(Three candidates are running for two open seats on the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors. The candidates include David Elsebusch and incumbents John Corbett and Helen Edwards. The following is part of a series of profiles on the candidates.)
By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer
Incumbent Helen Edwards is hoping that voters will elect her for another four-year term on the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) Board of Directors.
Edwards, first elected in 2007, is the president of the MCSD board. She is a certified public accountant with a master’s degree in accounting from Sacramento State University and a doctoral degree in public administration from University of Southern California.
Edwards taught accounting and business classes at College of the Redwoods and served as the college’s division chair for vocational programs. She is also on the board of the Humboldt County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
MCSD’s greatest challenge, Edwards said, is finding a way to work more closely with all aspects of county government, including planning, public works, and law enforcement. MCSD needs to have input with the county and with other decision-making agencies, such as HCAOG [the Humboldt County Association of Governments] – or a McKinleyville Advisory Committee.
“We do our planning in response to everyone else’s decision making, but if we can be in on the decision making process at the early end, we can point out drawbacks and inefficiencies that they might not otherwise be aware of,” she said. “Then we’ll be better able to provide appropriate, cost-effective services to our ratepayers.”
Although she wants MCSD to participate in planning with other agencies, she does not think the district should assume direct planning powers itself.
Edwards said that she was disappointed by the county’s recent decision to re-zone several McKinleyville parcels to high density multi-family use, even though the MCSD had advised the county against it.
“I’m very disappointed that the county did not make a greater effort to listen to the citizens,” she said.
“The community group worked very hard to meet the constraints of the county and the demands of the Community Plan, by locating the multi-family units in a central area. The county did not acknowledge the need for doing that.
“Our ratepayers are greatly at risk under this current county brouhaha,” she said.
The problem is basically that most of the planned development is on the east side of the freeway, and the wastewater treatment plant is on the west side of the freeway. Only three sewer pipelines cross under the freeway, and they are not large enough to handle all the wastewater that the new development would bring, according to Edwards.
If the multi-family housing had all been concentrated near the town center, MCSD would have only had to redevelop one of the pipelines. With the present situation, however, all three of the pipelines will be impacted.
“We’re talking about millions of dollars of investment,” Edwards said. “MCSD will need to consider how to meet the financial challenges of this increased area – and minimize the expense to the ratepayers. It’s not a pretty picture.”
The district had previously begun a 20-year-plan, which will now have to be altered in response to the new planned densities.
Over the next ten years, Edwards would like to see a town center concept for McKinleyville developed, and the necessary infrastructure provided. She would also like to see an expanded Parks and Recreation Department, a completed Teen Center, an expanded community garden area, and more facilities for disc golf and bocce ball.
“We need to continue to expand our water storage capabilities, and keep on top of the state requirements for managing our wastewater,” she said.
“I also hope that we’ll be far better prepared in case of an emergency, which we’ve started working for by placing a pipeline over the bridge.”