A new report from the Visalia-based Community Water Center indicates that nearly 500 local water board seats have gone uncontested in recent elections. In the southern San Joaquin Valley, the report finds that 87 percent of seats on public water boards went uncontested. When only one candidate is seeking a seat, the election for that seat is not held. The report looked at local public water boards that serve residential and industrial customers as well as irrigation districts that serve farmers. The report calls for a move to recruit and train possible candidates for these offices and better public understanding of the role these districts play in California’s water system. To learn more about the issue we spoke with the report's author Charlotte Weiner who explains in many cases it's hard to recruit people for these important - but unpaid - positions.
Note: an earlier version of this post included an incorrect reference to water agencies. The report in question only investigates seats on local public water boards, not water agencies. It also referred to elections being canceled when a seat lacks more than one candidate. In reality the elections are not canceled, they simply are never held.