A Day at the Races, Halftime Report, Part 2: Special Districts: Water, Sewage, Paper, and Semi-Home Rule


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The four week period during which candidates may file to run for those offices that weren’t raised or settled in June’s primary is halfway through.  It ends at 5:00 sharp on Friday, August 8, with offices for which an incumbent could have run but didn’t will reopen until Wednesday, August 13.

Part 1 of this story, published this morning, looked at the Mayoral and City Council races in the eight largest cities in OC (except that Garden Grove and Orange don’t seem to have their “current candidate” information online) and education-related board seats at the college, high school, and elementary levels.  Here and now, we’ll cover OC’s mysterious “Special Districts.” For lack of time, the other 26 City Council races — plus maybe Garden Grove and Orange if they get their act together — will have to await an as yet theoretical Part 3.

The material presented on School Boards and Special Districts is found on the OC Registrar of Voters “Candidate Filing Log” page.  Party affiliation of incumbents is found at the excellent (if not always entirely accurate) OC Political Elected Officers Database.  But others are found on the individual pages of OC’s 34 cities, and OJB does not want to check each of them quite so often!  So, if any of you would like to step up to be part of our crack reporting team, just post your comments to this or other “Day at the Races” stories and we’ll incorporate them.  If you want to make the elections in a certain city or two (or three, or 34) “your beat” — come on and claim it!

Because this takes for-freakin’-ever to write, we may not get to all of the City Council races anytime soon — although your helping out would make that quicker!  Today, we will finish the Special Districts and then update with the remaining City Council races when time permits.  Now it’s time to introduce some of our contestants.

Waterboys Dewane, Barbre, Ellis

Waterboys of various flavors. From left: Shawn Dewane of the OC Water District, being engaging at a soiree; Brett Barbre of the Municipal Water District, caught red-handed at the OC Registrar of Voters; and Waterboard Wannabe Dave Ellis, from the Black Lagoon.

Special Districts — Water Boards

Independent and Municipal

Special Districts do lots of things, especially in OC’s unincorporated areas, but the brunt of their activity involves water politics — dirty, dirty, water politics, with a lineage straight from John Huston in Chinatown.  So let’s go out of the order that the Registrar of Voters suggests and start with those fluid behemoths.  Among other things, they will play a major role in deciding the future of the Poseidon desalination plant — and they have been of course been well-stocked with lavishly rewarded supporters of the project.

The two big ones get their own categories on the ROV page.  The Orange County Water District is an “Independent Water Board” and the Municipal Water District is a “Municipal Water Board.”  (If you wonder whether they (and other boards) are largely redundant, in his last article printed in OJB, ported over from Surf City Voice, the late lamented puckish politico Gus Ayer, aka Mayor Quimby, argued that the MWD surely is.  Go, shoo — read, learn, and pay your respects to the Old Master.)  So let’s start with those two.  First, some maps!

OC Water District: Here’s the area served by the Orange County Water District, including its overlap with other smaller districts.

OCWD Service Map

But how can they be truly civilized if they don’t serve La Habra and Brea? (And, uh, some other places.)

And here’s the breakdown of their governing districts.  Note that Anaheim, Fullerton, and Santa Ana have their own appointed seats, currently held by Harry Sidhu, Jan Flory, and Vincent Sarmiento.

OCWD - Water District Seats by the Numbers

Yes, Division 3 is non-contiguous because of Fullerton’s separate appointive seat, and Division 2 is non-contiguous because mumble-mumble.

OCWD has three seats open, for Divisions 1, 5, and 7.

Division 1, composed of portions of Garden Grove, Stanton, and Westminster — this is a heavily gerrymandered board — is currently held by Katherine Barr, a Democrat who has been on the board for over 35 years and is now retiring.  So far, termed out Garden Grove Councilwoman Dina Nguyen is the only one running.  What does she think about Poseidon?  Don’t know, let’s ask her — well before the August 8 filing deadline!  Just in case, anyone else live around here?

Division 5, which covers parts of Irvine and Newport Beach, has been represented by Stephen Sheldon — last seen casting a safe “yes” vote in favor of transparency (meaning recording of meetings) given that it was going to fail with him or without him.  He’s a big supporter of Poseidon.  He’s being challenged by Leslie Daigle, who was knocked out of the 74th Assembly District primary by the combination of victor Allan Mansoor, challenger driven by anger towards her Robert Rush, and wealthy funder Charles Munger, who was testing the “destroying preferred OC Assembly candidate through obnoxious independent expenditures” tactic that he perfected this year with Anna Bryson in the 73rd.  Sheldon will be tough, but if Daigle has serious reservations about Poseidon she’d be a clear choice — and probably pick up lots of support from Democrats and Independents as well as Newport Beach Republicans.

