February 17, 2004 > Interview with Jeevan Zutshi, candidate for Union Sanitary District, Ward 3
Interview with Jeevan Zutshi, candidate for Union Sanitary District, Ward 3
TCV: What made you decide to run for this office and what do you think you bring to it?
JZ: First of all my educational background. I earned a Master's degree in Civil and Water Resources Engineering from San Jose State University. In terms of professional experience in a related field, I spent nearly 20 years of my professional career working with infrastructure and treatment facilities and my decades of business experience has provided me with the know how to run the District economically and efficiently.
I have been actively involved with our community for many years; I served as a Human Relations Commissioner for Alameda County; Transit Advisory Committee of the City of Fremont, Union City and Newark; Member, Board of Directors, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, and Ohlone College Foundation; I served on the Board of Directors of the Tri-City Homeless Coalition. I was an Appointee of the Attorney General Bill Lockyear, I served on the Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crime and was appointed by Speaker of Assembly to serve on the State Departmental Transportation Advisory Committee which oversees Caltrans, in 2000, which is the California Department of Transportation for a four-year term. I am completing my four years in July.
I founded the Indo-American Community Federation eight years back to help Indo-Americans become part of the mainstream and to become a part of the diaspora.
I organize an annual celebration, which is called the "Unity Dinner", to bring together diverse community members together along with public officials to recognize and celebrate unity in diversity.
TCV: Are there any immediate problems that you want to see addressed.
JZ: In fact, the Union Sanitary District is a low profile Board and not many people really know about it. I look at that as bad news because sometimes it is by design that some Boards are very low profile, I am sure that there are always issues.
Unfortunately with what I saw first of all with the process that took place last year when they had an opening on the Board, puts some doubts in my mind. My interview went very well. My background matches perfectly with the Union Sanitary District, because of my education and experience.
Pat Kite is a Republican and she is also the President of the Board representing Newark, and there is one guy, Mr. Smith, who is also an appointed Director. He has never been elected - he is running now - who is also a Republican and we have two Democrats, Jennifer Toy and Dan Wilkowsky. The Board was basically divided between two Democrats and two Republicans and all of us Democrats who went for the interview were not selected.
Now I understand I probably had two votes, out of the four - the others had one. Still, the Board decided to search for more qualified candidates. They went for another round of interviews, but the original applicants were not brought back for another interview. I immediately knew that there was something wrong, that they do not want us. In the second round, they appointed this young lady, who I am sure is a bright qualified young lady, but now, later on, I learned that they took her because she was a Republican.
On issue which is on my mind is the about the Newark School District. The Newark School District hooked up to the Union Sanitary District without permission last year. They were building some cafeterias, swimming pools and stuff like that and they just hooked up to the Union Sanitary system without permission and did not pay the normal fees which you have to pay during the school construction. Our representative from Fremont should have made it an issue.
I also have another successive planning issue: The Union Sanitary District has an aging workforce. And you know, as the work force grows older, young men and women are not going into the trades so this creates a problem for our area, a safety problem since we need to have trained plumbers, trained workers to build and maintain the system. What you need to do is to reach out, go to Silicon Valley College, go to Devry, go to Ohlone College, go to other institutions and attract youths and new employees.
Another important issue is the Bio-solid problem, now you might wonder what happens when you process sewage. You have an after-product, called "sludge" that's also referred to as bio-solid. Union Sanitary District has a two year contract with Central Valley and the contract is coming up for renewal. There is no long term disposal contract in place. Recently Solano County announced that they no longer will accept other cities' bio-solids. So the question is, where are they going to take the sludge?
I understand that there is going to be a hike in the Sanitary District charges. I don't know what percentage and that's bad news. On one hand the Union Sanity District says they are financially stable, but on the other hand they are not proving to us that they are stable,
I will work with businesses such as Dryers Ice Cream and try to see why they are leaving and why lot of businesses like restaurants are not moving in. It is because of the impact fees, they charge a lot of money, especially when a restaurant moves in, I don't know it is like $50, 40, 50k for a first time hook up fee. We don't hear about them, you don't read anything in the newspapers about USD or Water Board , that is why nobody knows about it, but if someone like me goes on the Board, you will know about it, it will be in the paper everyday.
I understand that they have short meetings on the Board. They have lots of meetings because I understand they get paid, I heard something like $200 or $250 every meeting. This needs to be investigated.