Today, after considerable and prayerful thought, I am announcing my candidacy for director at the Imperial Irrigation District.

Ninety years ago this year, the Boulder Canyon Project Act was passed by the United States Congress. That bill was authored by Congressman Phil D. Swing, a personal hero of mine and a former General Counsel at the Imperial Irrigation District, who played an immense role in the formation of the District and the advancement of the Imperial Valley.

The Boulder Canyon Project Act forever changed the landscape of the American Southwest. As inscribed on a monument at the Hoover Dam, the principal creation of the Act, the efforts of Swing and others were “inspired by a vision of lonely lands made fruitful”, “whose genius and labor made that vision a reality.”

Our own lonely lands were best described by Harold Bell Wright, who wrote, “... the Desert waited, silent and hot and fierce in its desolation, holding its treasures under the seal of death against the coming of the strong ones; waited until the man-making forces that wrought through those long ages should have done their work; waited for this age.”

The desert was transformed by the vision of reclaiming this desolate desert into a garden, accepting people from all nations, across the United States, India, Switzerland, Greece, and the world between to take part in that great effort to make this lonely land fruitful. My great-grandfather was among those migrants — himself penniless while hitching a ride west to California on a freight train fleeing the effects of the Dust Bowl during the height of the Depression, seeking opportunity in Imperial Valley.

How was this possible? Water and vision. The pioneers of Imperial Valley were restless — they took one of the most arid and forbidding areas in the world and turned it into one of the most agriculturally productive by taming the wild Colorado River with the Hoover Dam and diverting its calmed waters to the Imperial Valley via the 80 mile All-American Canal dug with mules and Fresno scrapers; this after battling the raging Colorado River for two years as the “menace” flooded the Valley, creating the Salton Sea.

Generations have enjoyed the fruits of these pioneers’ efforts — each and every one of us owes a debt of gratitude to those before us who created the Imperial Valley through sweat, toil, vision, and water.

Today, I seek to repay that debt and dedicate my work to not just the protection of the great works of pioneers for generations to come, but to inspire a vision for even greater things for our Valley.

Dalip Singh Saund, another hero of mine, was the first Asian-American member of Congress, himself a native of India and an immigrant to the United States, who chose to settle and farm in Westmorland. He endured great discrimination at a time when Asians were excluded from American citizenship and land ownership. Despite this, his patriotism and service to the Valley were unwavering. As he ultimately ran for Congress, he was fond of saying, “I am not running against anybody; all I’m asking for is [the opportunity to serve] and it’s up to you to judge whether I deserve your support or not.”

Like Saund, I am not running against anybody — I feel compelled to serve this Valley in a role I have been prepared to give back in. To protect what we have been so richly given, improve it for future generations, and through vision and work sow the seeds for fruit we may not even get to enjoy ourselves.

The core claim in my campaign is “Water is Life.” Without it, this Valley has nothing. We return to the silent, hot, and fierce desolation that Wright wrote about over a century ago. To protect our Valley’s future, we must have a vision for its future and work tirelessly and uncompromisingly to ensure our Valley’s water stays in our Valley.

I want to thank all those that have helped to make this campaign possible, who pledge their time, hands, and hearts to this shared effort to protect and improve our Imperial Valley. I look forward to meeting and befriending as many members of the community as possible, wearing out shoe leather and sleepless nights in this effort. I look forward to the challenge of the work ahead and the opportunity to serve.

(1) comment

IV Business

Congratulations on your decision to run, Brooks. Serving on the IID Board is a very important job for whomever is elected. At only ~23, you could end up being the youngest director ever to serve in that capacity. Which brings to mind some of the previous words you yourself penned. It was but two years ago you wrote a lengthy Op-Ed piece in this very publication regarding the need for experience to serve on the IID Board. You said "A sharp and well-seasoned Director must also demonstrate a wealth of work and life experience. Ample experience is acquired only after years of diverse private and or public employment.” In the same letter, you later stated "The IID and the public have benefitted from the leadership of individuals who understood that governing this vital agency required immense experience, knowledge, self-sacrifice, and willingness to do often unpleasant and thankless work.” Perhaps you’ve changed your mind about some of these points or maybe you feel they don't apply to Stanford grads. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

What I’m most confused about though is that I see you're running for a seat representing El Centro and Heber, as well as the Westernmost portions of Imperial County. That being Division 2, which Bruce Kuhn currently resides in and represents. You are a Brawley native and resident, as-is your family. That’s no secret in this Valley. You write passionate Op-Eds in the Desert Review concerning Brawley matters. You also take time to speak at Brawley City Council meetings concerning issues you care about for the community you live in. In fact, a few months ago in April of 2019, you’re quoted in the Desert Review as follows: "Brawley resident Brooks Hamby suggested the city has “an unstable growth model and developer handouts are responsible for the city’s lack of available funds to invest in our public safety officers,” he said in his prepared statement.” Brawley resident? Furthermore, you were appointed just this year by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors to serve on the North End Community Advisory Committee (AKA Northend Action Council) through 2021. You list your residence on the application as Division 4 - that being Ryan Kelley’s district, which I understand is in Brawley.

At what point did you move to El Centro and decide to run for a seat outside your home town? Or maybe it’s the other way around? I’m sure you’re aware there’s a member of the local Board of Education who has been indicted for evidently living outside the district she ran to represent. I’d hate to see that happen to a young man just getting started, like yourself. I’m pleased to see you being so active in the community, but you’re running for the wrong division. Even if the IID board ultimately serves the entire County, the seats are intended to provide a voice for each division. When Mr. Hanks' term is up, you’re a natural to run for division 3 - in Brawley. By then you’ll also have had some more time to acquire that valuable experience you speak so highly of.

Best wishes,

Concerned Voter

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