with local neighbors or walking down Main and visiting local businesses.

My goal is to help our existing businesses flourish, smart growth for new business opportunities, and to help our Friendly Village maintain its unique identity."

Roy Moosa, Businessman

"The world around us is changing. More building is occurring at the edges of our town including large commercial centers; all will draw Fallbrook residents. If we do nothing, our downtown area will die. We have no choice but to develop ways to attract visitors to Fallbrook especially downtown. Downtown is the heart of our community and will reflect our community’s image and real estate values.

I am dedicated to the Revitalization of Fallbrook, which includes holding special events like Fallbrook Summer Nights to bring in destination businesses that will draw tourists. This does not mean make the town grow. It means make the town economically viable.

Unless we bring in the visitors, our local economy cannot sustain itself. I am working to have people visit Fallbrook and experience “The Charm of Small Town America”. Quaint shops, restaurants, cafes, parks and special events are being worked on through the organizations I am involved, including the Fallbrook Revitalization Committee, The Fallbrook Village Association, The Fallbrook Historical Society and The Fallbrook Vintage Car Club. We are working toward a common cause of revitalizing the town in which we live so that we can retain the character that attracted us here."

William O'Connor, Retired

"We need to keep an open mind as to how Fallbrook and its neighbors plan for the future. I have concerns as to traffic, safety, and how to keep the unique qualities of Fallbrook for all to enjoy.

Fallbrook, however, can not hibernate. We need a hospital, a vibrant business community, and active community organizations to improve and maintain the quality of life for all to enjoy.

A good general plan is necessary for this community; listening to all members of the community is imperative; being civil to all makes for the continuation and improvement of the "friendly village."

Jack Wood, Incumbent

"I have lived in Fallbrook over 20 years. I have been on The Fallbrook Community Planning Group for nearly 16 years and currently serve as 1st Vice Chair, as well as chairing Land Use Committee, and serving on Circulation and Design Review Committees.

Re: Where I stand on development in Fallbrook? I am a strong believer in owner rights. When land owners abide by zoning regulations and Fallbrook Community guidelines they should have the right to develop their properties. I do not like the term "smart growth" as this term is subjective. I would rather use the term "controlled growth". If we stop growth, our village will die as others have over the years. Controlled growth allows our businesses to thrive. We need new people and businesses to be a healthy community. This is uppermost in my mind as I consider new projects or businesses.

In addition to my duties on the Planning Group, I am currently President of the Fallbrook Rotary Foundation, I have served 6 1/2 years as a Senior Volunteer Sheriff and currently Administrator for that organization. In short, I have a heart for Fallbrook."

Note: The Rainbow Community Planning Group had eight seats open but only four candidates: William M. Crocker, appointed incumbent; Mark C. Divecchio, retired electrical engineer; Gary T. Drake, incumbent; and Paul Thomas Georgantas.

State Assembly 75th District

What do you identify as the top two problems facing residents of the 75th District and what are your solutions to these problems?

Andrew Masiel, Sr.-Dem, Business Consultant

“The concerns and the needs of the 75th Assembly District are quite vast. This has much to do with the diversity of the district: Urban settings of cities to light manufacturing and a vast array of commercial agriculture interests.

I would say a common interest through out the District is water quality. A fair and meaningful water management plans needs to be directed to meet the needs of the entire District.

Growth and development demands require to be addressed by each area in order to acquire and achieve smart progress. I believe this ought to be decided locally.

A universal concern is the traffic flow and congestion along Interstate 15. We need to invest in creating additional car pool lanes and Fast Track Toll Lanes. It is essential we offer incentives for commuters to utilize these options.

Economic Development for the district is crucial where jobs have been lost. Preferably employment opportunities with clean and environmentally sound industries must be generated and invited to join the communities.

I would consider it a pleasure but more importantly an honor to represent the 75th Assembly District.”

Marie Waldron-Rep, Business Owner/Assemblymember

"Our district being mostly agricultural and suburban is affected by many issues, including affects of the drought and highway and roadways needing repair, to the need for jobs, access to quality healthcare and more educational opportunities. Two issues which affect our economy are lack of water reliability and our traffic congestion.

"Agriculture is a large segment of our local economy and all businesses and our homes rely on a reliable, affordable water supply. I have worked on attaining regulatory streamlining to increase available water infrastructure while opposing water rate increases. I have supported key legislation to upgrade water infrastructure and new technologies like desalinization, reclamation and faster permitting.

"Our traffic congestion due to roadways not being upgraded have affected our economy and quality of life. I have authored Abx1-14, legislation making a formal commitment in the state budget to fund transportation improvements to $1 billion annually. This can be done with available monies but the commitment must be legislated. Building jobs closer to homes will reduce commute times which is why I support reducing regulations, taxes and fees to allow roadways to be built sooner and more cost-effectively and creating incentives for businesses to grow and locate in California."

Note: There are two openings on the Fallbrook Healthcare District board and two candidates: William Leach, parent/business owner, and Barbara A. Mroz, director of Fallbrook Healthcare District. Dr. Frank Winton is leaving the board.

Note: There are three openings on the North County Fire Protection District board and three candidates: Ruth Harris, incumbent; Bob Hoffman, private business owner; and Fred Luevano, disaster preparedness professional. Wayne Hooper and Paul Schaden are leaving the board.

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