Our View | Endorsements: District Attorney, Water

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By The Signal Editorial Board

One in a continuing series of editorial endorsements for the November 2020 election:

Over the past several weeks, we have offered our endorsements in a variety of campaigns on the Nov. 3 general election ballot: On  Sept. 19, we published our endorsements for the state legislative seats representing the Santa Clarita Valley, and on Sept. 26 we offered endorsements for the governing boards of the William S. Hart Union High School District and College of the Canyons. You can find those editorials online at

Today, we are adding our endorsements in two categories that are important to the SCV: law and order, and water.

L.A. County District Attorney

Jackie Lacey

We are endorsing the longtime prosecutor for re-election as L.A. County district attorney, based on her track record and her commitment to keeping L.A. County residents safe.

An L.A. native and graduate of USC Law School, Lacey is both the first woman and the first African American to serve as L.A. County’s district attorney since the office was established 170 years ago. 

First elected in 2012, Lacey has focused on public safety and justice for all, having established the county’s Conviction Review Unit to investigate claims of wrongful convictions in cases where newly discovered evidence has surfaced. 

Her campaign website lists her priorities: “District Attorney Lacey’s top priority is keeping the streets of Los Angeles County safe from violent and dangerous criminals. She is committed to safeguarding our children from human sex traffickers, our seniors from financial elder abuse and our communities from environmental crimes that threaten our health and our livelihood.”

We concur with those priorities, and we encourage you to cast your vote to re-elect Lacey as district attorney on Nov. 3.

Santa Clarita Valley
Water Agency

SCV Water has a dozen candidates vying for six open seats, in an election that is part of the agency’s plan to reduce the size of the board through attrition over the next few years.

When the new agency was formed in 2018, merging the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District, the resulting combined board had 15 members, most of whom were publicly elected but several of whom were appointees of the SCV’s water retailers. 

After the 2020 and 2022 elections, that number will be reduced to nine, with all board members being elected by the public. The new structure will have three board members in each of three geographically based electoral divisions. 

To oversee the management of our valley’s water supply, we advocate a board that has a solid cross-section of experience including engineering and technical expertise, as well as business acumen and experience. We believe the following candidates provide just such a mix.

Here are our endorsements for the water board election on Nov. 3, when voters will have the opportunity to choose two directors in each division:

Division No. 1

Gary Martin

Karla Waymire

Division No. 1 offers voters a specific opportunity to elect two board members who have the aforementioned combination of complementary skills and background:

Martin, an incumbent board member, is a civil engineer and former water system engineering manager.  

Waymire, who would be a newcomer to the board, is a small business owner and attorney.

Division No. 2

Piotr Orzechowski

Orzechowski, another newcomer, is an environmental water programs engineer for Princess Cruises, whose headquarters are right here in Santa Clarita. Considering the stringent environmental regulations cruise ships must comply with, his professional experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

Division No. 3

BJ Atkins

Maria Gutzeit

Atkins and Gutzeit are both long-term local public servants and water agency board members with valuable experience and institutional knowledge of the complex array of systems and storage facilities that ensure the SCV has an adequate supply of quality water, even in times of drought.

Thanks to their efforts and those of the agency’s staff to acquire and maintain a diverse water supply portfolio, the SCV has consistently weathered droughts with minimal impact on residents.

Atkins founded the consulting firm Environmental HELP Inc. in 1989.

Gutzeit is a business owner and the current vice president of the SCV Water board. 

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