Michael Frantz, TID Division 1 Director Candidate Questionnaire/Profile
What is your position on raising rates and why?
I oppose rate increases in favor of cutting expenses and improving efficiencies. That has been my record during my two years at TID. I led the fight to stop management bonuses, to keep our operations and maintenance costs at zero increase (for first time in 30 years) and forced refinance of district debt to save ratepayers millions. Our competitive rates (TID has some of the lowest rates in the state, (15-20% cheaper than statewide averages) are critically important to attract new jobs in the area. However, the state continues to increase the mandate of higher and higher percentages of much more expensive “Green” Power. As a businessman, I know we cannot spend what we do not have. But governing is about sticking it out through the tough times and making the difficult decisions that will create better times.
During the last TID election, merit pay was an issue as our economy continued to negatively affect the average citizen financially. Since then, discussion and action regarding merit pay has taken place publicly, but what are your feelings on what has been done about this issue and do you have any other issues with employee wages, benefits, etc (i.e. salary levels, pay cuts or lack of, pension reform, etc)?
I have voted to rescind pay raises during my two years of board service. I believe that these are tough times, and we must all do our part to keep rates down during this economic crisis. Merit pay simply means that those that work extra hard, and go the extra mile for the district are given raises. Those that do not are not given a raise. When times improve and we consider raises, I will insist that they go to the people who most deserve them. On pensions, TID is like most other public agencies. We need to make the system sustainable or we will see substantially altered rates in the future.
Also in the past, TID Candidates were asked if they would be in favor of changing the TID Board Meeting time from 9:00am on Tuesday to a later time such as 5:30pm so people who work can attend. All candidates said that they would be in favor of at least looking at the possibility but nothing has been agendized or discussed with public action since then (about 2 years ago). TID is a public agency, and its business should be done in the public. I strongly support honesty and transparency in everything we do at the district. I have no problem with night meetings and would support an effort to identify the cost of holding such meetings.
Would you be in favor of making the meeting time more accessible to the public? Why or Why not? And would you follow it up with action, unlike the previous candidates/current Board of Directors?
I would be willing to consider a change, but would want to see the cost studied. Staff members are needed at our meetings, and if we were required to pay overtime it may be costly. We currently DO hold evening meetings for topics of public interest, such as power line routes, rate hearings, and water allocations. Again, I have no issue with formally discussing and acting on this.
What about video recording the meetings and posting them on a website, as most other government agencies do?
Again, I would be willing to consider this. If evening meetings prove to be too costly, this may be an excellent way for us to make our meetings available to those who cannot attend. We may be able to double up with the city or schools and utilize facilities already geared for audio visual.
For those of us who don’t know, what is TID and/or what is it about?
TID is a publicly owned agency that stores & delivers agriculture water to the Eastern half of the Central Valley, and is an electric utility serving just under 100,000 customers. Formed in 1887, TID has a rich history of transforming the greater Turlock area from dry land wheat farms to the orchards and dairies we see today. Our historic water rights, and low electric rates have enabled the Central Valley to thrive economically.
What do you feel the duties of a TID Board Member are?
The TID is governed by a elected five member board of directors. They set policy for the district, and approve the budget. I take my position very seriously, I am an advocate for the ratepayer. TID directors are the stewards of our water and power, and first line of defense for that tremendous resource.
What made you decide to run for a TID Board of Directors’ position this election?
I am not a politician. I have not run for other offices like school board or even considered others like county supervisor. I am not a perennial candidate looking to be elected or appointed. I am running to continue the legacy of our forefathers, of bringing affordable water and power to our community. Our valley cannot prosper without plentiful water supplies. Our community must have affordable electric rates to attract industry and jobs. That is what I believe, and that is why Turlock leaders such as Mayor Lazar and prior Mayor Curt Andre are supporting me. I believe that my skill sets that have enabled me to cut cost and grow my family’s business can serve the ratepayers well. This is my home. My wife and children and family and neighbors are my greatest motivation.
List Top 5 Biographical Highlights:
Father of two, Happily Married, grew family business, Appointed to TID Board in 2009, Board member of numerous groups giving me significant leadership experience ((see attachment) .
List Top 3 Priorities:
The three most pressing issues facing TID today are rates, excessive state mandates that are driving up cost, and ensuring a relicensing of Don Pedro that is satisfactory to the district. We need to continue to cut cost wherever we can.
What do you feel you have to offer that the other candidate may not?
TID is a very complex organization. I have served on the board for two years, and have devoted myself to learning all that I can about the district. I still have more to learn. I have extensive experience running a company with over 100 employees, and I understand complicated financials. I have never ran for another elected office, nor do I view this position as a stepping stone for another office. I am committed to TID, and ensuring that it is well run for the ratepayer. Unlike my opponent, I oppose granting voting & water rights to people outside our existing water boundaries and thereby reducing the water allocations of existing customers. I believe the original boundaries of TID should remain intact. Property owners mortgaged their farms a century ago to build this district; to significantly reduce their water allocations would be an injustice.
Do you have anything to add or contribute to the current TID Board of Directors?
