The Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors deliberated extensively before choosing David Hunt to fill the vacancy created when former Director Geoffrey Caine resigned in January and, subsequently, died last month.

Four candidates — David Hunt, Les Gin, Sue Nash and Maygen Sandrini — submitted letters of interest to the board. Sandrini, an Idyllwild native and long-time resident, could not attend the meeting, but her letter of interest was read to the board.

The other three were at the meeting and each made a presentation on their own behalf before answering questions from the board.

Hunt (see accompanying interview) also is an Idyllwild native: “Hillbilly” was his characterization. Nash, a retired attorney, has lived here since 2002, and Gin, a retired banker from Phoenix and Tucson, moved here about a year ago.

Each candidate offered different attributes they believed would complement the board. Hunt, a former vocational teacher and business person, has a long history with Idyllwild. Besides growing up here, his family, parents and grandparents, have lived in town for decades and served on local agencies, including IWD. (His grandparents have since passed away.)

Gin has extensive involvement serving on local boards in Arizona besides his financial abilities.

Nash’s legal career with the San Bernardino County counsel involved work with environmental laws, and she has continued to pursue these issues since retiring.

After each spoke, Director Steve Kunkle questioned them about their views on consolidation, water-rate increases and future growth within the district.

Gin, the most recent resident, did not take a position on consolidation and wanted all the local districts to work together for the community.

Hunt wants to cooperate with the other two water districts — Fern Valley and Pine Cove. However, he noted the differences between the Fern Valley and Idyllwild legal structures would take time and effort to resolve, then said, “Personally, I would keep them as they are now and work together.”

Nash identified several issues she believes take precedence, such as establishing quarterly meetings with the other districts.

While Hunt was the most concerned that future growth might affect the availability of the district’s water supply, all agreed that limiting or controlling future development was largely a function of the county’s planning officials and Board of Supervisors.

After the three finished, Director Peter Szabadi nominated Gin and Kunkle seconded the motion. However, the vote was 2-1-1. Director Catherine Dearing opposed his appointment and President Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly effectively did also with an abstention. A majority of the full board, three votes, is needed for an appointment. Dearing’s initial motion for Hunt did not receive a second.

If the board did not select a new member, the choice would go to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, General Manager Jack Hoagland told the board. Schelly and Szabadi agreed that a decision was needed at this meeting.

“Certainly, I prefer to appoint one of these applicants; they are all so great,” Szabadi said.

After further discussion of the candidates’ attributes and background, Szabadi’s second motion in favor of Gin failed for lack of a second.

Dearing nominated Hunt again and Kunkle seconded this motion. The vote was 4-0 and he was sworn in as the new IWD board member.