Two newcomers are vying with current San Miguel Community Services District Director Ashley Sangster for two open seats in the November election.
He was part of a board vote to raise the water rates by about 200 percent, a move that district General Manager Rob Roberson said was inevitable. But the candidates running against Sangster are both advocating for more affordable water rates.
Five years ago, the previous board voted against adopting a rate study that would have increased the water rates.
"Because the board chose not to increase the rates on the recommended study, we've been running in a deficit, and we're spending our reserves to stay solvent," Roberson said.
Roberson said the district has to raise the rates in order to generate revenue for it to continue to meet all of its state mandates for water quality and service.
Sangster was appointed to the district board at the beginning of the year after the position was left vacant by Larry Rueck, who moved out of San Miguel.
"I'd like to continue with our project to becoming financially responsible. We've identified ... ways to balance and manage the budget much more effectively than previous boards and CSD employees have," Sangster said.
Candidate Cesar Hernandez, a 20-year resident, is running on a platform of making water rates affordable, repairing infrastructure, making Wellsona Road safer, and revitalizing the downtown area.
Hernandez served in the Navy and rose to the rank of petty officer third class.
"I am running to bring solid leadership to the board that will listen to the community, and I am looking forward to bringing the skills I developed in the Navy to lead the CSD," he told New Times via email.
Candidate Hector Palafox has been a resident of the San Miguel community for 16 years. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Sonoma State University and said he could bring his education to the table to ensure that the district's finances are proper and transparent.
"My goal is to provide clean affordable water for the town, fiscal accountability, along with beautifying and revitalizing our community," Palafox said. Δ