PCWD Director Joel Palmer seeks re-election

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Joel Palmer, incumbent member of the Pine Cove Water District Board of Directors. Photo by JP Crumrine

Editor’s note: Four directors for the Pine Cove Water District are on the August mail-in ballot. The terms for three — Board President Robert Hewitt, Joel Palmer and Lou Padula — expire in December. They and challenger Jeffery Kleefisch are on the ballot for four-year terms.

The fourth director, Vicki Jakubac, replaced Tim Lange, who was elected in the August 2015 election and resigned in March 2016. She is unchallenged for the final two years of Lange’s term. 

Ahead of the election on Aug. 29, the Town Crier has interviewed the four PCWD candidates. This is the final interview.

Palmer was appointed to the board in 2007. He was re-elected to new four-year terms in 2009 and 2013.

Palmer moved to Idyllwild full-time in 2001. He and his wife have had a house in Pine Cove since 1985.

The interview with Hewitt was in the July 13 issue of the Town Crier. The interviews with Padula and Kleefisch were in the July 20 edition.

What are your thoughts about the district’s goals for the next 12 months?

Replacing the old piping is a really good goal. Palmer referred to the frequent news stories from Los Angeles and other areas about pipelines breaking and creating water problems.

The increasing population demands more water, too. “We’re really in pretty good shape,” he added.

What are your thoughts about the district’s goals for the next four years?

“To continue doing what we’re doing. It’s working for us.

“The current team is really good at working together. Each of us is different but we’re a team.”

Why do you want to serve another term? What will be your contribution?

“I enjoy being a director and addressing the challenging questions from our customers and public. They keep me involved. I enjoy the people and the work with my board colleagues.

“I’m a cognitive behavior psychologist who has worked at Kaiser Permanente for 28 years. I was an administrator and manager over multiple departments. I managed people, purchased medical equipment and oversaw large budgets.

“I offer this experience — managing a large operation. Pine Cove Water is easier. But people management, capital purchasing and budget construction is the same, regardless of size.”

The state just came out of a historic drought. Do you believe PCWD can withstand another drought? Or what should the district do to mitigate the effects of another drought?

“We are prepared and our customers are prepared. They comply with managing their water better without staying in more drought-restrictive steps. I haven’t heard any negative comment about conserving water. We also offer various incentives to conserve.

“Sufficient water for consumption is critical, but we need water for protection, too. I’m also glad to see the district move some water to the edge of the community as an aid to firefighters in case a fire were moving toward or into Pine Cove.”

Water production, through May, is the greatest since 2007? Are you worried about the conservation ethic dying or leaks in the system?

“I don’t think people are conserving less. We all have to be more responsible. Pine Covers have respect for water. I don’t see needless use.

“We are just now receiving the benefits of the past winter. We had a lot of snow and it takes a while for water to seep down through the ground.

“As we lay larger pipes, we’ll need to keep an eye on the infrastructure.

“I think we should wait and see what happens. The increasing usage might encourage more drilling.”

Without the lease payments from the Rocky Point communication companies, PCWD’s budget would be in a different position. Should rates for water usage be increased and the lease payments set aside for “rainy days” or capital projects?

“With my budget background, the most important appropriation of money is to handle current operations and future operations.

“Rocky Point revenue does give us a cushion, but it is not necessary to increase water rates. I can’t remember the last rate increase. As the Pine Cove population and customer base increases, revenue will increase, too.

“We’re in good shape and a lot of kudos to Jerry and the staff,” he concluded.

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