A group of citizens believes the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District is broken, and they can play a role in fixing it.
More than a dozen constituents for the embattled water district met at the Clements firehouse Wednesday evening to discuss how to improve the public's perception of the district and improve the outlook for its future.
The meeting, hosted by Lodi resident Toni Miller, focused on a positive approach rather than a negative campaign. While the members of Wednesday's meeting agree they want to see board Chairman Bryan Pilkington out of power, they are opposed to a recall effort or legal action against him.
Instead, the group focused on building an informational website and encouraging their friends to attend district meetings to educate themselves.
"If we go negative, it could backfire, and then nothing will get done," said Miller.
Aaron Lange, of LangeTwins Winery, identified a lack of leadership, little money for infrastructure and minimal public support as the biggest hurdles the district needs to overcome. Lange said he is willing to create a website with factual data about the district, the region's depleted groundwater basin and why the district matters to help build public support.
The website will likely be up and running in several months, he said. While Lange said he has much of the data for a website already compiled, he wants to run figures by county officials to make sure everything is accurate.
The board members themselves were also discussed during the gathering.
"I think we've made great in-roads with Marden Wilbur and Hugh Scanlon," said Robb Hoag about the two district board members who were endorsed by Pilkington in the November election and consistently vote with him on issues. "I'm Hugh's neighbor, and he can't hardly be out in his front yard without people coming up to him and talking to him about the issues of the district."
Public outreach and positive reinforcement will help heal old wounds between the public and the district, Lange said.
"We need to be there at meetings and support them when they do something we feel is right, and be there with pitchforks when they do something that doesn't benefit the district," he said.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.