Four vying for sanitation board seats
Ballots go out in the mail this week for the 2012 Cortez Sanitation District Board of Directors election.
The four candidates running this year all come from construction and/or development backgrounds.
Three candidates are running for two four-year seats on the board, including Jim Candelaria, Don Etnier and incumbent John Stramel.
Builder/developer David Kimble is running uncontested for a two-year seat on the board. He did not return calls to the Journal seeking comment.
Stramel, 57, was recently appointed to replace Jodie Henley, who left last year. He said he has been a contractor/developer for more than 30 years, and as such has worked extensively with the district.
“If you're going to be in the community and be in those kinds of jobs, you need to be involved,” he said.
He said he believes a recent $1.3 million billing error by the city of Cortez was an honest mistake that can be easily cleared up. He hopes to have a great working relationship with the city and other local utility providers in the future.
“The more we work together, the more transparency there is in all our dealings, the better it'll work,” he said. “Because we're all serving the same people. I think it's our duty to work together and do things the best way we can to serve our common citizens.”
A former banker, businessman, builder/developer as well as VFW and American Legion Member, 62-year-old Etnier said he has experience in accounting with large budgets.
“I've been involved with the sanitation district now for about 17 years,” he said. “And I have seen the direction, not always going in the right way. I have been directly involved — obviously being a builder — with installing lines, purchasing taps. So I would certainly like to help any way I can to make it even better.”
Regarding the recent city billing error, Etnier said it would be easy to “throw stones,” but he believes it was not done intentionally.
“It's something that obviously needs to be rectified,” he said. “Systems need to be put in place that make sure this doesn't happen again.”
Etnier also said the relationship between the sanitation district and city needs to be hand-in-hand.
“The water mains and the sewer mains are all in the same streets,” he said. “The majority service the same customers. Any time there's a water leak or a sewer main problem, everything is so close together, from a maintenance standpoint, there's always going to be that close relationship.”
Owner of Candelaria Construction and retired Farmington firefighter, Candelaria, 51, said he is running for a position on the board to help the district deal with growth and change.
“As a board member I feel that the biggest part of our job is to create policy and procedures and give the manager or superintendant the tools that they need to succeed in running a business,” he said. “I deal well with people.”
Candelaria also feels the city's billing error was an honest mistake and the city has stepped forward to resolve it. He hopes to improve the relationship with the city.
“That's one of my strengths, that I am willing to work with people logically,” he said. “Any time you get two entities fighting each other, all it does is create taxpayer spending and that's not good for anybody on any side of the coin. I don't like taxes being wasted for litigation.”
Kimble, Stramel, Etnier and current board Vice President Dave Waters were plaintiffs in a 2009 lawsuit against the city of Cortez, alleging they were held to a higher standard than other builders regarding trench backfill material. The suit was later thrown out on summary judgment in U.S. District Court.
Charles Reynolds and Fred Torres are the outgoing board members.
Ballots are due by 7 p.m. May 8.
Reach Reid Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org