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Election 2018: Meet the candidates for Costa Mesa Sanitary District board

Election 2018: Meet the candidates for Costa Mesa Sanitary District board
Costa Mesa Sanitary District board candidates, from left: Bob Ooten, Arlene Schafer, Mike Scheafer and David Snyder. (Courtesy Photos)

While much of the chatter surrounding next month’s elections has centered around higher-profile races for Congress, state Assembly or city councils, voters in and around Costa Mesa also will be choosing representatives of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, which provides sewer and curbside trash collection services in Costa Mesa and parts of Newport Beach and unincorporated Orange County.

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Three board seats are available, with incumbents Bob Ooten, Arlene Schafer and Mike Scheafer seeking reelection.

The sanitary district chooses its board members at large, meaning residents districtwide can vote for any candidate, regardless of where they live. However, the agency is moving to voting districts for its board elections starting in 2020, meaning each member will be chosen by voters who live in a particular area the member represents.

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The Daily Pilot sent a questionnaire to the candidates to get a better idea of who they are, why they’re running and what issues they feel are most pressing. Some responses have been edited for formatting, brevity or clarity.

Bob Ooten

Age: 77

Professional occupation: Retired. For 25 years I was responsible for the operation, maintenance and collection system of the local regional sewage treatment plants at the Orange County Sanitation District. Before that, I was a consulting civil engineer working for various firms and agencies doing planning, design and construction inspection of water and wastewater plants.

Education: Master of Science in environmental engineering from University of Kansas; Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Iowa State University

Time lived in Costa Mesa: 34 years

Neighborhood in which you live and how long you’ve lived there: Mesa Verde, 34 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Sanitary District board since 2006; California Water Environment Assn.; California State Wastewater Operator Certification Committee; National Water Environment Federation committee on privatization of wastewater systems; volunteer for Lions Club and Friends of the Library; citizens oversight committee on school bond spending for Newport-Mesa Unified School District; sustainability committee for city of Costa Mesa’s 60th anniversary

Immediate family members: Wife, daughter

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. Maintain the CMSD’s California Special Districts Assn. transparency certification to continue to promote transparency in the operations and governance of the sanitary district.

2. Remain a debt-free agency, including no unfunded pension liability debt, to keep the trash and sewer rates low.

3. Maintain prudent reserves for the district’s aging pipe and pump station rehabilitation to protect the public health while upholding quality and affordable services.

Arlene Schafer

Age: Did not answer

Professional occupation: Costa Mesa Sanitary District board member

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in executive secretarial science, University of Woodbury, Los Angeles

Time lived in Costa Mesa: 58 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: College Park, 55 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Sanitary District board since 2013; former Costa Mesa City Council and Planning Commission member; Newport Harbor Costa Mesa Lions Club; California Special Districts Assn; Local Agency Formation Commission; Independent Special Districts of Orange County; Costa Mesa Redevelopment Advisory Committee; Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce

Immediate family members: Husband Jim, three daughters

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. It is very important to keep the cost of trash and sewer services down for taxpayers and prevent funds from being diverted to other agencies.

2. I want to provide high-quality service while keeping costs down. This means maintaining the physical plant and sewer lines and budgeting for long-term maintenance.

3. It is essential to provide constant communication to the public to keep them informed of the variety of specific services available to them.

Mike Scheafer

Age: 65

Professional occupation: State Farm insurance agent

Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science; insurance teaching credential

Time lived in Costa Mesa: 61 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Mesa Verde North, 32 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Sanitary District board (current); former Costa Mesa City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission member; Lions Clubs International; Newport Harbor Costa Mesa Lions Club; Costa Mesa Senior Center; California Special Districts Risk Management Authority

Immediate family members: Wife Sandi, three sons, seven grandchildren

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. Continue to maintain affordable but adequate rates for both solid and liquid waste, taking advantage of technology for ways to lower rates.

2. Continue to achieve state-mandated recycling goals for the public. We must step up efforts in helping the public recycle green waste, household waste, etc., by providing low- or no-cost recycling services.

3. Renovation or replacement of aging wastewater systems will be critical. We must continue to be proactive in finding sewer systems areas that need improvement and replacement, and doing so with the most economical approach.

David Snyder

Age: 50

Professional occupation: Business process consultant

Education: Master of Business Administration

Time lived in Costa Mesa: 19 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Halecrest, 19 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Boy Scouts of America

Immediate family members: Wife, four children

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. The sanitary district board needs to have a clear, direct ratepayer-focused approach.

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2. The sanitary district board needs to work with other districts and the City Council to find ways of saving ratepayers money and stop spending on consultants and lawsuits.

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3. The sanitary district board needs to improve communications and financial transparency toward ratepayers.

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