Helix Water District’s Kathleen Hedberg: Integrity is What We Do When No One is Watching

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Guest Commentary
by Jason Jackson

Special District Board elections may not be sexy and certainly don’t get the press of federal races or even that of some of our municipal elections, but they are nonetheless extremely important for setting policy in the San Diego region. If anything the lack of attention paid to these districts adds to the importance of these elections. If the “sunlight” of media attention is the best disinfectant for a democracy, than it is easy to see why special districts can be breeding grounds for nepotism and corruption. The lack of public attention increases the importance of electing to these boards people of high integrity who will act as independent advocates for rate payers.

That’s why I’m supporting Kathleen Hedberg for Helix Water Board. Hedberg has been a consistent advocate for rate payers, opposing excessive rate increases in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 – often as a lone vote of opposition. She opposed the renegotiation of the El Capitan Lease that has resulted in over $1.6 million in litigation expenses to the District, and she opposed the 2013 district budget which called for a 6.2 percent rate increase for consumers. Just in the past several months Hedberg parlayed unexpected savings in the District’s budget into savings for consumers, influencing the Board to reduce its rate increase from 6.2 percent to 4.3 percent for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Hedberg’s consistent advocacy for rate payers has earned her the enmity of the big government tax and spenders who comprise a majority on the current board, ultimately resulting in her being passed over for Vice President of the board despite her seniority. The indignities (and potential illegalities) didn’t end there, as the board then tried to unlawfully exclude Hedberg from the hiring process for the District’s GM. Thwarted in that clear overreach, Hedberg’s opponents on the board twice attempted an unconscionable and unconstitutional prohibition on the freedom of speech rights of Hedberg and other board dissenters, seeking to bar her from speaking to the media about votes in which she was in the minority, and seeking to shroud board deliberations from public oversight. Despite these nefarious actions by her opponents, Hedberg has courageously remained steadfast in her support for rate payers.

With water rates having gone up 83 percent over the last ten years for the 250,000 people served by Helix Water, rate payers can ill afford to lose Hedberg’s steadfast support on the board. Over her eight year tenure Hedberg has proven herself to have the courage and integrity to consistently stand for rate payers. She is the only one we can trust to continue to do so … even as she toils on our behalf while no one is watching.

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Jason Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2002. After graduation, he deployed as a naval officer in support of the War on Terrorism, earning the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign and unit citations for his service in the conflict. He has a master’s degree in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA. He was a contributing author to the war memoir, In the Shadow of Greatness, and has also written several papers on constitutional law and election law.

The column above was published on the author’s blog, jeffersonjackson.com, and appears on SD Rostra with Mr. Jackson’s permission.

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