Mary Burke: All about serving on the McKinleyville Community Services District

Now is the right time to talk about who we want to elect into a leadership role in McKinleyville. There are two four-year seats and one two-year seat up for election at McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) and the opportunity to put your name in the hat is here now and until Aug. 12. 

A position on the board is incredibly enriching and engaging. As a board member you will learn the full scope of services MCSD provides as well as what opportunities there are for people willing to play a leadership role in our community. 

This is MCSD’s 50th year anniversary and we can celebrate MCSD’s excellent staff, new fantastic general manager, and a forward-looking set of board policies and capital improvement projects. Our Community Services District has a host of exciting projects that we are working on: our strategic plan prioritizes emergency preparedness and we have a new water storage tank project underway; we are working towards being able to add a community forest to our open space inventory; we are underway with designs for a micro-grid project; we are actively replacing aging infrastructure; and are supportive of the development of a long-awaited skatepark.

As an MCSD director your role is to work as a part of a 5-person board to establish policy and work with the general manager to provide direction for the District’s future. In addition, board members are the voice of our community for a number of committees and liaison positions. 

If you wish to know more about how your MCSD directors perform in our community, read what has been reported about their service on the MCSD board and in their Active Committee appointment positions:

• Recreation Advisory Committee – Couch; alternate Mayo

• McKinleyville Area Fund –Barsanti

• Redwood Region Economic Development Commission –Mayo, alternate Burke

• McKinleyville Senior Center – Barsanti; alternate Burke 

• McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee – Burke; alternate Mayo

• Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission – Couch

Given our recent investment in a new wastewater treatment plant and active replacement of infrastructure, I propose that our community will greatly benefit from the service of people who have the skills and experience to help advance a vision of stewardship for MCSD’s public lands that are a part of the broader network of McKinleyville’s open spaces. 

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We need people who understand the importance of the protection of our water and other natural resources to provide for a healthy community and environment.

In addition to the services provided in our community, MCSD has a voice at the state and federal legislative level. During and prior to my tenure, directors and our general manager have tracked and worked on legislative matters that affect Special Districts such as ours and that address the way water in north coast rivers is viewed by the state legislature. 

MCSD’s recently retired General Manager Greg Orsini was board Chair of the California Special Districts Association (CSDA) which lobbies at the state level using input from special district board members and general managers across the state. Recently, the first legislation to recognize special districts at the federal level was brought before Congress for funding special districts in the CARES Act. 

MCSD’s presence at the state level brings attention to small rural water agencies’ role and makes our voice heard. Directors have the opportunity to sit on committees that affect legislative activities such as within the CSDA and at the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). At ACWA, MCSD directors can “sit around the table” with the largest of water agencies in our state, such as Westlands Water District – to speak up for protecting our North Coast water resources. 

Whether the board is addressing a local issue or statewide issue, our community needs diverse and skilled representation. In November, please vote for people who have earned your respect and who you trust to represent your community. 

Skills and qualifications are important, but often fall short if not accompanied by being willing and able to work well as a member of the board, to put aside ideology, and make decisions about how best to provide essential services to everyone in our community into the future.

Three newly elected board members will join Directors Couch and Mayo in 2021. The following election will see three more seats up for election – this is due to the cycle of filling the late Director Wheeler’s seat by appointment just over one year ago. Director Corbett has signaled the end of 20 years of service on MCSD’s board and I have made the difficult decision not to run for re-election. 

I close this appeal to my community for their participation in local governance with a thank you to all of you for your communications and support from the start of my campaign and throughout my term. 

Mary Burke is an outgoing member of the mighty McKinleyville Community Services District.



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