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Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 11:06 PM

ANDY VIDAK: Politicians have failed entire state on water issues

Water is the lifeblood of our Central Valley, and whoever wins this election will be representing over 900,000 people in Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare counties on this vital issue.

The economy in our Valley is driven by agriculture and that means we must have water. You don't need to drive a tractor to depend on agriculture for your livelihood. People who work in banks, stores, restaurants and other types of businesses rely on farming to buy their goods and services. Governments depend on the sales taxes from these transactions as well as the income and property taxes of farmers for a significant part of their revenue as well.

I grew up and attended school here, including Fresno State, before I graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelors Degree in Animal and Food Sciences. I came back to the Valley I love and went to work in farming. I started in the fields and worked my way up. I scrimped and saved, and in 1997 I bought a small 20-acre cherry orchard where I live and work today.

I just don't talk about agriculture and water issues, I live them every day of my life.

We depend on Mother Nature for water in the form of rain and snow, but we depend on the state and federal governments to build the infrastructure necessary to deliver that water to communities and farms throughout California. Simply put, the politicians have failed us. We haven't built any new water storage in decades and that's what's meant when we say "man-made drought" or "government-created drought."

My water plan is simple. Build new water storage and devise a solution to the Bay Delta problem so we no longer shut down the pumps that bring water from the north to the south.

Therefore, I support building the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels so we provide a reliable source of clean water to our Valley, constructing water storage at Temperance Flats and keeping additional reservoirs in the upcoming state water bond. For too long, the liberal ruling elite in Sacramento has listened to a small group of radical environmentalists who believe protecting a fingerling bait fish is more important than putting food on the tables for Valley residents.

Now is the time for strong, principled leadership to give voice to the overwhelming majority of folks in the Valley who are tired of business-as-usual politics in Sacramento. Who better to do that job than a farmer like myself?

We need to help the 160,300 people who are out of work in Kern, Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties so they can find a good-paying job. I've seen proud friends of mine standing in food lines waiting for handouts just so they can feed their families. I was astounded when they showed me the cans of carrots imported from China they received. That shouldn't happen in the most productive agricultural valley in the world.

Send a farmer to do a politician's job. I'll fight to bring back our water.

Andy Vidak, a Hanford-area cherry grower, is a candidate for the state Senate's vacant 16th District seat.

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