Bear Valley Springs residents have the opportunity to cast their vote for two seats coming open on the board of directors for the Community Service District in the Nov. 3 election.

Vying in the election is incumbent Jay Carlyn who is a seated member up for re-election, and four new candidates, John Grace, Charles Jensen, Kathy Kneer and Steve Miles.

Campaigning for the BVS CSD election has been contentious, with picketing at the front gates seen as well as a battleground on social media.

To better help residents decide how to cast their votes, candidates provided questionnaires about themselves, as follows:

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Name: Jay Carlyn

Age: 59

Employment: I currently work as an executive leadership team member at Rain for Rent (vice president/West), credited with managing growth through change in highly competitive markets. 

Education and training: Graduate from Florida Atlantic University - Training is all the applicable work experience to include two years on the financial committee for the board prior to taking the seat on the board for the last four years.

Why do you wish to serve on the BVS CSD?

It is no secret that the 50-year-old infrastructure has been ignored for many years, resulting in deteriorating roads, water system, building structure safety (Whiting Center, guard house), mailboxes, etc. that will continue to cost us more and more by putting band-aids as a quick fix versus replacing. While it might be popular to declare that this can be accomplished without increases, it cannot. Currently, the board members and I are making difficult decisions to ensure we/the community are not put in this predicament in the future. We/I need your help; remember proposition 218 mandates the people vote for these increases. The board can only suggest and put the plan forward to the people. Business decisions must be made based on fact, not feeling.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for Bear Valley Springs and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

The continuance of working to improve, and replace the 50-year-old infrastructure, finding ways to be creative while at the same time efficient in lowering costs by way of evaluating current practices, and setting in stone a 5- to 15-year plan on work set forth by the board today for others to follow rather than the previous 20-plus-years band-aid approach. The board is tasked on overseeing, providing guidance, approving high-dollar plans, budgets developed by the general manager and his department heads all at a high level.

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Name: John I. Grace

Age: 50

Employment: Vice-president, Development Hillwood Investment Properties.

Education and training: Bachelor of science (summa cum laude) from the University of Southern California. Major in Urban Planning and Development. Executive civilian leadership training at Thayer Leader Development Group, USMA, West Point.

Why do you wish to serve on the BVS CSD?

Simply put, I want to use my experience to help BVS reach its full potential and see all residents achieve the quality of life that they were promised when they invested here. This community deserves strong leadership to solve lingering problems and make hard (even unpopular) decisions, instead of just kicking the can to future BVCSD boards. As a real estate development manager charged with administering multimillion dollar budgets and advancing land use entitlement through an often contentious public sector, I feel I have the unique skill set to contribute in that way.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for Bear Valley Springs and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

First, I seek to return credibility to the BVCSD board in its relationship with the residents it serves. Until the community trusts its elected leaders again, we cannot move forward with anything we seek to accomplish together. Secondly, as self-evident as it sounds, we need to address ongoing maintenance of infrastructure such as roads and water distribution systems. Unaddressed deterioration of our critical infrastructure is a direct threat to property values and to the underlying safety of the community. Lastly, I want to ensure that a strong, independent police agency remains in Bear Valley and has the governmental support and financial underpinning to remain self-sustained in perpetuity.

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Name: Charles Jensen

Age: 52

Employment: I am currently an officer with the California Highway Patrol, Mojave Area Office, and am retiring on Nov. 23.

Education and training: During my over 24 years of service, I worked in the West Valley Area Office in Los Angeles for over 10 years and the Mojave Area Office for almost 14 years. I am a field training officer, drug recognition expert (and instructor), and trained in traffic collision reconstruction. For the last three years, I have served as the Mojave area VIN officer and school bus officer. Prior to joining the California Highway Patrol in 1996, I was a freelance musician throughout Southern California after having studied in the music performance program at California State University, Northridge, on a partial scholarship. 

Why do you wish to serve on the BVS CSD?

