Four men from the East Valley answered the call of the Big Bear City Community Services District, and submitted resumés for consideration by the Board of Directors, who sought to appoint a fifth director during their meeting of May 3. The applicants included Gary Wentz, CSD’s General Manager in the early ’80s, who has since just retired from military service; 32-year resident John Green, an employee of the County’s Special Districts Water and Sanitation Division, specifically overseeing the Fawnskin area; Thom DeGriselles, a hometown boy who returned to Bear City with his family in 2009, when he joined the Army National Guard after a career with the Alameda County Water District; and public meeting regular Bob Ybarra, a four-year Valley resident and employee of a local glass installation company. CSD’s President Marge McDonald introduced the four to the standing-room only crowd, announcing, “We have four viable candidates, or applicants.”
As outlined in an earlier CSD meeting, Directors John Day, Rick Ollila and Jeff Newsome were to ask each applicant a question during the open session portion of the meeting, and then an appointee would be named, in order that they might fill the fifth, vacant post by May 11, when final budget proceedings for the district are scheduled to get underway. What had not been mentioned, however, until last night’s meeting is that McDonald would allow public comment, should CSD constituents favor a particular candidate.
Each applicant was given opportunity to introduce themselves with an opening statement, and the series of directors’ questions were asked and appropriately responded to by each of the applicants–though McDonald’s question was poised to favor Ybarra, when she asked each, “How many CSD meetings have you attended?” The President’s preference came to the fore, however, when during public comment, for which McDonald imposed no time limit, nine people spoke in favor of Ybarra who, in his opening remark, had gracefully shared that, in 1978, he served time for a felony conviction when arrested for stealing from his employer at that time. The fact that community members, including Ybarra’s pastor and Big Bear Lake City Councilmember Michael Karp, came prepared with written speeches highlighting his character and integrity, prompted reactions from the unprepared others, such as Al Ziegler, who remarked at the podium, “The bulk of the people here does not represent the bulk of the Valley. You’ve got a little small clique here, and it goes around and around and around.”
Each candidate was poised, articulate and uniquely qualified to serve the district, prompting Director Newsome to deem them “an awesome set of candidates”—but, he added, “I’ll be quite candid. I have some concerns that are going to require legal input.” It was Vice President Day who suggested that they hold on a decision, which the Board unanimously agreed upon, citing May 17 for the appointment of Wentz, Green, DeGriselles or Ybarra. Technically, the CSD Board has 60 days from the April 5 resignation notice of outgoing Director Barbara Beck to name an appointee, otherwise power defers to Third District County Supervisor Neil Derry. Or, as McDonald suggested in her closing comments, “If we can’t agree, we may go to an election in November.”
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