Efforts to recall 2 elected water officials have failed

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Recall efforts to remove two Newhall County Water District board members from their posts, over allegations of backroom dealings on the proposed water merger, have failed.

Maria Gutzeit and Dan Mortensen, president and board director of the Newhall County Water District respectively, received notice in December of a recall effort to remove them from their posts, citing alleged backroom discussions with regards to the water district’s plan to merge with the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

Joan Dunn

On Wednesday, the deadline set by Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office for documents required to support the recall, came and went with no signatures having been received to support the recall.

Valerie Quinn, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, told The Signal Friday that the “drop dead July 5th deadline” has expired.

“We have not received any petition from the (recall) proponents,” Quinn said.

Gutzeit and Mortensen were each served in December with a Notice of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition – the first step in recalling locally elected officials under state law.

Joan Dunn, a former member of the NCWD board, served her notice of intent to begin a recall petition at the board’s meeting in December.

As a petitioner, Dunn needed 10 signatures to support her notice of intent.

Maria Gutzeit

She needed 5,713 signatures – representing 20 percent of registered voters – in order to see the recall through, according to Quinn.

Asked how many signatures were submitted by Dunn to support the recall effort, Quinn said: “We have not received any.”

In an email sent to The Signal Thursday, Gutzeit wrote: “Dan and I are thankful for the confidence that NCWD customers have in us and we are happy to be able to focus on SB634 – forming a new water district – and the cost savings and efficiency it promises to bring to the valley.”

Dunn ran unsuccessfully against long-standing CLWA board member R.J. Kelly in the November election for the agency’s Division 1 seat.

Dan Mortensen

She singled out Gutzeit and Mortensen, Dunn said in December, for having acted as lead negotiators in a process to allow dissolving and merging Newhall County Water District into Castaic Lake Water Agency.

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