McLaren, Gilbert in water district race

  • John Santana<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:45am

Larey McLaren and Carol Gilbert both have experience dealing with water and sewer service and infrastructure, but they come into the race for Alderwood Water District Commissioner Position 3 from different perspectives.

The position is being vacated by incumbent Phillip Lay, the commission’s president. Lay is moving outside the district’s boundaries.

Gilbert, of Mountlake Terrace, has worked for the city of Lynnwood’s engineering department for seven years and owned a plumbing business for 10 years prior to that. She has also served on Mountlake Terrace’s Police Advisory Board and Civil Service Board, and is president of the Snohomish County Center for Battered Women.

“I am a good fit because I have a good overall feel for this,” Gilbert said. “I understand how boards work.”

McLaren, of the Mays Pond area south of Mill Creek, served on the commission from 1999 to 2001 as an appointed representative in Position 5 when the board expanded. He lost to Roy George in the 2001 election by a margin of 53.79 percent to 45.94 percent. McLaren is also a former chair of the state Libertarian Party.

“A key to efficiency in any board is balance,” McLaren said. “This time the voters have a chance to put in a little balance. They have an opportunity to put in a ratepayer on the board. My learning curve would be very short.”

In terms of keeping up with growth, McLaren is a believer in preventative maintenance.

“We have to stay ahead of aging infrastructure,” he said. “It’s important that we develop a plan regularly for the purpose of accountability to the ratepayers.”

McLaren also said the district must make sure provisions for new infrastructure must be part of new construction, or else the district “could be set up for trouble down the road.”

Both candidates believe that new growth in the district should pay for its own infrastructure. Gilbert said the key is to keep an eye on the impact the state Growth Management Act, plus county and state laws and regulations, can have on the district.

“These should be under constant review,” Gilbert said. “The developers need to make the sewer and water pipes accessible for entire areas, not just for their development.”

Both candidates agree that the district should review the many long-term agreements it has with the various cities it serves.

Gilbert said, “I don’t think anything should sit idle.”

McLaren, meanwhile, said, “It’s advantageous to lock in good wholesale rates for the long-term. Alderwood has had good relationships with all its wholesale cities.”

In terms of expanding and modernizing the Picnic Point Treatment Plant, McLaren said most of the decisions regarding that issue have already been made.

“But we have to make sure that whatever we do, we don’t look at five years out but a long way out and use state-of-the-art technology,” he said. “I want to be far-sighted. Whatever approach we take it must serve the ratepayer for the long-haul.”

Gilbert’s views are similar to McLaren’s. “I’m interested in keeping an eye on (plant expansion), preventing cost overruns and make sure the community is involved in the expansion. I don’t like surprises. I want us to do our homework up front.”

Both candidates have experience with disaster planning. McLaren was on the commission when it was working on Y2K preparations. Gilbert, meanwhile, was involved with the city of Lynnwood’s vulnerability study.

“(The district) has done a lot and I’m sure those efforts are ongoing,” Gilbert said.

McLaren feels the district is prepared for a natural disaster or terrorist attack thanks to the plans it has in place for seismic upgrades, as well as those that have already been completed.

“We can always look at other technology to further ensure the safety of the water,” he said.

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