Working a full-time job with irregular workdays and hours, I have been left to watch from the sidelines as Bear Valley Springs has been mismanaged. Last year, the Bear Valley Board of Directors signed and submitted a letter of support to the State Legislature for Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 – a piece of legislation that would have weakened Propositions 13 and 218 and reduced the approval rate for increased/new taxes and fees from a two-thirds majority to a 55 percent majority. In the words of their letter, Propositions 13 and 218 represent a "substantial hurdle" to raising taxes and creating new fees. To me, as a homeowner, that "substantial hurdle" is a good thing. It's what protects us from runaway taxes and lets us stay in our homes. I never would've believed that five representatives of our community could have agreed to this. It is this that drives my candidacy.

For the last six years, I have watched the board waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on proposals that were rejected by the community and never came to fruition. Our community faces real challenges with its infrastructure that can only be met with sound judgement and honest assessments of what we NEED versus what we WANT.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for Bear Valley Springs and that are important to you for the future health of the district? 

With this in mind, I bring true transparency to the board. I have no family members working for the district. I will protect the homeowners of Bear Valley Springs. My first operational thought is to represent you, the people of Bear Valley Springs, and the values we share. I am grateful for the support I have received thus far and I thank you for your vote.

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Name: Kathy Kneer

Age: 67

Employment: Retired nonprofits CEO

Education and training: For 32 years, I worked in maternal and child health public policy, first with the March of Dimes and then with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. I worked in Sacramento on health legislation with every governor since 1972, and was successful in increasing access to prenatal care for women and, with Gov. Pete Wilson, decreasing teen pregnancy as well as increasing women’s access to breast cancer screenings. As a CEO, I managed a staff of 15-plus people, balanced budgets over $3 million, conducted successful fundraising drives, and built statewide coalitions. 

Why do you wish to serve on the BVS CSD? 

As a member of the Infrastructure Committee, it’s clear that we face some serious challenges. Water, roads, fire safety and sustainability for the next 50 years are critical. And we must have a serious discussion about a second exit. I’m a good listener, I always do my research and I understand budgeting, traits that are essential for addressing these issues and figuring out how to pay for them.

As a board member I will work with residents to arrive at answers for everyone.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for Bear Valley Springs and that are important to you for the future health of the district? 

(1) More transparency. (2) Better resident communication; and (3) a budget process that allows for early and consistent input. Not everyone uses social media, and not everyone can come to meetings. If we are going to solve problems — for today and the next 50 years — our long-term solutions must reflect robust community involvement.

Moreover, with only one way in and one way out, what to do and where to go if fire threatens? I’ve heard that from many, and “shelter in place” cannot be the only answer. I share this concern. But anything “new” will be expensive. We can work together to solve this.

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Name: Steve Miles

Age: 69

Employment: Retired; Veteran USMC SSgt 1971-77; Former Air Traffic Controller USMC/FAA; sales and marketing manager Wrigley Gum Company/Land America Commonwealth.

Why do you wish to serve on the BVS CSD? 

My wife and I have lived in Bear Valley Springs for over 20 years and have seen the CSD mismanaged the entire time. Over and over again past CSD boards have done nothing to anticipate infrastructure needs. We are now at a critical point where funding for needed updates to our infrastructure is not available. Since I am now retired i have the time needed to dedicate to this position. I believe we are at a critical crossroads. History tells us the residents do not want new taxes/fees. We have three choices.

1. Do nothing and fall into deficit spending

2. Raise taxes/fees

3. Find new streams of income

Number 1 and 2 are unacceptable. With number 3 we can fix our roads and water, keep our police department and move Bear Valley forward. The CSD is sitting on land that could be subdivided for more homes, thus increasing the tax base. Provide RV and personal storage for a monthly fee. Charge market value pricing to out-of-area water users. Restructure all departments of the CSD. These are just a few ideas to increase income so our infrastructure can be fixed. 

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