Division 7 — which covers Costa Mesa and portions of Fountain Valley, Irvine, and Newport Beach (who drew these districts?!) is currently represented by one of our cover boys, Shawn Dewane, who is a huge supporter of Poseidon.  Neither he nor anyone else has as yet filed to run for this seat. Repeat: as of halftime in the filing period, no one has filed to run for this seat.

So, you see, there is news worth reading here today!

Municipal Water District of Orange County: Here’s a map of the service area for the MWDOC, which will also fill in the locations of many of the smaller water districts discussed herein:

MWDOC map

Those holes that aren’t Cleveland National Forest and such are the cities of Fullerton, Anaheim, and Santa Ana.

As you can see, if you can see, the MWDOC covers the entire county except for the cities of Anaheim, Fullerton, and Santa Ana (and the Cleveland National Forest and maybe other East OC hiking areas.  East OC is not my specialty.)  It has three seats up this year: Divisions 1, 2, and 5.

Division 1: This district in North OC (again, minus Fullerton)  is served by lobbyist and Poseidon peddler Brett Barbre, another of our cover boys, last seen on these pages trying to shoehorn Los Alamitos’s Troy Edgar into the County Clerk’s race against Hugh Nguyen.  (Speculation holds that this was related to his long bond with former County Clerk Tom Daly.)  He’s been on these pages before that, too, with many of those links lead back to FFFF diatribes, ones very much worth reading.  Barbre is also one of OC’s four appointees to the 37-member Metropolitan Water District, which serves 23 million residents in Southern California — JUST where one wants to put a lobbyist!  He is currently running unopposed.

Division 2: This district in Central OC (eastern Garden Grove, most of Orange, Villa Park, and north and unincorporated Tustin) is served by Larry Dick.  He’s also a member of the big MWD, and is on the Board of the OC Taxpayers Association, so draw your own conclusions.  He too is currently running unopposed.  My guess is that he favors Poseidon.

Division 5: This district in mid-coastal OC (Newport Beach and portions of Irvine, Lake Forest and Laguna Woods) has been served by Wayne Clark, who is departing from the Board.  Two Republicans are currently competing to replace him.  One is Jose Vergara of the tiny El Toro Water District; the other is … can it be? … yes it is! … Dave Ellis.  Dave Ellis, of the attempt to sell the OC Fairgrounds to a group of people including Dave Ellis.  Dave Ellis, whose photo has for some reason never before now, to my knowledge, been recolored bullfrog green.  Vergara’s main advantage here is that he is not Dave Ellis, but it would not be surprising if this district could cough up a real environmentalist to compete with these two gentlemen.  Plurality rules, after all!

California Water Districts

OC has four of these: the El Toro, Irvine Ranch, Moulton Niguel, and Santa Margarita Water Districts.  As you can see from the map, these cover most of the land in South OC that wasn’t incorporated before 1970.

El Toro WD is electing two at-large directors.  Neither of the incumbents, Democrat William Kahn and Republican Jerard Werner, has filed.  One non-incumbent, water consultant Fred Adjarian, has filed.

Irvine Ranch WD is electing three at-large directors.  Each of  the three incumbents, Democrat Steven LaMar and Republicans Peer Swan and Douglas Reinhart, is running, as is challenger John Jaeger.

Moulton Niguel WD elects by districts (called Divisions.)  Seats 2, 3, and 4 are up.  Incumbents Scott Colton and Donald Froelich on this uniformly Republican 7-member Board are currently unopposed in Seat 2 and 3.  In Seat 4, incumbent Laurence Lizotte is being challenged by both Cal Olson and Julie Dean Larsen.  I suspect that there might be a story here, and it doesn’t just involve spelling Scandinavian surnames.

Santa Margarita WD elects two at-large Directors.  Incumbents Saundra Frances Jacobs and Justin McCusker (an appointee) are the only two who have currently filed.

County Water Districts

Then we have six County water districts: the East Orange County, Mesa Consolidated, South Coast, Trabuco Canyon, and Yorba Linda Water Districts, and the Rossmoor/Los Alamitos Area Sewer District.

East OC WD elects three at-large directors.  Incumbents Richard Bell and appointee Sy Everett have filed; incumbent John Dulebohn has not.  Douglas Chapman is running as well.

