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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Special District

Alameda County Water DistrictCandidate for Director

Photo of James Gunther

James Gunther

Director, Alameda County Water District
50,612 votes (26.05%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Continue to ensure a safe, clean, and reliable water supply at a reasonable price.
  • Complete the establishment of a process to assist low and fixed income with their payment for their water bills simliar to other LifeLIne rate programs.
  • Ensure the programs to upgrade the aging infrastructure continue.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Director, Alameda County Water District
Supervisor, Transit America Services Inc. (2012–current)
Director, Alameda County Water District — Elected position (1995–current)
Supervisor, Amtrak (1997–2012)
Facility Supervisor, Smith Environmental Inc. (1994–1995)
Officer, United States Coast Guard (1981–1993)

Education

U.C. Berkely Extension Program Certificate, Hazardous Materials Management (1993)
Unitied States Coast Guard Academy Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Ocean Engineering (1981)

Biography

My background as U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate with a degree in Ocean Engineering,  a certificate in Hazardous Material Management , U.C. Berkeley Extension, a  Professional Engineer’s license, twelve years  of service  as a Coast Guard engineering officer and my present job as a Supervisor on the Caltrain Commuter Rail System, provide me the skills,  knowledge, experience and foresight necessary for this position.   During my time serving as a Director, we have built the 10MGD Desalinization Plant in Newark providing us with a new local supply.  We rehabilitated the Quarry Lakes Recharge facility and worked with East Bay Regional Parks for its completion as a new park.  We have performed numerous upgrades to our treatment plant and well fields and established a long-term pipeline replacement program.  We have hardened all of our Hayward Fault major pipe crossings.  Faced with a steelhead fish habitat issue on the Alameda Creek, rather than submitting a court challenge jeopardizing our local water supply, I  promoted a proactive approach working with other government agencies to make the habitat viable.  We were one of the first Agencies to enter into Ground Water Banking agreements for additional dry year supplies.  We utilized our AAA bond rating to secure funds for capital improvement projects which otherwise would have had lengthy deferrals.  Despite severe drought conditions, with your help and the District’s prior good planning, we never had to resort to rationing water.  The future remains challenging but with good direction, we will be solid and strong.  I commit to you my continued promise to provide a safe, reliable, high quality water supply at a fair price. 

Who supports this candidate?

Elected Officials (3)

  • Judy Huang, Director, Alameda County Water District
  • Paul Sethy, Director, Alameda County Water District
  • Martin Koller, Director, Alameda County Water District

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark, Union City (3)

How strong/weak is ACWD’s financial position?
Answer from James Gunther:

The financial position of ACWD is strong.  The District has achieved a AAA Bond rating and has continually recieved excellent audits and reviews.  The drought had a major impact but we will get through that, partly because of previous good planning, as well as through hard work by staff to control expenses.  We have made several changes to our rate structure and have had multiple workshops to address future financial needs and rate structure.

What is your vision for providing adequate water for future needs if climate change affects the district’s present method of obtaining water?
Answer from James Gunther:

I always say Reliabilty is the most important factor in our water supply.  The District has an excellent history of planning for our water supply.  Just since I have been on the Board we have reconditioned our recharge facility, lead the way to require San Francisco to strenthen the Hetch Hetchy Water system, built the Desal Plant in Newark and Upgraded its capacity, and were first in on the Ground Water Banking Programs in the Valley, to name a few programs.  Climate change can and will most likely have an effect on our supplies.  The District Staff has extensively studied the impacts now for several years, but tangible data and forecast are still conjecture. We have looked at the use of Recycled Water and as recently as July presented the possiblity for the use at a Board Meeting, part of a series of water supply studies looking at the economics and gains for the District of various water supply programs. 

What is your plan to deal with unfunded liabilities?
Answer from James Gunther:

The District has a long term plan to payoff its unfunded liabilities and is paying for all present liabilities now.  We have made accelerated payments towards the unfunded liabilities but were forced to stop because of the drought financial concerns.  The District Financial statements show the unfunded liabilities, and in all of our rate workshops we discuss possible measures for early payoff.  The main question is, not do we payoff the unfunded liabilities, but rather how quickly do we pay them.  Unfunded liabilities are not only faced by ACWD but almost all government agencies.  My support is for a plan that will pay the liabilities down in a reasonable time frame rather than a rapid payoff at the Rate Payer expense.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

A Director at the Alameda County Water District represents all the residents, businesses, and rate payers of the Tri-City District.  We may not always agree but as a Director we have a reasonsibilty to Listen, and Consider the views of Everyone when making the policies for the present and future of the District.  We must also ensure that when setting those policies we do not harm our future just to look good today. 

We must remember water supply reliabilty is number one, our water can be the Cheapest and the of the Highest Quality but if there isn't any then it is then the price and quality mean nothing.  Having served in the U.S. Coast Guard I know what it is like to not have water and I commit to all the people of the Tri-City area that as long as I am a Director I will work to ensure they never have to experience that.

Candidate Contact Info

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