By Michael Downes
Recently New Mexico 811 Magazines sat down with Carlos Arras, New Mexico 811 board member to share his views on the roles and responsibilities of an 811 board member.
Carlos represents the electric stakeholder group in New Mexico and has served on the board for eight (8) years.
When asked to share his thoughts he said, “In the first place, I believe each board member has the responsibility to represent his or her respective stakeholder group at the board table. Each group has different concerns and issues in protecting their own underground utilities. Those members should feel free and be encouraged to contact their 811 representative for help and/or relief if possible. Secondly, the board, as a group, has the responsibility to provide a vision to the organization, perhaps set goals and expectations, then allow management to make it happen.”
He continued, “One thing that is clear to me is that damage prevention is a complex issue and it is obvious that stakeholder groups often struggle finding common ground. In a lot of ways, it is no different at the board level. All of us are industry experts…I mean we are experts in our individual fields, but we, for the most part, are not one call experts. So, for me, a board member must be willing to listen to our members to find out what changes need to be made. When we discuss that around the board table, often there are different ideas and opinions as the result of our backgrounds. In the boardroom, there may be a split vote, but in my opinion, when we walk out of the room, we are one in direction. Those of us who voted in the minority must support the majority.”
Carlos thought for a moment and then said, “Damage prevention is very important to all of us. Before we vote for a change, we must ask ourselves, ‘Is this good for damage prevention?’ ‘Does it promote public safety?’ and ‘How does it help our members?’ If we make a change, we need to make sure it does not set us back. We want to step forward.”
Carlos was asked to identify a change beneficial to NM811 membership during his tenure. He said, “Changes have certainly been all around us and not just with this organization. Every One Call system has issues. It seemed that in the past, the board looked for solutions almost exclusively within the state. I think when we began networking with other states to see how they resolved similar issues, the board found out there were options to improve our services to our membership and at a very cost-effective rate.”
He explained, “That’s how we built a relationship with Progressive Partnering (P2). Through that relationship, we joined a group of like-minded One Call professionals working to improve One Call processes that we could all benefit from and of course in New Mexico, that benefit and cost savings is passed on our New Mexico 811 members. Through Progressive Partnering we met Texas811, one of the founding members of P2, and worked out a reliable and affordable solution to unacceptable hold times, benefitting the callers across the state and that is good for damage prevention.”
We then asked Carlos, “From your perspective, what is the next big challenge for you and the New Mexico 811 board of directors?” He quickly said, “Getting everybody to understand the need to call 811 before they begin to dig. We need to teach them in grade school the importance of calling. They need to understand why. The rights-of-way are congested, and it is more critical than ever. And because of that congestion they need to know that even hand digging can be dangerous. Before that house blows up, before somebody dies; calling 811 needs to become a household concept. I must say that our NM811 Magazine has been a very helpful tool to improve our outreach to excavators. Our new executive director Domingo Sanchez’s experience and expertise has already benefited our organization in many ways. I am confident that he will lead us closer to where we need to be in the future.”
Carlos concluded, “I truly believe that when all stakeholders agree to work together for the common good of New Mexico, we will all agree that NM811 is the hub of damage prevention in New Mexico.”
Thank you, Carlos…well said!