The Groveland Community Services District Board of Directors has hired Pete Kampa to serve as interim general manager and could appoint someone to fill a vacant board seat at a special public meeting on Saturday.
Nancy Mora and Lawrence Soe submitted applications to fill a vacancy created by the departure of former GCSD director Scott Wemmer. The two candidates will be interviewed by the board at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Tenaya Elementary School cafeteria, located at 19177 Highway 120 in Groveland.
The board will consider making a selection after conducting the interviews and receiving public input.
Soe previously applied for a seat on the GCSD board in November when there were two vacancies, but he had to withdraw from the running because he was not registered to vote in the county at the time.
County Clerk Debi Bautista confirmed that Soe registered to vote online Wednesday, the final day that applications could be submitted for the vacancy on the GCSD board. All directors must live in the district and be registered to vote in the county.
Soe is an engineer for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and works out of Moccasin. He lives in Pine Mountain Lake most of the time but previously lived in the Bay Area, where he was registered to vote before Wednesday.
Bautista said that Soe used a South San Francisco mailing address for his registration.
In a phone interview, Soe said he didn’t realize the meeting was Saturday and had been planning to go sailing in the Bay Area because he had a four-day weekend. He said that he would have to change his plans and return to Groveland on Saturday.
Soe said he wasn’t encouraged to apply for the seat by anyone. He said that he originally applied in November after receiving a letter from the district soliciting potential applicants.
After Soe was forced to drop out last time, the GCSD board appointed Spencer Edwards to one of the vacancies. The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors appointed Janice Kwiatkowski to fill the remaining vacancy in December.
Soe, who listed his age as “mid life” on his application, said he became interested in applying again after Wemmer’s surprise resignation in January. Wemmer cited undue public scrutiny on his family and their businesses as his reason for leaving.
“Everything that keeps coming out in the news is people quitting and it sounds like there’s some issues with people not seeing eye to eye,” Soe said. “I don’t know any of them, I don’t know any backgrounds or whose connected to who, so I figured I’ll be able to help out.”
If appointed, Soe said he will have to inform the city of San Francisco to avoid any potential conflicts of interest because GCSD purchases its water supply from the city out of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and Cherry Lake.
Soe said many SFPUC employees have served for public agencies in areas covered by the utility, which stretches from the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the Bay Area.
“There’s no way around it,” Soe said. “If I have to make decisions (as a GCSD director) on things that might affect SFPUC projects, I may have to recuse myself.”
Mora, 60, could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon, but her application stated she retired three years ago and moved back to California from Texas. She has an address within the district and has been registered to vote in the county since 2016, according to Bautista.
Mora’s resume stated she has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and worked for 20 years at Quebecor World, a large commercial printer, where she managed customer service and paper departments and oversaw a staff of 16 people.
She also worked in sales for Commercial Metals, an international steel company, and as an account manager for SUCCESS Partners, the publisher of a magazine specializing in multi-level marketing companies.
Mora said she served on the boards of the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre and her homeowners association while living in Texas. She stated in a letter attached to her resume that she would no regular conflicts from allowing her to attend the GCSD’s board monthly scheduled meetings.
“I’m interested in joining the GCSD board for a couple reasons,” Mora wrote in the letter. “First, we’ve recently moved back to California, and I look forward to getting involved and meeting new people. Secondly, I’ve always felt it’s important to participate, or give back to your community.”
Meanwhile, Kampa has been serving as interim GM of the district since Feb. 1. He previously served as general manager of Tuolumne Utilities District, the largest water purveyor in the county.
Kampa said he also serves as the general manager of four other small community services districts in the communities of Lake Don Pedro, Copperopolis, Arbuckle, and Hornbrook near the Oregon border.
“The more I do these, the more I see they are all dealing with the same issues,” Kampa said. “I’m just replicating strategies from one place to another.”
Former full-time General Manager Jon Sterling retired at the end of last year to work in the private sector. The GCSD board awarded him a contract in January to work as a backup water and wastewater treatment plant operator at $65 an hour and only when needed.
Greg Dunn, the chief plant operator, is currently the only employee with the proper certifications to operate the plant and comes in a couple hours each day on the weekends to meet state requirements.
Kampa said the goal is to have other employees certified by the summer.
The district is paying Kampa $110 an hour not to exceed $115,000 in a six-month period. He said the district was previously seeking a full-time GM for between $115,000 to $135,000 a year, though he doesn’t expect his billing for a whole year to reach that level.
There is a meeting of the board’s GM recruitment ad hoc committee scheduled for 10 a.m. February 23 at the district office on Ferretti Road, though Kampa said the board could also decide to keep him on at his hourly rate.
Public meetings are also scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 26 and 10 a.m. March 8 to discuss the role of the GM moving forward, as well as the norms and protocols for the board.
Kampa said he looks forward to having a full board because the district has a number of major upcoming projects.
Those projects include a sewer rate study estimated for completion by the end of March, an $8 million renovation of the wastewater collection system in downtown Groveland, Big Oak Flat, and sections of Pine Mountain Lake, and $5 million relocation of the water lines in Groveland away from Highway 49 to improve accessibility for maintenance.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.