Vacancies on the Idyllwild Water District board were filled Tuesday after Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington, frustrated by the current board’s inaction, used his authority to nominate Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly and Vic Sirkin to fill the two vacant seats.
At its Tuesday, Dec. 6 meeting, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved the selections.
Not all are pleased with the action. John Cook, the current acting board president, said, “I think there should have been an election to fill these seats.”
When asked if the issues he feels need public vetting were addressed during the August 2015 election, in which two incumbents — Warren Monroe and Dean Lattin — were defeated and the board president Jim Billman finished third, Cook replied, “No.”
Before Washington’s appointments, Cook was proposing an election in March or April, but that would have continued the board’s stalemate. Further, winners of that election would still have had to stand for re-election four months later during the regular election cycle in August 2017, when Cook’s seat also is up for election.
In his recommendation to his board colleagues, Washington explained why he was interceding in water district business.
“Pursuant to Government Code section 1780, the Idyllwild Water District had sixty (60) days to call a special election or appoint individuals to fill the vacancies created by the resignation of Mr. Billman and Mr. Freitas. … The Idyllwild Water District failed to call for a special election or fill the vacancies by appointment as allowed to do so under Government Code section 1780. As such, the opportunity to fill the vacancies by special election or appointment is now vested with the County’s Board of Supervisors,” he told his colleagues and then recommended Schelly and Sirkin for the vacancies.
“I’m honored,” Sirkin said.
“It’s a good group of people,” said Schelly. “Now is time to make progress for the district.”
Both Schelly and Sirkin feel that the board’s immediate priority should be to find an interim general manager. A special board meeting, in anticipation of the appointments, has already been scheduled to interview applicants on Friday, Dec. 9.
Washington selects new chief of staff
Verne Lauritzen, who served as chief of staff for two Riverside County supervisors — Jeff Stone and then, his replacement Chuck Washington — has retired.
His replacement is Jeff Comerchero, Temecula City Council member. Comerchero was first elected to the Temecula council in 1997 and has served as mayor four times.
Rejoining Washington’s staff is Brian Tisdale who had been on leave for several months. No other staff changes are expected.
Comerchero has been involved in several county regional transportation groups and is the former president and CEO of the Rancon Group, a development corporation in Temecula.
Both Washington and Stone were Temecula council members when they joined the county’s Board of Supervisors. Comerchero will retain his council seat. Lauritzen has been a member of the Jurupa Valley City Council since 2011.