Santa Clarita Valley residents have voted and Bill Cooper, Dirk Marks and Lynne Plambeck were leading the polls as of Tuesday night — with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted — to represent constituents on the SCV Water Agency’s board of directors, which serves as water resource management and promotes the sustainable stewardship of natural resources in the valley.
According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Cooper led the race for Division 1 with 66.13% (7,041) of votes and Marks led the race for Division 2 with 56.08% (6,939) of votes, based on early returns Tuesday evening.
The race to represent Division 3 between Plambeck and Maria Gutzeit was neck and neck as of Tuesday night with Plambeck holding 50.45% (5,729) of the votes and Gutzeit holding 49.55% (5,627) of the votes.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Cooper said in regards to the initial results of voting. “I’m way out ahead of my competition, but there’s a lot of more votes to come in. We’ll be staying up probably all night to look at those.”
There were three seats up for grabs — Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 — on the board of directors. Cooper, Melissa Cantu and Nicole Wilson aimed to represent Division 1 while Marks, Kathy Colley and Sage Rafferty sought out to represent Division 2, and lastly, Plambeck and Gutzeit raced to represent Division 3.
In the race for Division 1, following Cooper was Wilson, who had 19.25% (2,050) of the early votes, and Cantu, who had 14.61% (1,556) of the early votes.
In the race for Division 2, Marks was followed by Rafferty, who had 31.15% (3,855) of the votes, and Colley, who had 12.77% (1,580) of the votes in early returns.
Marks said in his race he was “very appreciative” of the early results and of voters who choose him to represent them on the board of directors.
The water agency went from having 15 members on its board of directors to its current 11, as part of a commitment to the public for a more efficient board when the agency was created several years ago as a merger of the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District. But the goal is to reach nine members, again for the same purpose.
This election will ensure the board has nine directly elected directors, too.
Previously the board either appointed a new director or decided to leave a seat open until the November election after Jerry Gladbach, who previously represented Division 2, died in July, former Director Dan Mortensen resigned after he was found guilty on a single charge of domestic violence, and longtime board member BJ Atkins moved out of his district.
The board approved the appointment of Gutzeit to fill Mortensen’s seat until voters could decide.
It’s also of note that this election was by-district rather than an at-large, and each candidate must live in one of the three electoral divisions to be elected by the people within that electoral division.
“I appreciate the support and the faith people put into the people that are on the water board,” Cooper said. “It’s such an important part of what goes on in our valley — to have reliable water.”
“It shows me that people like what we are doing. We’re looking to the future. We want to make sure everybody has water, and that it’s always there.”