The following candidates are running for a position on the Oakdale Irrigation District board on the Nov. 3 ballot. For more information on voting procedures this year, go to www.stanvote.com.
Donald “Duke” Cooper is running to represent east Oakdale as director of the Oakdale Irrigation District Division 1.
“We must safeguard Oakdale’s water resources and ensure OID’s actions are in the long-term best interest of our entire community,” Cooper said. “I’m very concerned about OID’s continuing efforts to export our surface water to Bay Area cities and Southern California corporate farms.”
OID is a taxpayer-funded government agency, and Cooper said OID directors need to focus on protecting Oakdale’s groundwater.
“Rather than pumping down our aquifers, OID should be supplying farmers throughout Oakdale’s groundwater basin with irrigation water at fair prices,” Cooper said. “Diverting water to outsiders while forcing local farmers to unnecessarily pump groundwater endangers Oakdale’s drinking water supply.”
Cooper added, “We all drink groundwater in Oakdale, but far too many domestic wells have gone dry. If OID would keep more of its plentiful irrigation water within our region, aquifers could recharge naturally to prevent wells from running dry.”
Cooper’s established his community leadership with his work with American Veterans First, a local non-profit group he founded and currently serves as CEO. The charity’s volunteers provide mentoring and referrals, along with food, housing and employment assistance to military veterans.
A retired building contractor, Cooper also has business, budgeting and project management experience.
“My team-building talents and leadership skills are needed to calm the turmoil that embroils the OID,” Cooper said. “I am committed to treating all OID customers and taxpayers with respect and fairness.”
Cooper objects to OID’s plans to build a new administration complex in southwest Oakdale.
“This is no time to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on fancy new offices,” Cooper said. “If OID needs more space for staff members, it should consider renting or buying one of Oakdale’s many vacant office or retail spaces, like the empty Kmart building.”
Cooper said it is more important for OID and Oakdale’s city leaders to work cooperatively to improve the taste, safety and availability of Oakdale’s drinking water.
To avoid conflicts of interest, Cooper intends to fund his own campaign.
“Voters should look carefully at who bankrolls candidates,” Cooper said. “I will not be beholden to any special interest. I will be an independent advocate for doing what’s right to protect our community’s future.”
OID Division 1 has more than 5,000 registered voters who live in the far eastern part of the city of Oakdale, the rural neighborhoods known as East Oakdale, and rural portions of Oakdale north of the Stanislaus River.
Gail Altieri, the current Division 1 director, is not seeking reelection, and she is endorsing Cooper in this November’s election.
For more information, email DukeCooperForOID@gmail.com, visit www.Facebook.com/DukeCooperForOID or call/text (209) 318-7801.
Ed Tobias graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Science and Management. Tobias served on the Waterford School Board during the negotiating period between the Oakdale and Waterford school districts, a process that ended with the creation of a high school in Waterford. During those negotiations, Tobias shared that he fell in love with Oakdale. Tobias and his wife, Darlene, moved to Oakdale 17 years ago and all three daughters attended and graduated from Oakdale High School.
Tobias worked for Modesto Irrigation District for 28 years. He started in water delivery, promoted to Survey Crew, promoted to Engineering Technician, promoted to Irrigation Superintendent, and finally promoted to Irrigation Manager. The last 10 years of his career was as a manager.
Tobias will rely on this experience to work with the OID at the policy level. He looks forward to a productive term on the Oakdale Irrigation District Board. There are many current challenges and together with communication, cooperation and coordination, Tobias believes the board can position Oakdale Irrigation District for a bright future.
Linda Santos is seeking reelection to the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors, representing Division 4, which includes parts of central Oakdale and rural areas southeast of Oakdale.
Santos is a rancher, and she was among the first women elected to OID’s board five years ago.
“I’m committed to the long-term environmental and economic prosperity of our region, where my family has lived for more than 150 years,” Santos said. “As an OID director, I’m fighting to ensure our community’s dwindling water resources benefit all Oakdale residents, farmers and ranchers — not just powerful special interest groups.”
Santos opposes exporting Oakdale’s water to Bay Area cities or Southern California farms, saying, “We should retain our water within our water basin to bolster local agriculture, jobs and families. We must protect our aquifer because groundwater levels have plummeted more than 50 feet in some parts of the OID the last 20 years, and that endangers our community’s future.”
Santos said the OID needs to focus on preserving our community’s aquifers by making OID’s surface water available to more farmers within Oakdale’s groundwater basin. She said doing so would both reduce groundwater pumping and help recharge the aquifers through percolation.
“Everyone in and around Oakdale gets their drinking water from wells, so protecting our groundwater is vital,” Santos said.
Oakdale property taxes support the OID, but Santos said the public agency currently does little to benefit Oakdale city residents.
“The irrigation district must continue working with city officials to improve the quality and quantity of our drinking water supply,” said Santos, noting how OID has plenty of surface water that could be used by Oakdale residents if properly treated.
“OID has the money to help diversify the city’s water supply,” Santos said. “But rather than focus on our community’s best interest, OID plans to spend more than $10 million building an extravagant new administrative complex south of town. That’s simply irresponsible.”
Santos intends to self-fund her re-election campaign.
For more information about Santos, email LindaSantosForOID@gmail.com or visit www.Facebook.com/LindaSantos4OID
Henry Dotinga is a first-generation American from a large family of Dutch immigrants, who have lived in Oakdale for 48 years. Dotinga grew up in the dairy farm business, and his family, faith, and education have been instrumental in developing both his work ethic and his ties to the community. Dotinga eventually became the head mechanic on his family farm and went off to pursue a career as an automotive technician. After 25 years in the service industry, Dotinga faced a series of health challenges, but his faith and community provided a stable foundation that allowed him to move past them. He feels he’s been gifted with a second chance at life, and is committed to giving back to the community that showed him such steadfast support.
Dotinga believes water is the lifeblood of the Central Valley, and the overreach of the state is disrupting the community and diminishing the prosperity of farms, business, and residents in the area. Dotinga’s goal as Director will be to preserve the city’s water rights, increase reliable supply, and promote ground water sustainability, while allowing to cultivate the harmony and unity that have been the bedrock of the Oakdale community for generations.