EL CENTRO-The Calexico Chamber of Commerce and other local trade associations held a forum for Supervisors and County Assessor candidates at the Imperial Irrigation District auditorium Tuesday evening.
The County Assessor candidates Robert Menvielle and Carlos Zaragoza presented first to the guests at the event. Each candidate opened with a three minute introductory statement on their qualifications for the elected office.
Menvielle spoke to supporters and guests about what made him the ‘best’ candidate for the job. “I know what needs to be done, because I am the only one who has 20 years’ experience, I have the skills to carry out the job,” said Menvielle during his introduction.
One of the questions on the forum was concerning the department revenue stream being limited since other entities are responsible for a tax collection. Zaragoza responded to the question strongly “The number one thing in this County is it is going to grow, and so is this department, it needs to grow with it.”
The expenses for the department are over $2.6 million. Also, based on the 2014 approved budget, salaries’ for the department reflect an average of over $48,000 per employee. “Although we are under staffed and limited to 32 employees, the staff is doing more than their part of work and we are operating well,” said Menvielle about the question asked on Department Revenue Stream.
Both Candidates believe that technology needs to be updated in the department, but Zaragoza was adamant about the ‘redundancy’ that is happening in the office. ”This is an ‘inbred’ office, they learn from each other,” Zaragoza said about the problems that needed to be addressed.
After the County Assessor Candidate’s spoke, the candidates for County Supervisors for District 1 Daniel F. Romero and John R. Renison along with District 5, Raymond R. Castillo and Wally Leimgruber presented their arguments for being elected. Each candidates introduced themselves during a three minute opening statement on their qualifications.
Leimgruber opened with a statement saying, “How creative do you have to be to bring in money to the Imperial County? When I go out and speak to the public what do you think comes up most? Roads! People always ask when will the county fix my road? There are 2,555 paved roads maintained and 1206 unpaved in this county, we need to make this a priority.”
A main topic of the night was Salton Sea and how the County and IID both plan on working together to maintain and restore the landmark. Castillo spoke saying, “The Salton Sea is drying up, and we can’t let it dry up. We can’t let it die, but at the same time the State doesn’t want to fund us with anything, so it is all up to us.”
Another topic of concern was the median on Austin Road, each candidate from district 1 responded to the question. Romero told the guests, “I just took a drive down Austin Road, and it is definitely a public safety issue, this is something that shouldn’t of ever happened, the whole road is a safety issue and I will assure you that if I am elected I will push forward, that it gets remedied.”
Renison reprimanded Romero “It is being remedied, because the City of Imperial has worked it out to where it will be, it should be fixed in the near future.”
Other topics the candidates discussed during the forum was preparing for problematic environmental impacts such as renewable energy and transmission. Each candidate gave a detailed statement of their position on solar development in the Imperial County and the loss of agricultural jobs and other impacts the solar development might have on the Imperial County.
All candidates opposed the placing of solar development on moderate to better agricultural fields. Each speaker expressed their stance on the solar development on lower quality soil. Romero stated “I will not support it being developed on medium soil, I will support it being developed on poorer ground.”
If you would like to attend the next Supervisor and County Assessor Candidates’ forum, sponsored by Regional Government Affairs Committee and the Calexico Chamber of Commerce, the Hidalgo Society and COLAB, the debate will be on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at the Pioneers Memorial Hospital Auditorium in Brawley at 6 pm.