Hello, my name is Kumar Chaudhari and I am a candidate for the board of directors for Palo Alto Park Mutual Water Company. I have lived in East Palo Alto for eight years and, except for the water, love living here. I am a teacher at Woodside High School.
My main role at my school is as a special education teacher. I also teach algebra to students who traditionally struggle with mathematics, and run our fledgling maker space as well. Part of the reason that I have so many roles is that, throughout my teaching career, I have been a go-to person when something needs to be figured out and it needs to be done well. I’ve learned how to develop effective teams, cultivate resources to assist me, and how to facilitate improvement within bureaucratic organizations. This is what I will bring to the board, this ability to problem solve and get things done.
For most of the eight years of living here, I’ve always been concerned about the quality of water, but also thought it was just something that I had to accept and just work around. More recently, one of my neighbors approached me and asked if I’d be willing to help out in their effort to improve the water service in our area. This story, from a trusted neighbor, was almost unbelievable. At the first meeting of the Neighbors for Better Water, I heard story after story that insulted my sense of justice. As I went into the community, I continued to hear story upon story of individuals simply being wronged, and of a company abusing their power through questionable practices and incompetence. I came to realize that these stories were the norm, not the exception, and that Palo Alto Park Mutual Water Company, whose sole purpose for existence should be serving the water needs of its residents and homeowners, was not doing so. Sure, I could just live with it, like I have for the past many years, but my sense of justice and commitment to being a good member of this community called for more action and I eventually decided to take on a larger role and offer to serve on the board of directors in order to help to make the changes that this community deserves.
As such, my priorities will be:
- Eliminate the conflicts of interest that interfere with the proper oversight of our water company
- Make the company’s finances and rate structures, status of infrastructure, and decision making transparent to the public
- Implement the changes that have been advised by the California State Water Resources Control Board in order to improve water quality
- Work toward steady incremental improvements to fix the infrastructure that is currently being neglected (inoperable pumps, leaky tanks, and poor piping)
- Actively work to mend the conflictual working relationship with the city of East Palo Alto in order to facilitate improvement of the streets and the general standard of living in our neighborhoods