I am currently on the Board of Directors, and have served since 2009. I have been a strong voice and vote on the board for accountability.
What issues do you feel need to be addressed more than they already are? Are there any problems or is there anything that you feel needs to be fixed/ changed concerning TID or TID customers?
I have focused on two themes during my time on the board: Running TID like it was my own company. That means tightening our belts during these difficult times. As a businessman, I understand that you can’t spend money that you don’t have. My second priority is to continually remind staff that TID is owned by the public, and our existence is to serve our owner ratepayers. That means improving customer service in every area we can.
Key Endorsements (up to 5):
Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Mayor Lazar, Supervisor Vito Cheisa, former Mayor Curt Andre, Mr. Randy Fiorini among hundreds of others
Complete List of Endorsements (as of time submitted):
Arlon & Susan Waterson
Bart & Eric Muller
Bill & Carolyn Ahlem
Bob & Joelle Triebsch
Brad & Kristi Nyman
Brett & Camy Honore
Chris & Agnes Sawyer
Chris & Jen Handy
Eric & Becca Gonsalves
Dr. Curt Andre
Dave & Bonnie Muller
Don & Carol Smith
Dwayne & Shirley Larson
Frank & Marie Assali
Jennifer & Ken Bethel
Jan & Peter Lindquist
Jim & Anita Duarte
Jim & Judy Chance
John & Alex Duarte
John & Jeani Ferarri
Luke & Amy Miller
Mark & Cyndi Virtue
Matthew & Cathy Scott
Mike & Erin Dini
Nick & Matt Short
Norman & Karen Crow
Rich & Pam Gemperle
Richard & Sharon Clauss
Scott & Chrissy Stiles
Stanislaus county republican central committee
Steve & Nancy Jaureguy
Thad & Amy Phillips
Vance & Ashley Ahlem
Position Papers (specific views on specific issues) or Candidate Statements (equal to an intro at a debate or a short speech of what you’d like to communicate without being edited):
In 2009, I was deeply honored to be appointed to the TID Board of Directors.
As the owner and operator of Frantz Wholesale Nursery, I know how important water and power are to the agricultural and economic future of our communities.
I have worked in the family nursery business since high school. Over the years, our business has grown to more than 120 employees and over 300 acres of container growing production. Hard work, integrity and sound decisions made our business successful.
During my time on the TID Board of Directors, I have worked to contain operations and maintenance costs at the district. I have also fought hard to secure the relicensing of Don Pedro Hydroelectric Project. I am proud to have been able to help our area maintain its water and power needs.
My wife and I have two boys, Landon and Braden. The economic future for my boys, and indeed all of us depends on maintaining TID’s affordable water and power supply. Maintaining our water supply is the key to our quality of life and should I be honored with election to the TID Board of Directors that will be my utmost priority.
Complete Bio (please include contact information the voters may reach you at):
MICHAEL J. FRANTZ
CO-OWNER, MANAGING PARTNER
FRANTZ WHOLESALE NURSERY, LLC
Michael graduated from Brethren Heritage High School in 1996. He attended classes at Modesto Junior College and became employed by the family nursery business.
Frantz’s parents founded Frantz Wholesale Nursery, LLC in 1978, and trained their son in all aspects of the business. Michael worked in various departments in his teenage years, and was appointed managing partner in 1998, and later elevated to Chief Executive Officer upon his father’s retirement in 2000. Under Michael’s leadership company revenues have increased over 400%, and grew from 40 acres to over 300 in container growing production. Frantz Wholesale Nursery, LLC employs more than 120 people and is a premier supplier to landscape contractors, retail nurseries and chain stores in California.
In 1999, Michael was appointed to the board of directors of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, (CANGC), and over the next few years served on its Insurance, Political Action, and Science Committees. He was elected President of the Yosemite Chapter of CANGC in 2004.
Responding to the surge in workers compensation rates in 2005, Michael was a founding board member of California Agricultural Network, a self-insured workers compensation group serving nurseries and farms throughout the state of California. His leadership in this venture has substantially reduced premium cost and claims for his family business.
In 2005 he agreed to serve as a director of the Nursery Growers Association, (NGA), a Southern California based industry association, and continues to sit on their board of directors. He is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Class 36. In 2009 Michael was elected to the position of director for the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. Michael is a member of the Agricultural Advisory Board for California State University, Stanislaus. He has generously contributed his time and expertise for many years in working with other industry leaders, the academic community and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service to develop new standards for tree varieties and nursery growing practices.
Michael was appointed in 2009 to the Specialty Crops Advisory Board by Secretary A. G. Kawamura, California Department of Food and Agriculture. This board has been especially enjoyable for him, to participate with leaders from around the state in awarding block grants to benefit specialty crops production.
Frantz’s business and home are located in Hickman, (near Modesto), on the banks of the Tuolumne River, and as an avid fisherman and boater, he is sensitive to the surrounding environment and recognizes the importance of maintaining high environmental standards in his business practices. His commitment to excellent environmental stewardship is reflected in his company’s management practices such as an elaborate water recycling facility, integrated pest management practices, composting green waste, and many other voluntary measures.
Michael and his wife Kristy have two boys, Landon and Braden.