Since there doesn't seem to be much news coverage of the Conservancy District Election, and the procedures for the June 2 election don't seem to be very voter-friendly, with the franchise limited to property owners, multiple identification requirements, and a new obligation to have absentee applications notarized … I'm going to try and help with this update.
Adrian Oglesby Steals the Shows at Conservancy Forums
There were two candidate forums for the upcoming Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District election in Albuquerque's Valley this week, one in the North and one in the South. This little known, off-year, off-season election has drawn few voters in the past (about 5% of those eligible)-- in spite of the growing importance of the irrigation district to both the state and the city.
But that may change this year, with controversies swirling about double dipping on the part of the district's chief engineer, Subbas Shah, and a full crop of bills introduced this winter by disgruntled legislators who represent the same area the District covers in the middle Rio Grande Valley.
Position 3 and Position 4, now held, respectively, by water broker Bill Turner and large-scale farmer Jim Roberts, are being contested. In position 3, Karen Dunning, a former community planner for the city, is running against Bill Turner, who prides himself in suing the district-and many others. "I've dropped more law suits on these issues than any other person," Turner told the North Valley crowd. He said he had just come from a deposition and was going to "drop" another lawsuit in early June.
Dunning wants non-irrigators to see more benefits for their property tax dollars and says that they should be getting more than bickering and bad publicity, given that they account for 68% of the property tax revenue which forms the basis of the multi-county district. Among the benefits, she wants to see more professionalism, collaboration and attention paid to appropriate recreation. Dunning walks the ditches of the North Valley and often rides her bike to work along the bosque trail.
But the one candidate who impressed me was young Adrian Oglesby, whose knowledge of water issues, practical ideas and vision for the District gave me real hope for the future of the district, which often seems so bound to the past.
Adrian is now a water lawyer with the Nature Conservancy and has lots of experience with the Interstate Stream Commission, the NM Riparian Council, river recovery and planning efforts. It shows.
Here's an actual quote from him that seems so right.
"The public has lost faith in the Conservancy District to provide real benefits to its ratepayers… and nice statements don't replace actions.," he said. " MRGCD should step up to its responsibilities and not shy away from them, whether they be maintaining trails or keeping up ditches on Pueblo lands. The District is the steward of precious resources that are increasingly at risk: Farms, Water and Nature. The Conservancy District should be visionary, not reactionary."
Here are more quotes…
"The Conservancy District should be a service oriented organization. They need to invest in their own resources -- more ditch riders and better training."
"They need to educate people on whether they live on a community ditch, a conservancy drain or a private ditch so they know how to proceed when there is a problem."
To contribute, or for more information on Adrian go to www.ProtectTheValley.com.
To volunteer or contribute to Karen Dunning, call 898-7493 or write 1004 Ortega Rd.NW Alb. NM 87140
Election Day is Tuesday June 2, 2009
Election Day is Tuesday June 2, 2009
www.mrgcd.com- the election section. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.