The third time was a charm Monday for land-use/water-law attorney Greg Sanders, who was unanimously appointed — and enthusiastically welcomed back — to serve again on the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors.
Sanders previously served on the board from 2002 through 2010.
Sanders had filed his paperwork to run again in 2010. However, three months before the election, on the advice of his cardiologist, Sanders pulled out of the race after having heart surgery and stent placement to alleviate a 90 percent blockage in a major artery.
He told The Tribune that “I have a clean bill of health now.” He said he’s lost about 30 pounds, exercises regularly, has been traveling often (even overseas on a motorcycle) and has full clearance from his physicians to serve on the board.
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Sanders was sworn in immediately after the 4-0 vote Monday. He took the seat vacated Oct. 1 by retiring board member Muril Clift, who was among those who praised the attorney, declaring that Sanders was the best candidate among the five in the final pool of applicants.
About 20 people were in the audience, two of whom spoke, both endorsing Sanders to take Clift’s seat.
During public comment, Clift called Sanders “uniquely qualified” to fill the vacancy.
“Quite frankly, what he did in the early years was the groundwork” for the district’s emergency water supply project, which is also defined as the alternative water project (AWP), he said.
Sanders plans to use his significant experience to help the district along the complex path toward getting a full coastal development permit for the AWP, which reclaims brackish water, treats it and puts it back into the aquifer that provides much of Cambria’s potable water.
Working through complex issues with other government agencies on behalf of the district is familiar ground for Sanders, who was the CSD board’s president three times and vice president three times.
In that process, he dealt extensively with all the permitting agencies (including the California Coastal Commission), as well as with legislators, regulators and other officials that will have a hand in granting, endorsing or battling the plant’s permit to operate long term.
At the candidate sign-up deadline Oct. 15, there was a last-minute shuffle of applicants, with Sanders, Jeff Walters and Penny Maria Russell signing up in the final hours.
Previous applicant Jade Lehrmann Bodine was declared an ineligible candidate because the house in which she lives is on state property and technically is not within the district’s boundaries, even though the CSD provides its water and sewage treatment.
Applicants interviewed during the approximately 90-minute process included: Sanders, Russell, Walters, Jeff Hellman and Melvin Dorin, all of whom were praised and thanked by directors for their willingness to become involved and active during such high-intensity times for the district.
Sanders said later he plans to be at all the many upcoming special and regular board meetings, even though he and wife Teri left for Orange County almost immediately after he was appointed.
Their destination was the bedside of their daughter Sarah Ciscel, who was to have had a double radical mastectomy Tuesday as treatment and prophylactic protection against the breast cancer that runs in Sanders’ family.
Ciscel’s genetic testing showed that the 41-year-old had the marker for the disease, and the subsequently recommended MRI testing in lieu of mammograms showed “a very, very small tumor” that proved to be cancerous, her father said. “She’s a real trooper, very brave,” and she wants her experience to prompt others who may be at risk to take action sooner rather than later.