While the Fern Valley Water District Board of Directors held a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 28, to interview candidates for the vacant board position, the selection was deferred until the January meeting.

Individuals who applied for the vacancy and were interviewed were James Gates, Fred Hamblin and George Rowell.

At the board meeting the next day, Director Robert Krieger suggested to General Manager Victor Jimenez that since Rowell had taken a tour of the district’s facilities, the offer should be extended to the other two candidates. Directors Trischa Clark and Richard Schnetzer agreed.

They also felt that waiting until January would give an opportunity to President James Rees to be involved in the decision.

The vacancy occurred when Jim Wise declined the appointment to the seat following the Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ action in July. Following the nomination period in May, FVWD had three candidates for three seats; therefore, holding an election was not necessary. In the summer, the supervisors approved the appointment of the three nominees — directors and incumbents Krieger and Rees. Wise was the third and a new candidate, and appointed, too.

However, he formally declined the position in October. The board could not begin the recruitment and appointment process until the term officially began on Dec. 1.

At the Dec. 28 meeting, the board also reviewed correspondence from Danny McDonald, a customer and Fern Valley resident. McDonald wrote objecting to using an appointment to fill the vacancy. He argued that a special election must be held.

Jimenez assured the board that he had conferred with the district’s legal counsel and an appointment is the normal process to fill a vacancy until a regular election is scheduled. In this case, the appointee would serve until December 2019. The August 2019 election would include a vote to fill the final two years of the term.

Jimenez responded to several of McDonald’s letters. In a Dec. 20 response, he affirmed that FVWD is a state water district and not a community-service district, which McDonald had argued it was. Therefore, the Election Code applies to the filling of vacancies.

In that letter, Jimenez invited McDonald to apply for the seat.

In water business, at the Dec. 29 meeting, Jimenez reported that there had been a minimal decease in the level of the district’s wells. “The average decrease of the [11] wells was 1.02 [inches],” he reported.

November’s water production was 31 percent greater than a year ago. And wells were providing 42 percent of that production compared to 37 percent in 2016.