The Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant at SCV Water. photo courtesy SCV Water.

SCV Water board re-elects Bill Cooper as president

President Bill Cooper and Vice President Maria Gutzeit were re-elected Tuesday night, and joining them in the winner’s circle was director Gary Martin, elected the board’s second vice president.

The real change for the board happened when directors had to decide what to do with the seat vacated last week by long-standing local water board member Jacque McMillan.

McMillan’s announcement provided board members Tuesday an opportunity to act on a promise made to reduce the size of its board over time. On Tuesday, members voted to “resign” McMillan’s board position.

“The number of directors is now 13,” SCV Water Secretary April Jacobs announced to the board once the vote was taken.

When the SCV Water agency was created on Jan. 1, 2018, it saw the merging of two boards – one representing the now defunct Castaic Lake Water Agency and one representing the also defunct Newhall County Water District.

The emerging mega-board included 15 directors. It was reduced to 14  in April 2017, when director Bill Pecsi announced he would be moving away.

According to Senate Bill 634, which created the SCV Water Agency, the number of directors is to be reduced over time from 14 to nine. Eliminating a board seat through attrition has been a subject discussed among directors since SCV Water was created.

Once the board was officially reduced to 13 members, it was time for the election.

“The majority is now seven votes,” Jacobs informed the board.

When the votes were taken and the two people nominated for president, Cooper and Gutzeit, were counted, no one emerged with a majority of the board’s support. Cooper had six votes, Gutzeit had five. Two of the directors had abstained from voting.

A second vote was taken, after director Ed Colley nominated director for Gary Martin for president.

“I appreciate the nomination,” Martin said. “However, I respectfully will not accept the nomination.”

The result pitted Cooper against Gutzeit for the position of president a second time.

Cooper secured the majority of votes to win, garnering seven votes. Gutzeit received five votes with director Lynne Plambeck having abstained from voting.

Cooper is a long-time water professional, having worked for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for about 40 years.

During that time, he held various posts including the Water Treatment Section Manager overseeing the operations and maintenance of all five Metropolitan Water Treatment Plants that supply about one-half of all the water to 19 million people in Southern California.

Gutzeit has served on the NCWD board of directors since being first elected in 2003. She was elected in 2005 and 2009. She has served as board president in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012.

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