IID candidates face off in forums around the Valley

IID candidates for District 5 answer questions at Hidalgo Hall


(October 10, 2012. Brawley) The Hidalgo Society of Brawley, CA hosted the second IID Candidates Forum Tuesday, October 9th, at Hidalgo Hall.

 Rusty Garcia, with the Hidalgo Society, was the moderator.

Imperial County Farm Bureau, Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers, and COLAB Imperial County held a forum for IID Director Candidates Thursday, October 4th, at the new Farm Credit Services Southwest Agriculture Center  in Imperial.

Lindsey Dale, Imperial County Farm Bureau Executive Director, was the moderator.

J.P. Menvielle


Candidates for Division 2 are incumbent IID Board of Directors President John Pierre Menvielle and challenger Bruce Kuhn, land leveling contractor.

Candidates for Division 4 are incumbent Stella Altamirano Mendoza and challenger Steve Benson, water engineer and businessman.

Candidates for Division 5 are Norma Sierra Galindo, teacher, James William Horn, Jr. working person, Wally Leimgruber, business owner, Rudy J. Maldonado, self employed business person, Pompeyo Tabarez, retired sheriff’s sergeant, and Eduardo Valdez-Belmonte, public utilities director.


Bruce Kuhn

Mr. Valdez-Belmonte did not attend either forum.

The forums consisted of opening statements, questions from the hosting agencies and the public, and closing statements.  

Some of the topics of the questions included:

– The high IID upper management wages

– Liability of the mitigation of the Salton Sea under the QSA

-The need for landowner signatures for water transfers if the water is a public resource

– Campaign contributions by IID vendors and companies outside the Imperial Valley

-The dismissal of David Osais.

-Lifetime benefits for part time IID directors

The specific questions asked of the candidates enabled them to elaborate on their knowledge of the inner-workings of the business of the IID Board of Directors.



Of the candidates seeking office, two had sat on the IID board in the past, Bruce Kuhn and Rudy Maldonado. Both candidates expressed their belief that the current board and issues have not gone in the direction that they would have preferred.  

Incumbents Stella Altamirano and John Pierre Menvielle were very prepared for these are issues that they deal with by being seated directors. They defended their votes and actions as standing up for the rate payers.

Newcomers seeking posts on the IID board Norma Sierra Galindo, Pompeyo Tabarez, Wally Leimgruber, James William Horn, and Steve Benson all stated their intentions of potentially being IID directors by laying out their lifetime accomplishments and visions for what they could bring to the board.

Wally Leimgruber


Kuhn and Benson disagreed with incumbents Mendoza and Menvielle on just about every question. Kuhn and Benson both want to renegotiate the QSA and Mendoza and Menvielle feel they have the IID and the rate payers’ best interests in mind with their votes during their terms.

The IID Division 5 seat, left vacant by the resignation of Director Sanchez, is sought by 6 candidates.

Maldonado’s previous experience as an IID director may give him somewhat of an edge, but his opponents bring a lot of knowledge to the table. Leimgruber has much experience as a leader in the community, including formerly being on the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. Galindo has an intricate knowledge of the workings of the IID and the QSA. Tabarez, retired from the Sheriff’s Office, touted his administrative skills. Horn feels his business skills and law degree would give him an edge in cutting costs and waste.

Horn brought some much needed levity to the ag forum by admitting that he didn’t know who Asais was but that if he made more than a million dollars working for the IID, he would renegotiate his contract. He also stated that he could do the same job Asais does for free.

Imperial County Farm Bureau President Mark McBroom said, “I came here tonight with a preconceived idea of what I would hear for Sanchez’ seat. I was pleasantly surprised by the ideas brought forth by some of those candidates.”

“We posed questions that stuck to the issues, trying not to pit candidate against candidate,” said Garcia. “They do that on their own. Division 5 candidates seem to get along a little better.”

More debates are planned before the November 6th election.

The Desert Review posts times and dates of the debates as they are available.

The IID Board of Director seat is a powerful position in the Imperial Valley. The value of the Imperial Valley is the people, the land, and the water. The Desert Review would like to invite everyone to learn what each candidate stands for by attending upcoming debates and voting November 6th for the candidate of your choice. The future of the Imperial Valley is in your hands.

Regional Governmental Affairs Committee – Imperial Irrigation District Divisions 2 & 4 Debate
The Regional Governmental Affairs Committee of the El Centro and Brawley chambers of commerce will be hosting an Imperial Irrigation District Divisions 2 & 4 Candidates’ debate on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Imperial Irrigation District’s William Condit Auditorium.


Candidates Bruce Kuhn and John Pierre Menvielle will face each other for the Division 2 seat and Steve Benson and Stella Mendoza for the Division 4 seat in this Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors race.


The community is encouraged to attend and participate in the debate. The audience will have an opportunity to submit questions that will be directed to the candidates during the debate segment of the event.


The debate will be broadcast on KXO AM1230 & FM107 radio station. No campaign paraphernalia will be allowed in the debate venue. For more information on the debate, call the El Centro Chamber office at (760) 352-3681.



  1. Always fun to see people who buy new cars and trucks, write them off, have beach or other summer property(s), and seem to have spending money, be so concerned that someone at IID make actually earn a wage based on market forces and logic. If certain communities believe wages should be based on local conditions, then they should be making much less for their labors also.

    Just a thought.

    • Oh do you mean 3rd or 4th generation trust fund farmers,land barrons and farm bureau administrators? A good thought deserttrek.

  2. Typically narrow political agenda Farm Bureau questions without much real knowledge of the underlying problems and business issues at IID. Just small irrelevant remedial level questions like why do IID staff make so much and hour and how come you get benefits and what about our 10% special interests water? Short sighted questions and a valueless debate. The IID is a failing public business enterprise and is losing control to outside influences of what is of value to our region-autonomy, independence and self determination. How bout we up the level and value of the questions in the next debate to properly evaluate candidate qualifications and not just ask-“are you for us 10% water interests or are you against us”. The 10% special water interests need a lot less focus and influence if we are to make more progress toward fixing the IID’s business culture and preserving our region’s autonomy, independence and self determination. Why IID wages appear to be high but aren’t, based upon the disparate demographics of special district’s, is an entire separate discussion.

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