Cambria CSD board president withdraws from race

The announcement by incumbent Greg Sanders that he has withdrawn from the contest for his seat on the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors is not expected to have any immediate effect on the district’s direction toward building a desalination plant as a supplemental water supply.

The five-member board has consistently voted unanimously in favor of conducting testing needed to determine whether wells under a beach would be able to draw enough seawater to supply a desalination plant.

Two directors’ terms are up this year.

Sanders, the board president, had filed to run for re-election, but he withdrew from the race last Thursday and notified his fellow directors by e-mail Friday.

Sanders said he made his decision after consulting with his cardiologist. In 2008, doctors inserted a stent in a major artery of his heart, which had been 90 percent blocked, he said.

“Fortunately, I am now in very good health,” Sanders said. “The one and only problem with my heart has been repaired. My cardiologist wants me to keep it that way. ... When I told him I had filed for re-election, he nearly strangled me. He reminded me that he had leaned heavily on me to resign ... after the stent procedure. I ignored his advice then. I cannot now.”

Sanders said he’ll remain on the board until his term ends in December.

“What I’m going to miss most is Greg’s institutional knowledge, especially related to desal,” board Vice President Muril Clift said. “He has been so immensely involved with it, and he has the relationships with the Army Corps of Engineers. He also has the land-use knowledge.”

Sanders saw combat in the Vietnam War as an Army first lieutenant. Now an attorney, Sanders is a partner with Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, where he specializes in land-use entitlement and environmental and real estate transaction law, according to the firm’s website.

The other incumbent, Peter Chaldecott, announced early this year he would not be running again. He has served on the board since 1993, winning re-election in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

The board voted in 2001 to declare a water emergency and stop issuing new water connections, beginning what amounted to a building moratorium in the seaside town of about 6,500 residents. In 2004, the board officially selected desalination over building dams or pipelines as the preferred option for gaining additional water. Other elements of the district’s adopted water master plan include conservation and the use of recycled water.

A full environmental impact report on alternative sites for the plant and other water supply alternatives would need to be prepared before the district could give final authorization for plant construction.

With Sanders’ withdrawal, four candidates remain in the race: businessman and college professor Jim Bahringer, university professor and author Valerie Bentz, gardener and astrologer Harry Farmer and Cambria business owner Mike Thompson. The filing deadline for the race is 5 p.m. Wednesday.