The balance of power on the Cambria services district board could be up for grabs following the resignation of Director Mike Thompson, who’s moving to Texas after nearly seven years on the board.
Thompson has often voted with the board majority of Jim Bahringer and Vice President Greg Sanders on water issues, specifically the Sustainable Water Facility (SWF).
Harry Farmer, the newest director, has most often been on the other side of those issues, while board President Amanda Rice has acted as a swing vote, supporting the SWF despite some concerns but also voting with Farmer at times — most recently in opposition to the district’s purchase of the old library building for its new offices. (That purchase was approved 3-2 last month.)
The board will consider how to replace Thompson at its next meeting, Thursday, Aug. 24. It will be Thompson’s last meeting as a board member, but he said he will recuse himself on that issue, leaving the four other directors to decide.
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Thompson’s resignation will be the second mid-term departure in three years; Muril Clift resigned his seat in 2015 and was replaced when Sanders was appointed on a 4-0 vote of the remaining board members. Sanders subsequently won election to the board in 2016.
The board can fill the vacancy by appointing a new member to fill out the balance of Thompson’s term or calling a special election within 60 days of the vacancy. The election would be held on the next available election date. If the board does not appoint a new member or call for an election within the 60-day period, the county Board of Supervisors may fill the vacancy.
“Whether we choose one of those methods or create a new process is something to be worked out at the public meeting,” Rice wrote in an email.
Thompson said one option for the board would be to appoint an interim member who would agree not to seek election when the seat is up for grabs in 2018. Thompson won re-election to the seat in 2014 along with Jim Bahringer, with both of them having run on a pro-SWF platform.
When I think of Mike Thompson, ‘true gentleman’ comes to mind.
Greg Sanders, CCSD board vice president
“I think the people really supported (the SWF), because the 2014 election was basically a referendum on that,” Thompson said. “Bahringer and I won by a 60-40 vote, which is a landslide in any election.”
Thompson pointed to the $13.2 million water plant as the signature achievement of his tenure on the board.
“Getting that completed and now available, I think, is the thing I’m most proud of,” he said. “I know it’s a fight others folks are going to have to take on, so I’m looking forward to riding off into the sunset.”
Thompson, 74, has been a Cambria resident for 15 years. Before moving to the Central Coast, he served with the Naval Security Group during the Vietnam War, then subsequently worked in Los Angeles for mayors Tom Bradley and Richard Riordan as director of criminal justice.
He and his wife, Sally, who died at age 64 in 2014, owned A Matter of Taste on Burton Drive for 10 years. In addition to his tenure as a Cambria Community Services District director, he’s also served on the Chamber of Commerce board as business representative on the North Coast Advisory Council and as the CCSD’s liaison to groups such as the Cambria FireSafe Focus Group.
Thompson said he’s had his house up for sale for a little more than a year, and it just closed escrow last week. He’ll be renting it until the end of the month, at which point he’ll be moving to Georgetown, Texas, about 30 miles north of Austin.
He’s moving there to be close to his daughter, who lives in nearby Cedar Park, and a woman he met a couple of years ago with whom he’ll be sharing a residence.
He served with grace and remained dedicated to this town through a lof of publicly and personally difficult times.
Amanda Rice, CCSD board president
“I’ve just gone back and forth” while his Cambria home was up for sale, Thompson said. “I met this person on a trip back to visit my daughter. In fact, I met her when I sat next to her on the plane. Her husband had passed four months earlier, so we had quite a bit to talk about.”
Thompson, who also has children in Florida, Oregon and Simi Valley, says he plans to visit Cambria in the future.
“I’ve got many friends here who I’ll miss,” he said. “I’m in good health and I can still play golf well,” he said, adding that he and his friend in Texas are “looking forward to traveling, playing golf and turning the page, if you will, and enjoying the rest of our lives.”
Thompson also has served as an officer with American Legion Post 432, where he is currently second vice commander.
Sanders, who serves alongside him as first vice commander, noted Thompson’s “many hours of selfless community services,” particularly with the Legion, and said he will “definitely be missed.”
“When I think of Mike Thompson, ‘true gentleman’ comes to mind,” Sanders wrote in response to an email from The Cambrian. “The second thing that comes to mind is his quiet demeanor. When Mike speaks, he has something important to say. His style is devoid of histrionics and drama. He sees an issue, gets to the point and articulates his position. The third thing that comes to mind is his fortitude. In the face of a lot of unwarranted criticism, Mike persevered with the Emergency Water Supply Facility (now the SWF). He did so with integrity.”
Rice said Thompson has “brought a politically savvy understanding of our district’s strengths and challenges” to his role as director.
“He served with grace and remained dedicated to this town through a lot of publicly and personally difficult times,” she said.
The board will discuss the vacancy created by Thompson’s resignation at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St. It’s the second item under regular business on the agenda.
Cambrian reporter Kathe Tanner provided background information for this article.
CCSD board meeting
Cambria Community Services District directors will discuss the vacancy created by Michael Thompson’s resignation at their monthly board meeting set for 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.