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Voters Prepare To Cast Ballots Tuesday
OID Board Seats

Tuesday, Nov. 3 is Election Day and there are a few races of interest in the Oakdale area.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day; local voters have received their sample ballot with information regarding their individual polling places listed on the back.

In a quiet campaign, incumbent Oakdale Joint Unified School District board member Mike Tozzi is running for re-election in Trustee Area 1, a seat shared with San Joaquin County. He is opposed by farmer Larry Betschart.

Oakdale Irrigation District Division 5 pits incumbent Gary Osmundson (appointed earlier this year) against challenger Daniel Medina for the short-term to fill out the time remaining on that term. Osmundson did not return a questionnaire seeking comment and Medina – listed as a farmer/hoof trimmer on the ballot – could not be contacted.

Daniel John Medina, owner of Dan Medina Construction in Oakdale, did contact The Leader to say he was NOT the candidate and is not running for election.

There are two other contested races, in Division 1 and Division 4, with candidate profiles in those races featured here, in questionnaires sent out by The Leader and turned in by the candidates.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, first for the Division 1 race and then the Division 4 race.



Seat (Division) you are seeking on the board?

Oakdale Irrigation District Division 1, which includes most of eastern Oakdale and the regions east and north of town.

Briefly state your reason(s) for running:

It is time to bring back honesty, integrity and transparency to the OID. We must stop these secret meetings, back-room deals and misrepresentation of what really is going on.

The OID is a public agency supported by our community’s tax dollars and water fees. It needs to do the public’s business in public with the public’s best long-term interest in mind.

I will represent and work for our community members, not against them. The time for secrecy is over. I want to help usher in a new era of openness.

What do you see as the biggest strength of OID?

The district’s more than century-old water rights have enriched our region, supplying generous amounts of surface water to meet our agricultural needs. That water, originating in the Sierras, also generates electricity, which is sold to subsidize the cost of irrigating our community’s farms and ranches.

What do you feel is OID’s biggest weakness?

OID leaders seem addicted to selling so-called “surplus” water to buyers from outside our region, and many of their ill-advised decisions have been crafted to keep the cash flowing from those water sales.

To make sure it had enough “extra” surface water to sell this year, OID pumped our community’s groundwater aquifers nonstop while hoarding its surface water in Sierra reservoirs.

OID directors willingly drained down Oakdale’s dwindling groundwater supply so they could cash in on surface water sales to outsiders. Their short-sighted decisions — many of which were made behind closed doors — have endangered our community’s long-term water security.

Most important issue facing OID?

OID’s questionable use of our water resources has not gone unnoticed by state and regional officials. Stanislaus County leaders openly refer to OID as “a rogue agency,” and that’s a problem.

Serious questions are being raised about OID’s groundwater pumping and surface water sales. OID directors’ belligerent refusal to cooperate with regional groundwater sustainability efforts has hurt our community’s reputation.

That has weakened our ability to muster the broad-based regional support needed to ward off state-proposed environmental mandates to reallocate Stanislaus River water. Losing our river rights could permanently damage OID’s ability to meet our community’s water needs.

OID needs to start cooperating with our regional neighbors so they will stand with us in the upcoming battle to protect OID’s water rights.

What skills/talents/experience do you feel you are able to provide?

I am trustworthy, tenacious and committed to doing what is best for the long-term benefit of our entire community. I am a good communicator who knows how listen, isn’t afraid to ask questions and is willing to seek advice. I do my own research, and I won’t be bullied into complacency.

I am not an OID insider who financially benefits from board decisions, so I will be objective, fair and logical in how I vote. That’s one reason Stanislaus County’s Labor Council has endorsed my candidacy.

As a cattle rancher who runs an AngusX cow-calf operation, I have hands-on experience in agriculture and what it takes to manage a business.

As an educator for more than 30 years, I know how to work cooperatively toward a common goal. That requires respect for everyone — including people who have different points of view. And that’s a trait I think every OID leader should acquire.

Is there a specific philosophy you would bring to the position?

Honesty, integrity and transparency are what OID needs most right now, and that’s what I will bring to the Board of Directors.

For more information about my positions, please visit my Facebook page at

What, if any, other committee/board posts have you held and when?

I am treasurer of the Stanislaus Water Coalition and a founding member of the Stanislaus Groundwater Alliance. I was an active member of the California Education Association for 25 years, and I served as advisor to the California Junior Scholarship Federation for 20 years.

I have held leadership positions with the Oakdale Saddle Club, the Backcountry Horseman of California’s Mid-Valley Unit and the Los Viajeros Riding Club.



Seat (division) you are seeking on the board?

Director Oakdale Irrigation District Division 1

Briefly state your reason(s)for running.

Seeking re-election.

What do you see as the biggest strength of OID?

OID is blessed with an excellent staff and bargaining unit employees. Dedicated, conscientious, hard working. They make OID function.

Having a “Water Resource Plan” developed several years ago that we follow religiously that has allowed OID to be successful in our operations.

Providing our customers with adequate water during the current four year drought. Keeping OID’s water rates among the lowest in the state, having a strong financial reserve and last, a water conservation program that our farmers have bought into that has conserved thousands of acre feet of water this past year.

What do you feel is OID’s biggest weakness?

The retention of our work force. Our employees need to be brought more in line with the compensation being paid to the employees of other irrigation districts. OID is significantly below other agencies and this has to be addressed.

Most important issue facing OID?

The protection of OID’s long standing water rights. The Department of Water Resources in Sacramento has put us on notice that they plan on taking at least 40 percent of our water for inflow into the delta, and ultimately send it south. This would devastate our entire community. It will be a long and expensive legal battle but there are no alternatives.

