To the Editor:
I urge Mesquite voters to elect Barbara Ellestad to the Virgin Valley Water District board on November 4. Barbara’s work background is not specifically water management, and this is her first time to run for a public office. That said, I endorse her candidacy because of her vast understanding of the workings of VVWD gained over the past 7 years as she attended nearly every board meeting, first as reporter for Mesquite Local News and later as editor of her own online news source, Mesquite Citizen Journal. Under her watchful eye, the public conduct of affairs of the water district were clearly reported to the community. She didn’t stop there. She delved into the back stories of the dealings for water shares and other matters of critical importance that eventually cost VVWD an estimated $12million when water district employees conspired with a water share owner to inflate share prices for their own benefit. Criminal and civil cases were brought against those individuals, with VVWD awarded about $4.9million in judgments when the accused settled civil charges this year. Her investigative reporting prompted the accused to try to discredit her by bringing suit against her, using baseless and frivolous legal tactics to claim the Mesquite Citizen Journal was not a “newspaper.” Barbara was obligated to spend thousands of dollars of her own personal funds to defend herself in three cases that were found by judges to be without merit. The thousands of readers of her website, mesquitecitizen.com, certainly would concur with the judgments in her favor. A high percentage of people in Mesquite came to depend on her and MCJ to report in-depth, accurate details on the management of our public utilities. As the only daily news source in town, the reliability of her facts was backed by videos of those meetings that she posted online. Barbara’s critical skills in researching and analyzing situations are sorely needed on the VVWD board where past oversight indicates a lack of depth in asking the right questions of management in essential functions of operations. During current candidate forums, VVWD incumbents have said the district lacks proper sets of procedures for basic operations. Incumbents say proper maintenance of wells and equipment has not been done for years. Who was supposed to be asking questions to safeguard our water system, if not the incumbent VVWD board? Who was supposed to be managing the water managers and their stewardship of our most valuable resource? The current situation with failing wells and pumps and huge debts that are forcing consideration of sizable rate increases didn’t happen overnight. For many years our VVWD board has needed stronger representation for our community as a whole. The water board is tasked with making sure we have water for our community, and water rates need to be fair to businesses and homeowners, not penalize one group or another. Barbara has a very clear grasp of issues facing VVWD, and would be an ethical board member who does her homework. She deserves your vote.