Meet West Valley Water Board Candidate Anthony “Butch” Araiza

Welcome to our individual interviews with Candidates running for local elections. All candidates were given the same questions and allowed the freedom to answer as they see fit. We did not alter any of the responses so you are hearing things directly from them.

In this interview we are introducing you to Butch Araiza. Mr. Araiza is a person who has basically lived his entire life in the Rialto area given back in so many ways and has worked his entire life at West Valley Water. There are a couple of candidates that have an extensive background in providing utility services to this region and Butch Araiza is one of those candidates, enjoy.

1) Tell us about yourself where did you grow up, go to school and work before?

I was born and raised in Rialto. I was in one of the first classes to go through Boyd Elementary, and then I went on to Rialto Middle School and Eisenhower High. I’ve taken courses at Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino, and while those were important in helping me learn the science behind water distribution, my real education came on the job. I started at West Valley Water District when I was 19 years old, thinking it would be a good summer job–I went on to work there for 52 years. I started out in irrigation, working to help get water to the citrus groves that used to cover the area, and I slowly worked my way up through just about every department in the district until I reached the level of Superintendent. As Superintendent I was responsible for all field operations for several years. After that I become Assistant General Manager for 10 years before becoming the General Manager. I served as General Manager for 20 years.

2) How does your past make you a good candidate for West Valley Water Board?

I have been involved in water for almost my entire life. I’ve served in the management of the District for over 35 years. I know water. And I also know this community because I’ve been involved in it my entire life too. I’ve been a member of Rialto Rotary for over 20 years, and have served as president of the club several times. I’ve been one of the organizers of the Rialto Run Whatcha Brung car show since it began. I was a member of the Rialto Planning Commissionfor 8 years, and served as Chairman for several of those. I spent over 20 years on the board of the Friends of the Rialto Police K-9s. And finally, I was a member of the Oversight Committees for the last two school bond measures for Rialto Unified School District. Almost all of that work was as a volunteer, because I care about this community.

3) Some of you are incumbents what have you learned since being elected or appointed that you didn’t know until you sat in the elected seat?

I am not an incumbent, but I have been involved with the water board for the last 20 years. The thing that has most surprised me about recent elections is the amount of partisanship that has become a part of it. In the past we’ve had people with different viewpoints on the water board, and there have been disagreements over policy, but I never once questioned that board members were making decisions based on the well being of the district. In the past four years that has changed. Certain board members have become far too involved in the hiring and firing practices of the district, and they have taken a direct hand in managing the district by directly overruling the day-to-day decisions of district management (the people who have experience in these issues, and who are paid to make those decisions). Additionally, I have seen board members do things like initiate baseless investigations just so that they could send out negative campaign literature claiming that other candidates are “under investigation.” And, of course, those investigations are dropped as soon as the campaign is over. I would encourage voters to research these issues carefully before believing anything they receive in the mail. And I hope, that if I am elected, I can help restore an ethical water board (I know that Linda Gonzalez and Robert Bourland also share this hope which is why I have endorsed them for the other open seats).

4) How important is transparency to you? 

I believe transparency is extremely important to good governance. Many of the changes that have been made to the Board of Directors’ rules and procedures since I left management are troubling to me because I feel that they decrease transparency. I support an ethics code for the board and a return to the rules of order that existed prior to last four years.

5) Do you believe that partisan politics have a place within a water board seat?

No. A board seat is a non-partisan position meant to oversee the management of the Water District. The board is there to set overall policy for the district, approve budgets, and to make sure that the district manager is doing his or her job. Those are not partisan issues. 

6) What is your impression of the communitiesfreedom of speech?

I believe that freedom of speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. Without a free discussion of the issues no consensus or compromise could be reached, and only those with the right “opinion” would be allowed to participate–a system like that is not sustainable and it’s not good for the people. On my Facebook page you can find my direct cell phone number. I put that there because I want the people in this community to be able to speak to me directly; to voice their concerns, criticisms, and even just to talk about the district. I welcome it all. Speech is very important to me.

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ButchAraiza/

Cell Phone(909) 644-2417

7) What are your thoughts on budget surpluses? Should they be a certain percentage of the overall budget or are they even important? 

The district should not have extreme budget surpluses. Of course, in any given period of time there will be times when the district is able to get good deals or somehow decrease costs resulting in a short term budget surplus, and that’s good–it’s a sign of good management. But sustained budget surpluses are a sign that rates can be decreased. Now that is not to say that the district should not have savings. If a large natural disaster struck our community, without savings the district would have no efficient way to rebuild any infrastructure that is damaged and it would be difficult to restore service to the community without taking out expensive loans. Everyone needs a rainy day fund and the district is no different. That said, the district currently appears to be in a good financial situation and I feel confident in guaranteeing that I will not vote for any rate increases unless there is some catastrophic change in that.

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