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New candidates for Cambria seats talk water and communication

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Three newcomers are vying against incumbent Aaron Wharton for two open Cambria Community Services District spots in the November election.

Wharton is the owner of 927 Beer Company, and was appointed by the board in October of last year to fill a vacant seat. Dennis Perry, Donn Howell, and Cindy Steidel are running against him.

Perry is a licensed naturopathic practitioner in Oregon and lives in Cambria with his wife. He has a background in engineering, chemistry, and biology.

He supports the district working toward a permanent coastal development permit for its sustainable water facility and more community involvement with the district. But Perry said that relationship should go both ways, with district board members making themselves more accessible to the public.

"It occurred to me if each of the directors had time to have lunch once a month, and instead of a list of grievances and problems, the community came with ideas and solutions. Let's brainstorm together and make people feel more involved," he said.

Howell is a retired database administrator who wants the district board to have more accountability, specifically around the process of recruiting a new general manager.

"This is too important to rush into. Boards come and go every four years but the general manager goes on," he said. "It's important to conduct a thorough search and interview process because it needs to be the right one."

Howell supports the district's pursuit of permanently permitting the sustainable water facility, maintaining the water wait list, addressing the community's fire safety issues, and ensuring that the roads are sustainable for the town's current and future population.

Steidel is a retired business manager, who participated on the build-out reduction committee, currently serves as vice chair on the North Coast Advisory Council, and participates on the district's financial committee.

Steidel said she backs the district's recent formation of financial and infrastructure committees, which she believes are a significant piece of creating stronger policies to move the district out of its current financial issues.

"I'd like the board to be focused on establishing the fiscal health of the district. I was very much committed to the rate hike, and I'm very proud that the community had the political will to step up and allow that to happen," she said. "We need to find ways that we can find the district healthy enough for grants and loans to apply for things we need down the line."

She said she believes the sustainable water facility, the water wait list, and controlled growth are all intertwined to keep Cambria fiscally sound and are all issues she supports.

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