Helix Water District


The district provides water for a nearly 50-square-mile area covering the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley and unincorporated areas near El Cajon. Each seat, or division, carries its own race.

Nov 2006

Four candidates are seeking two seats on the Helix Water District Board of Directors.


  • Joel Scalzitti
Small-business owner, Age: 35

Elected offices held: Member, Helix Water District Board of Directors, 2000-02

Community involvement: Volunteered in the vocational program at Grossmont High School and volunteered for Brownies cookie sales program.

College or post-high-school training: Trained in water distribution through water-transport business.

Statement of candidacy: I believe it is the responsibility of a board member to make sure the district is run in a cost-effective manner, ensuring that water rate charges are justifiable.

What qualifications, attributes or perspectives would you bring to this elected position that your opponent(s) would not?

Unlike my opponent, who is a hand-picked, appointed incumbent, I would be an independent voice on the board. Having prior elected experience makes my qualifications superior from Day One.

What are the three most important issues in this race? What would you do to address each one?

Water rates: Keeping water rates low is my No. 1 priority. With Helix's vast cash reserves of approximately $40 million, it's difficult to imagine a justifiable rate increase. Therefore, I will not support their continued annual rate increase.

Long-term planning: Long-term planning can save significant amounts by consolidating new systems construction and cost-sharing of routine administration duties (billing, etc.) with other public agencies. Helix also needs to examine cost-saving opportunities from up-to-date water conservation, re-use and reclamation programs.

Conflicts of interest: The current policy of selecting and appointing friends (cronies) to the board needs to be replaced by new energy and fresh ideas.

Small-business owner, Age: 59

Offices: None

Involvement: Appointed member of Helix Water District Board of Directors, 2005-present; support community charity organizations and facilities through women's Christian organization. Employ community residents in my business; give preference to purchasing company supplies, parts and services from local businesses.

Education: Mesa College, associate's degree, 1966; National University, bachelor's degree in business administration, 1983.

Statement: Hold water rates at an affordable price; ensure high-quality water is efficiently and reliably delivered to every user in the district; plan for future water demands and reduced water rates.

Qualifications: Honesty, integrity, sound business judgment, fiscally responsible, Helix board member since April 27, 2005, provide clean, reliable water at lowest possible rate, proven ability to drastically cut costs to sustain business.


Water rates: Viewing the district Web site and the Urban Water Management Plan helps water users to better understand what it takes to consistently deliver high-quality water to the 55,000 residences and businesses in the district.

Raw water is purchased, treated, pumped, stored and distributed so that, without fail, water flows from our faucet when turned on. The district sets the standards of excellent water system management.

Understanding our water system operations and our ratepayers' concern for rising costs, I will thoroughly review staff recommendations with a mindset and determination to keep water rates as low as possible.


Kathleen Hedberg, Civil engineer, Age: 37

Offices: None

Involvement: President of Aqualink Water Systems, 1999-2002 and 2004-present; vice president at large for Professional Engineers in California Government, 1999-2000; playgroup captain, Parent Connection; member, Fuerte Elementary School PTA; assistant coach, YMCA.

Education: Cal Poly Pomona, bachelor's degree in civil engineering, 1992; SDSU, master's degree in public health, 1999; Certified as a Grade 4 water treatment operator and as a cross-connection control specialist.

Statement: I have the knowledge and experience to help lead the district in matters concerning future water resources, i.e., using recycled water or groundwater for irrigation of parks and green belts. www.VoteHedberg.org.

Qualifications: I have the time to study all the important issues concerning the water district. I have the background to help pursue alternative water sources and obtain federal and state grants.


Water rates: Keep rates low, make sure new projects are cost-effective. After nine years with the California Drinking Water Program I am qualified to ask the right questions to make sure the ratepayers' money is spent wisely.

Water quality: Ensure that the district is prepared to meet all state and federal drinking water regulations. My experience and knowledge of the California Drinking Water Regulations will help me make effective decisions.

Water conservation: Support and research ways to reduce demand on Colorado River water. Support and promote the Water Conservation Garden to help the community landscape wisely.
  • James J. Lewanski
Civil engineer, Age: 62

Offices: Member, Helix Water Board of Directors, 1994-present

Involvement: Member, East County Economic Development Council Board of Directors; Helix Water District representative, East County Chamber of Commerce; director, Harry Griffen Park Steering Committee; involved in the Water Conservation Garden since 1994; vice president, Water Agencies Association of San Diego.

Education: University of Notre Dame, bachelor's degree in civil engineering; U.S. Army Engineer School.

Statement: Helix is the best-run water district in the state of California. It is my job to keep it that way. I thank you for your support.

Qualifications: I have spent my entire adult life in the arena of civil (public works) engineering, including engineering design of pipelines, water distribution and storage facilities, construction management and administration.


Experience: A basic and real understanding of California's water system is required. There is no substitute for real-world experience.

Understanding: A realistic understanding of what is needed, what is possible and what might be expected is required. Again, there is no substitute for real-world experience.

Approach: How best to accomplish those things that will safeguard our water supply is required; a no-nonsense, no-“sound bite,” no-“political fluff” approach to ensure water reliability at realistic costs for all of San Diego.

-- Raymond Lutz - 07 Nov 2006
Topic revision: r1 - 07 Nov 2006, RaymondLutz
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