Newcomer Rice, incumbents lead in Cambria services district race

ktanner@thetribunenews.comNovember 6, 2012 

Cambria voters may have opted for familiar faces in their next set of services district directors, having apparently selected two incumbents and a former chairwoman of the North Coast Advisory Council.

The winners will face issues that include the community’s decade-old search for additional water; the more than 660 properties on a wait list to build; and the need for residents who are already quite water thrifty to conserve even more.

In balloting for three seats, voters chose challenger Amanda Rice and incumbents Muril Clift and Gail Robinette.

Other candidates were: retired attorney Michael McLaughlin; editor/marketing consultant Tom Gray, the current NCAC chairman; and Kim McDaniel, who is retired.

There were write-in votes as well, most of which are expected to be for Steve Kniffen, chairman of the Parks Recreation and Open Space Commission, who registered as a write-in candidate. As of press time, the write in tally was not available.

If that candidate ranking holds through the final vote count, Rice — who owns a small business that provides technical, editing and other services to small firms — could be an agent for change.
She’d take the seat of Allan MacKinnon, currently serving as board president , who decided not to run again.

At the age of 42, Rice would become the youngest member of the board and the second woman among the five members.

Rice has taken strong environmental and fiscal-responsibility stances in the past, but she also has been outspoken about her hope that the district’s decade-old moratorium on new water connections could be ended, or at least softened a bit.

“Clearly, there are many in Cambria who support me and my thanks go out to all of you,” Rice wrote in an email sent shortly after the tally was posted on the county clerk’s website. “I am honored to have been chosen to be on the CCSD Board and look forward to serving this fantastic community.”

Robinette said that if she is elected, “I will be quite honored to serve the residents of this community for four years,” after having been appointed in December to fill out the term of Frank DeMicco, who resigned to take a job in New York.

Robinette said her priorities are getting as much input from constituents as possible, “having a viable water alternative, or at least a step-by-step plan,” making water conservation affordable for residents and solving infrastructure trouble spots to prevent serious problems in the future.

Clift — at the hospital bedside of his wife, Vicki, who is recovering from surgery — spoke of being honored to have served his first term and by the trend that made it seem Tuesday night as though he’d be re-elected.

“We’ll do our best,” he said.

Winning candidates take their seats in December. The current board has one more meeting set for Nov. 15.

A few votes — those vote-by-mail ballots turned in on election day and a few provisional ballots — remain to be counted and results are not yet official. The tally of vote-by-mail ballots submitted prior to election day and all three Cambria precincts that voted on election day is:

Rice, 1,406; Robinette, 1,383; Clift, 1,351; McLaughlin, 1,186; Gray, 950; McDaniel, 221; and write-in, 197.

Kathe Tanner is a staff writer for The Tribune and the weekly Cambrian. Reach her at 927-4140.

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