What skills/talents/experience do you feel you are able to provide?

I have served the past 14 years on the OID Board, prior to that I was employed by the Modesto Police Department as patrol division commander. I supervised over 75 employees and was responsible for preparing and presenting the police department budget to the City Council for approval. I next served three years in Vietnam as a foreign service officer supervising 15 government employees and managing logistical support to the Vietnamese government in Central Vietnam. I was employed by Gallo Winery for 23 years where I served as vice-president and managed seven departments with numerous employees. Annually I put together and managed budgets in the millions of dollars.

Is there a specific philosophy you would bring to the position?

I believe OID already has the right philosophy. Protect our water rights, provide water to our constituents at a reasonable rate, support our community.

What, If any, other committee/board posts have you held and when?

President Modesto Police Officers Association 1966—chairperson Stanislaus County solid waste management board 1980 (?)—chairman Stanislaus County Substance Abuse Board 1985 (?)—Stanislaus County Grand Jury two terms 1998-99 (?), Trustee Oakdale High School District 1978-81 and 1984-89.



Seat (Division) you are seeking on the board?

Director for Oakdale Irrigation District Division #4

Briefly state your reason(s) for running

Due to the abilities and character I have shown as a current director, I have been asked by a number of my peers to continue as the voice of Progressive Farmers. Water has a tremendous effect on our community’s way of life. I want to maintain and keep a healthy relationship between our district and its constituents, as well as help protect and lead our district into a sustainable and viable future. I believe I have the education, knowledge, and experience to do so.

What do you see as the biggest strength of OID?

In the midst of a four year drought without losing quality of service or reliability O.I.D. has been able to provide one of the highest water allocations to its constituents at one of the lowest rates in the State of California.

What do you feel is OID’s biggest weakness?

Oakdale Irrigation District’s outdated and inefficient water delivery system with an estimated amount of 168 million dollar price tag is our biggest weakness. O.I.D. has a Water Resource Plan in place that will correct this issue and move the district forward.

Most important issue facing OID?

In my opinion the most important issue facing O.I.D. is protecting our Senior Water Rights. Without these water rights we put the “Lifeline” of our community at a great risk.

What skills/talents/experience do you feel you are able to provide?


A graduate of Cal Poly with a degree in Ag Business concentration in Ag Policy.


I was employed with Production Credit as a Loan Officer. Worked for Western United Dairymen (Trade Association) as a field representative, fourth generation farmer and business owner.

Attitude, leadership, communication skills, ability to keep an open mind, and be fair, reasonable.

Is there a specific philosophy you would bring to the position?

As a sitting director since 2006 the board has been faced with many difficult issues. It has always been important to me to keep in mind “That it’s not what is in the best interest of an individual, it’s what is in the best interest of our constituents, the district, and our community as a whole.”



Seat (Division) you are seeking on the board?

Oakdale Irrigation District Director Division 4, which represents part of central Oakdale and rural regions southeast of the city.

Briefly state your reason(s) for running

I’m concerned with the direction the Oakdale Irrigation District is headed.

Preserving our surface water and our underground aquifers — for our ranchers, farmers and domestic water users — is of utmost importance.

Without our precious water, the local economy will dry up and our community will be decimated. Everything we have revolves around our water. That’s why OID must begin balancing its budget without relying on massive water sales to out-of-region water brokers. When excess water is available, OID first should offer it to local ranchers and farmers. Then neighboring irrigation districts should get the chance to buy our high-quality water for a realistic price.

What do you see as the biggest strength of OID?

Without a doubt, OID’s strength is its ability to store large volumes of water from rain and the snow pack.

The Tri-Dam Project, which OID shares with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, initially was funded by ranchers and farmers who used their own land as collateral for construction bonds. As technology developed, electrical generation became a clean, efficient and renewable byproduct of the water flowing through the dam turbines. That has helped provide our district low-cost irrigation water.

What do you feel is OID’s biggest weakness?

The secret methods OID’s Board of Directors have employed to make decisions and take actions are a problem.

As owners of this public agency, our community members should be a part of the decision-making process and kept informed about important issues. By stifling public participation, OID has fostered growing community suspicion and mistrust of the district.

Most important issue facing OID?

OID’s directors, general manager and legal counsel must rebuild trust with the public so we can have confidence they are working in our long-term best interest.

Several seemingly illegal actions have been taken by OID leaders recently, including suspected violations of California’s Open Meetings Law (the Brown Act).

OID leaders also have shown disregard for our region’s shrinking groundwater reserves and for local families whose domestic wells have gone dry. Rather than OID pumping its deep wells nonstop, the district should be fully utilizing — not exporting — its surface water. Finding ways to restore the public’s confidence in OID is going to be a challenge.

What skills/talents/experience do you feel you are able to provide?

Besides helping manage my family’s ranch and farm, I have held numerous jobs over the decades. I have managed large businesses with hundreds of employees, handled multi-million dollar accounts and run my own company for 17 years.

I have experience balancing budgets, setting policies, making deadlines, meeting customer demands, and hiring and firing employees. I also understand the importance of team building and communicating with people in mutually respectful ways.

My diverse business experience and commitment to our community will be an asset to the OID. That is why my candidacy has been endorsed by Stanislaus County’s Republican Party Central Committee.

Is there a specific philosophy you would bring to the position?

Integrity is everything.

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters,” Albert Einstein warned. I agree.

Education and talents aside, it is how you treat people that ultimately tells all.

For more information about my views, please visit my Facebook page at .

What, if any, other committee/board posts have you held and when?

I have held numerous leadership positions with the Oakdale Saddle Club during the last 30 years.