Pleasanton voters will join their peers in Dublin and Livermore in casting ballots for three regular seats on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors, key elected positions for a local governmental agency whose decisions affect water supply, water rates and flood protection in our area.
The Zone 7 election features three incumbents (Sandy Figuers, Dick Quigley and Angela Ramirez Holmes) and two challengers (Hugh Bussell and Laurene Green) competing for a trio of available four-year terms in the March 3 primary.
After sitting down with each candidate and reviewing their campaigns, we recommend re-election of incumbent directors Ramirez Holmes, Figuers and Quigley.
A Pleasanton resident and political consultant seeking her third term in office, Ramirez Holmes has demonstrated herself as a standout leader on the seven-member board who prioritizes informed decision-making to ensure a safe and reliable water supply for the region.
An advocate for expanding Zone 7 water supply options, exploring new water storage opportunities and prudent budgeting, Ramirez Holmes has also championed important strides for Zone 7 in the areas of public transparency and accountability. Televising Zone 7 meetings, for example, might well have never happened without her strong voice.
Ramirez Holmes understands the issues, engages the stakeholders, listens to the citizens and knows how to lead on the dais.
Count Figuers in the same camp.
Seeking his seventh term overall (four in a row since 2008, preceded by 12 years on the board in the '80s and '90s), Figuers is a groundwater geologist and longtime Livermore resident whose technical expertise and institutional knowledge are vital for Zone 7 as it continues to embark on key post-drought decisions around water supply and water quality.
Figuers is well-prepared to guide Zone 7 through a critical juncture, not only for its internal water goals and those of its retailers, but in responding to new state and federal rules and regulations as well.
Experience with the local and regional water supply is our main reason for supporting Quigley's bid for a fifth consecutive term.
A longtime Pleasanton resident and retired resources manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Quigley has shown he understands the intrinsic value in a diversified supply of high-quality potable water, and he has the working knowledge of Bay Area, Delta and statewide water agencies needed to achieve goals around groundwater basin stewardship, new regional storage opportunities, renewable energy in the water treatment process and addressing contaminants.
Across the board, we prefer the strong record of service and Zone 7 experience exhibited by Ramirez Holmes, Figuers and Quigley.
Challenger Green, a water resources engineer who lives in Pleasanton, is a good candidate with a unique insight into certain water issues given her professional background. She makes strong arguments regarding PFAS contaminants and her apprehension to the concept of potable reuse.
But with only a couple of years logged on the city of Pleasanton's Committee on Energy and the Environment, Green lacks the depth of general governmental service experience, let alone Zone 7 specific experience, that we like to see from a newcomer to this sort of position.
The fifth candidate, Bussell, has even less applicable experience. A technical writer from Livermore, Bussell has been involved with boards of CrossWinds Church and UNCLE Credit Union, as well as the Alameda County Republican Party, but he has no elected or appointed tenure in local government in the Tri-Valley.
We'd encourage Bussell to seek out city committee opportunities, or the like, and then return for an election ballot. We had also hoped to hear more specifics from him on key issues facing Zone 7 in the four years ahead.
We want to offer a word of support for Michelle Smith McDonald, the appointed director who was unopposed in her bid for a special two-year term on the Zone 7 board -- and as a result, she's earned the term and won't appear on the ballot.
Smith McDonald boasts an impressive career in communications, including now for the Alameda County Office of Education, which is an important attribute as Zone 7 continues to improve its public engagement. She has hit the ground running in her first nine months on the board and is poised to make informed decisions on water quality, water supply, agency transparency and infrastructure to come.
She also serves as the lone Dublin voice on the board, which is vital for Zone 7's representatives. We look forward to watching her continue to grow as an elected leader in the Tri-Valley.