CALEXICO – Five candidates for the Imperial Irrigation District’s Board of Directors, District 4, met for a debate Thursday evening at Calexico city hall where they shared their visions and objectives for the position being vacated by outgoing Director Stephen W. Benson.
The candidates are Dr. Mohamed Asiad, director of the California Association of Local Mental Health Board; Erik Ortega, a Calexico Unified School District trustee; Joong S. Kim, Calexico City mayor; Daniel Romero, former mayor for the City of Calexico; and Guillermo “Willie” Hermosillo, a Calexico businessman and former councilman.
Hermosillo began his opening statement saying he wants to represent the community while offering numerous years of knowledge and experience obtained while serving the city of Calexico.
“With the experience that I have with city government, I truly believe in my heart that I can help and represent the citizens while serving on the IID board if elected,” said Hermosillo.
Romero’s vision is to preserve the Valley’s essential resources, water, and keep energy costs affordable while continuing to improve education and serve the community.
“The numerous boards and organizations I have served on give me substantial exposure and experience in working with the complexity of serving on the Imperial Irrigation Board,” said Romero.
Kim emphasized the importance of installing solar panels in homes to lower electricity bills while promising to improve the community’s representation in the Valley.
“I’ve improved in representing the community. Democratic is to serve the community, not the community to serve the entity,” said Kim.
Ortega vowed to improve life in District 4 while focusing on maintaining low energy rates and creating internal jobs for residents while protecting the environment.
“When elected, I will work with my fellow directors in promoting clean energy and adding a Division 4 perspective to the current conversation,” said Ortega.
Asiad introduced himself as a 30-year Calexico resident with a vision of creating and improving programs to assist low income families and seniors and lowering electricity and water bills.
“I feel Calexico needs leadership and vision,” said Asiad. “As an IID Board member, I would focus on lowering electricity and water bills, and creating an IID scholarship fund for our students.”
Candidates were asked a series of questions and were given two minutes to respond to topics that included job creation, water rights, Salton Sea issues, water conservation and city representation. One specific question asked: Recognizing your responsibility for your decision in all of the IID Districts, what would you do to benefit the citizens of Calexico if elected?
In answering, Ortega stated he would consult with all of the departments within his district (District 4) and obtain their input of the city’s need before making a any decision.
Asiad proposed to establish a reachout program for the citizens of Calexico to identify the problems within the district and work with the community to avoid rate increases.
Hermosillo committed himself to keeping the residents informed of the various programs available to them within the IID.
Romero stressed the importance of decision making and said all decisions must be made to benefit the citizens in addition to relating the proper information to the public.
Kim proposed the IID pay for and install solar panels in homes within the district and lower the residents’ electricity bills.
When it came to water conservation, all candidates agreed water preservation was a priority.
All candidates said if elected, they would resign their current positions and devote themselves to their position with the IID.
The Primary Election Candidate Forums are sponsored and presented by COLAB of Imperial County, the Imperial County Farm Bureau, Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and the Brawley, El Centro and Imperial Chambers of Commerce.
Elections are scheduled for June 7.