Last Tuesday, the four sitting Fern Valley Water District directors interviewed two candidates for Jim Gates’ vacated position in separate interviews through Zoom.
Both candidates received thorough questioning from the directors, and both responded confidently and impressed all four directors.
Ultimately, the board chose Jon Brown, a mostly local resident and former civil engineer, as he works out of his Saunders Meadow home, over Carol Jeffcoate, a part-time Fern Valley resident who lives in Long Beach and who is a PhD in corrosion engineering and is a materials engineer in the aerospace industry. She is on the Hill about two days a month.
Whomever they chose, President Richard Schnetzer laughed, “… we’ll end up with three engineers on the board.”
Brown will serve until Gates’ term ends on Dec. 31 2021, and the board will need to reconsider his appointment.
Brown’s family has owned property in Saunders Meadow for 40 years. He lived on and off the Hill until moving here full-time in 2006.
He worked as a civil engineer in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties for 11 years in land development and some of the work involved water districts.
He mostly wanted to work remotely so he started a web/software company 15 years ago and now has seven employees.
He also served as Saunders Meadow Property Owners treasurer for four years about 10 years ago. Saunders
Meadow is annexed into FVWD.
He believes his strengths are strategic planning and finance. “I’m experienced in finance running my own business,” he told the board. That includes management, payroll, etc. Back when he was an engineer, he made cost estimates for large projects.
He said his weakness is, “I’m not a people person.”
He graduated from California State Fullerton.
His hobbies are mostly outdoors, including hiking, surfing, mountain biking and traveling. Since COVID-19, he has taken up fishkeeping and regularly monitors his fish for healthful water.
He and his wife have not traveled much lately but they enjoy spending half the year in Idyllwild and half the year abroad where they both can run their businesses remotely.
“We’ve been home consecutively for 18 months,” he told the board. “We don’t have plans to be gone for the extended future.”
All directors seemed to struggle with the decision as they also were looking forward to some diversity on the board with Jeffcoate’s application. She said she plans to retire in three to five years which gave the board some hope that she could fill a seat in the future.
She had an idea for them on tracking trends. Her biggest concern is conservation. “Communities that don’t have water can’t thrive,” she said She also is an avid hiker, being a member-at-large of the Gay and Lesbian Sierras of the Los Angeles Sierra Club.
“She’s a great candidate,” said Director Gary Erb. “I just wish she could spend more time now.”