February 17, 2004 > Interview with Anjali Lathi, Appointed Incumbent, Ward 3 Union Sanitary District
Interview with Anjali Lathi, Appointed Incumbent, Ward 3 Union Sanitary District
TCV: First of all, what is your background? How long have you been on the board? What have you accomplished?
AL: My background is as an attorney. I've taken a break from practicing laws for the past six or seven years and been focusing on community service. Prior to that, I was a deputy district attorney for a couple of years and defense council for schools and a community college district.
TCV: What types of issues have you been dealing with on the board?
AL: Well the main issue really last year was the selection of a General Manager, that was one of our highlights really since our general manager of 18 years, Stephen Hayashi, retired. We spent a significant amount of time looking at candidates and ended up making a very well-received decision to promote the person who was essentially, second in command, Rich Curry. Everybody was very pleased with that decision.
The other main things are continuing funding for long term infrastructure needs. We oversaw the construction of a safety training center that's been receiving regional praise and attention. Several agencies throughout the Bay Area are contacting us wanting to use our center. And we are continuing our support of the Hayward Marsh.
TCV: What does the sanitary district do?
AL: It's something that we take for granted. Our agency is an award-winning agency, and people don't hear about us because everything works fine. We collect and treat clean or dispose of waste water- anything that's connected to a sewer. We take care of many state and federal regulations concerning what can be in that water when we dispose of it.
TCV: So is it eventually disposed to the bay?
AL: Yes, and ours goes up to an area by the Hayward Marsh. It's a huge outfall, about four or five feet wide. It goes about seven miles out into the bay. By the time we discharge it out there, it's highly diluted, so we're not affecting marine life in any way.
TCV: What's the area that you handle?
AL: We handle the Tri-Cities, Union City, Newark, and Fremont.
TCV: You have competition for this spot. Do you have the support of your other board members?
AL: I do. I do have the support of the chair and the vice chair. The other two board members have decided to stay neutral. I believe it's because they know my opponent personally and are friends with him. So they decided to stay neutral. I also have the endorsement and support of our previous General Manager Vicki Harris, who I mentioned, just retired.
TCV: Where do you meet and how often?
AL: We meet twice a month, the second and fourth Monday at seven o'clock at our plant in Union City.
TCV: How many people are on the board?
TCV: Are you the only one up for reelection?
AL: No. Actually there are three of us; one Fremont seat was up this time. The Newark Seat and Union City seat were also up. Newark's representative, Pat Kite, who is our Chair, does not have an opponent at this time.
TCV: Why are you interested in this position?
AL: It is a fascinating field. We are on the forefront of environmental protection and protection of public health. It is probably a good thing that you aren't hearing much about us since we are going very well.
When the board unanimously elected me a year and a half ago, it was because they thought I was the most qualified, in large part because of my legal background and my ability to work with a team and with different segments of society and my analytical skills. My legal background is a very good compliment to the diversity of the board. We have excellent staff to deal with the technical issues and we are an award winning agency, not only in the environmental area, but in many others as well. We have one technical person on the board. If we put too many technical people on the board, it can lead to micromanaging.
Over the last year and a half, the only thing that has changed for me is that I have become more qualified. I have learned a tremendous amount about the waste water industry and been working well with the board. I want to continue my work and continue to support our staff in pursuing innovative techniques and continuing to be a leader in the industry and keep abreast of the changing regulatory landscape. It is important that our legislators be educated about what is really necessary in our field.
We face workforce planning challenges and have been working on that for the last couple of years. We also need to deal with increasing regulations and disposal of "biosolids." There are a significant number of resources being devoted to solving this issue.
Our rates are among the lowest in the Bay Area. Neighboring cities pay almost twice as much or more than we do. We are quite a bargain for our customers. Our capacity fees are among the lowest. Our agency is very efficient and cost effective.