The Cambrian

Most Cambria voters back districts’ tracks

North Coast voters appeared to offer their endorsement of the current track in two out of three local board elections, and gave mixed signals in a third.

While tallies are not yet final, voters appear to have elected new services-district candidates who have said they’re in favor of continuing to investigate desalination as a supplemental water source, and both incumbents for the school district board.

Cambria Community Healthcare District

The election message wasn’t as clear in the Cambria Community Healthcare District’s election.

According to nearly final counts posted early Wednesday, North Coast voters appear to have returned to office current trustees John Headding and Frank Fratto, but selected challenger Bob Putney, Cambria’s former fire chief, over the third incumbent on the ballot, Runo Lemming.

The incumbents are a majority of a board that pulled back from negotiations to share ambulance facilities and personnel with the Cambria Fire Department. Early Wednesday, Putney said, “The preliminary vote appears to support a review of cooperative options to enhance the Cambria Community Healthcare District’s operations and to secure a financially stable future.”

Putney endorses so-called “co-location” of fire and ambulance crews and equipment; Fratto does not. During the campaign, Headding didn’t offer a clear preference, but did state that the district should “routinely evaluate opportunities for improving operations and reducing costs through economies of scale.”

Cambria Community Services District

Incumbents Greg Sanders and Peter Chaldecott didn’t run again for seats on the Cambria Community Services District board.

Mike Thompson has a comfortable lead, but only 57 votes separate apparent winner Jim Bahringer from the next closest vote getter, Valerie Bentz. Harry Farmer came in fourth. Thompson and Bahringer said they want the district to continue pursuing desalination; Bentz and Farmer prefer other alternatives.

Wednesday morning, front-runner Thompson said, “I didn’t run on desal. I ran on my qualifications for the office and my community service. I think main-stream Cambria gave me the win. I was pleased with the response to the message I had, basically that we need to move forward in general and with the testing for desal to determine if it’s the proper way of going.”

This marks the fifth straight election cycle in which candidates friendly to desalination earned seats on the board, including a no-contest in 2006 when incumbents were reappointed when no other candidates filed. In 2000, two “go slow” on desalination candidates, Greg Fitzgerald and Ilan Funke-Bilu, won board seats.

Even counting those as anti-desalination, the tally since 2000 is 11 winning candidates in favor of pursuing desalination as the preferred supplemental water supply option to two opposed to such a course.

In this year’s election, Bentz, whose election standing has the strongest potential of changing, didn’t concede early Wednesday morning. In an e-mail, she said that on “whatever side of the oak panels I sit, I will continue to work with all Cambrians to see that our lovely ocean-and-forest home remains the beautiful haven it is ... I look forward to the day when we all feel good about the way our funds are spent, when (district) employees and rate payers feel their compensation is fair and equitable, when we all prepared together for fire and other emergencies, and we conserve our adequate water supply in a forward-looking, eco-friendly fashion.”

Coast Unified School District

The clearest result was for seats on the Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees, where incumbents Del Clegg and Dianne Brooke have commanding leads over Lee Chamberlain and Gretchen Ross.

Cayucos resident Ross’s candidacy appears to have produced one effect she was seeking: More interaction between the Coast and Cayucos Elementary school districts. In recent weeks, officials have been considering the possibility of reinstituting occasional shared meetings.

Wednesday morning, Ross said she would favor that. “I think the election underscores that Cayucos is not represented,” she said. “I feel it’s very important that Cayucos gets its voice heard within the Coast district.”

While Cayucos has its own board for grammar school, it’s in the Coast Unified district for high school grades.

Ballots requiring hand counting have yet to be tallied, and that may take a week or more. It appears the only possible difference could be in the CCSD contest.

Cambrian Editor Bert Etling contributed to this report.


Cambria Community Services District

2 seats, 100% of 3 precincts reporting

2,852 ballots, 67% of registered voters

Mike Thompson 1,380 28%

Jim Bahringer 1,274 26%

Valerie Bentz 1,217 24%

Harry Farmer 1,096 22%

Coast Unified School District

2 seats, 100% of 9 precincts reporting

4,471 ballots, 65% of registered voters

Dianne Brooke (I) 2,066 31%

Delbert Clegg Jr. (I) 1,954 29%

Lee Chamberlain 1,566 23%

Gretchen Ross 1,077 16%

Cambria Community Healthcare District

3 seats, 100% of 5 precincts reporting

3,121 ballots, 66% of registered voters

John Headding (I) 1,959 28%

Frank Fratto (I) 1,645 24%

Robert Putney 1,458 21%

Runo Lemming (I) 1,157 17%Jeffrey Miller 643 9%

(I) = Incumbent

All results as of 12:36 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3