Mesa Consolidated WD has two seats open this year.  In Division 4, incumbent James Atkinson is being challenged by Ron Amburgey.  Shawn Dewane currently represents Division 5, but neither he nor anyone else has as yet filed.

South Coast WD has two open seats.  Incumbent Bob Moore has filed; Richard Runge has not.  Two others have filed: Bill Green and Dennis Erdman.

Trabuco Canyon WD has three open seats — and incumbents Michael Safranski, Ed Mandich, and Glenn Acosta have all filed.  No one else has.

Yorba Linda WD has three open seats.  The incumbents, Gary Melton, Phil Hawkins, and Robert Kiley, are all running and are currently unchallenged.

In the Rossmoor/Los Alamitos Area Sewer District, incumbents Joel M Rattner and Linda Habermehl have both filed and are currently unchallenged.

Special Districts — Water-Related but Not Actual Water Boards

I’m just not going to explain these.  Run, don’t run — do what you want.

Irrigation District

Serrano Water District elects by Division, this year it’s seats 1 and 4.  In Seat 1, incumbent Richard Freschi is currently running unopposed.  In Seat 4, incumbent Frank Bryant is currently running unopposed.  Good luck irrigating Villa Park, guys!

Storm Water Protection District

Surfside Colony Storm Water Protection District is supposedly electing three trustees, according to the ROV.  But, nobody seems to be running.  I vaguely remember that this is being consolidated into Huntington Beach’s watery ways, but someone will be along to clarify any minute now.

Sanitary Districts

OC has three Sanitary Districts, not counting Rossmoor’s, which is apparently a Water District.  They are:

Costa Mesa Sanitary District: The incumbents, all of whom are running, are Bob Ooten, Mike Scheafer, and Arlene Schafer, who is an appointee.  They have one challengers, Bruce Peotter, last seen hereabouts trying to be appointed as County Clerk.

Midway City Sanitary District: The three incumbents are Margie L Rice, Frank Cobo, and Tyler Diep.  So far only Diep has filed to run.  No challengers have filed.

Sunset Beach Sanitary District: ALSO MISSING, just like Surfside!  We need to contact the authorities!  Sunset Beach was last seen in the vicinity of Huntington Beach.

Special Districts — Home Rule-ish

Orange County has six Community Services districts in unincorporated areas, which provide something like limited home rule.  One of them is deceptively labeled; let’s see if you can find it!

Capistrano Bay Community Services District, 3 Directors — ALSO MISSING!  WHATEVER IT IS, IT’S SPREADING!  Or maybe just no one is running yet?  If it exists, the incumbents up this year are supposed to be Kirk Bell, David Gutierrez, and Robert Bancroft.

Emerald Bay Service District, 3 Directors up — The incumbents are John A McDermott, Keri Ueberroth, and appointee Susan Thomas.  So far, only Ueberroth has filed; no challengers have done so.

Rossmoor Community Services District, 2 Directors up — Incumbent Bill Kahlert has filed; incumbent Alfred Coletta hasn’t.  Two challengers have filed: Rich Butterfield and Mark Nitikman.

Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Park District, 3 full-term seats and 1 short-term up:  The full-term incumbents are Ron Shepston, Thomas Smisek, and Gregory Bates, none of whom have filed.  No one appears to have filed for the short term seat.

Surfside Colony Community Services District, 4 Directors up: I’m no longer surprised not to find any candidates.

Three Arch Bay Community Services District, 2 Directors up: The incumbents are Rhoads Martin, who has filed, and appointee Tim Hamchuk, who has not.  No challengers yet.

Special Districts — Library

Finally, OC has two independent Library Districts, named after Buena Park and Placentia.  They control the weather and the stock market.

Buena Park Library District: Its incumbents are Mary Furhman and Al Salehi, the latter whom is another candidate (against Mimi Walters, as I recall) who went nowhere in June.  Both are running for reelection, being challenged by Art David Montez.

Placentia Library District: The two incumbents are Al Shkoler and Jo-Anne Martin, an appointee, both of whom are running and currently unchallenged.

STILL TO COME:  More City Council races.  Not today, though!


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney and General Counsel of CATER. His anti-corruption work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, leading them to work with the Democratic Party of Orange County Chair and other co-conspirators (who had long detested the internal oversight his presence provided) to remove him from the position of DPOC North Vice Chair of in violation of party rules and any semblance of due process. He also runs for office sometimes. Unless otherwise specifically stated, none of his writings prior to that lawless putsch ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Beautiful Bountiful Brea, but while he may brag about it he generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for candidates including Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and (except where noted) without compensation.