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Zone 7 board candidates can file running papers starting this week

Four seats up for election during June primary

Candidates hoping to win one of four seats on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors up for election this June can begin filing nomination papers this Tuesday.

Zone 7, the key local water wholesaler and flood protection agency, is overseen by a seven-member board who serve four-year terms elected by voters in Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore and unincorporated Tri-Valley.

The four positions being contested in the June 5 statewide primary election are currently held by board president John Greci, vice president Jim McGrail and directors Sarah Palmer and Bill Stevens -- who combined have 60 years of experience on the board.

The Weekly has asked all four incumbents whether they plan to seek re-election; only Stevens responded, saying he would be entering the race. Retired Zone 7 principal engineer Dennis Gambs has also announced his intent to challenge for a board seat in the election.

Candidates have until March 9 to submit papers to join the race, unless an incumbent chooses not to run -- in which case the filing period for non-incumbents will be extended to March 14.

Based in Livermore, Zone 7 is the wholesale water retailer for the city of Pleasanton, the city of Livermore, Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) and Cal Water's Livermore division. DSRSD provides water service to the Dougherty Valley, but San Ramon residents cannot vote in the Zone 7 election as it is an Alameda County agency.

The decisions Zone 7's board makes affects all of these cities' water costs and their access to state water. Zone 7 water prices are the leading factor for the rates local water service providers charge residential and commercial customers in their jurisdiction.

The agency is also tasked with regional flood control, and the board is in charge of making sure Zone 7 is adequately prepared for floods in the Livermore and Amador valleys.

In addition to regular decisions on water prices, construction projects and administrative oversight, the next year will be a particularly important time for the Zone 7 board -- a new general manager is expected to come on board in the spring to succeed Jill Duerig, who is retiring after 11 years at the helm.

Zone 7's seven board members serve four-year terms that are staggered so four directors are elected in June of one even-numbered year and three directors in the next even-numbered year.

The position is non-partisan and at-large, meaning directors represent all customers within the Zone 7 boundaries as opposed to representing just a specific geographic area within.

Of the four incumbents up for re-election, Greci has served the longest at 24 years. He is a Livermore resident and retired Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employee.

Stevens, who confirmed he will run for re-election, has served on the board since 1998. He lives in Livermore and works as a geotechnical and civil engineer.

Palmer, a Livermore resident who was first elected in 2006, holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and teaches Advanced Placement environmental science through the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Programs (ROP).

McGrail is the newest of the incumbents, about to wrap up his first term. A former employee of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office, McGrail now operates a private legal practice and is a vineyard owner in his hometown of Livermore.

The only challenger to announce his intent join the race thus far, Gambs worked as an engineer with Zone 7 for 34 years until retiring in 2015. He too is a Livermore resident.

To run for Zone 7 board, a candidate must be an adult who is registered to vote and resides within the Zone 7 boundaries.

Although there is no filing fee, candidates who want to have a statement of qualifications printed on the ballot will be charged the actual costs associated with printing, translating and typesetting the statements.

Election officials estimate a candidate statement will cost $3,839, payable to Zone 7 at the time of filing, according to Zone 7. If the actual cost differs from the estimate, candidates will either be billed or receive a reimbursement.

Nomination papers must be picked up from and submitted to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office in Oakland. For more information, visit www.acvote.org.

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