The Dublin San Ramon Services District switched to new by-division elections this year, but two of the three Board of Directors seats will be on the ballot uncontested while the third saw no candidates come forward during the filing period this summer.
The change to DSRSD's election system from at-large to area-based came last year after a petition citing the California Voting Rights Act prompted the transition. Now residents will only vote for the lone board seat representing their designated residential district, instead of electing from a pool of at-large candidates.
Residents will also only be able to elect one candidate every four years, instead of multiple candidates every two years like with at-large voting. There are now five designated divisions across the DSRSD service area, with three divisions up for election this fall.
DSRSD spokeswoman Lea Blevins told the Weekly that the board seat for Division 5 in eastern Dublin had no candidates file for the ballot, so it will be filled later by appointment by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Division 1 in the eastern Dougherty Valley and Division 3 on the western side of the district are on this year's ballot, though neither candidate has any opponents -- incumbent Director Rich Halket for Division 3 and newcomer Marisol Rubio in Division 1.
"The by-division elections are a new process this year for DSRSD, and we are currently waiting to hear back from the county for more details on when and how the Board of Supervisors will fill the vacancy," Blevins said.
DSRSD newcomer Rubio -- who ran for State Senate in March but missed the runoff -- said she's campaigning for the Division 1 seat, "Because I deeply care about our conserving our natural resources and understand the climate crisis we face," and "to put my science background to work for the benefit of the people of Dublin and Dougherty Valley in San Ramon."
With a bachelor's degree in molecular and cell biology from UC Berkeley, Rubio said, "Now more than ever, we need creative scientific, cost-efficient solutions to meet our increasingly complex water demand."
"Since 2008, we have a 20% reduction in water through the Delta and over the next 10 years we anticipate having droughts similar to those in 2014 and 2015 once every 10 years," Rubio said, adding that she would also use her training in DSRSD's Citizen Water Academy to work to "ensure that future generations have access to adequate supply and clean water."
Without any contenders on the horizon, Rubio is essentially an early victor in the election and able to think about her pending responsibilities as a district supervisor. Her priorities include providing "clean, affordable water through an advanced, multi-barrier purification system" and building a "fiscally strong budget plan equipped to meet and maintain our growing water demand and infrastructure, while keeping our water rates steady."
Rubio plans to achieve the latter "by conducting regular studies for each enterprise fund to assess and predict our legal parameters, revenue requirements, cost of services, revise our master plan as needed, and ensure that our unrestricted revenue remains solvent."
Additionally, Rubio wants to implement a "sound water management plan that provides local solutions with greater local oversight, optimizes our resources, and lowers our environmental impact by continuing to explore options, such as potable reuse, that will expand our local recycling program."
Rubio added she also wants to prioritize, "Ongoing research to reduce PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) beyond our current capacity in our treated water from Zone 7 groundwater wells, especially as our dependence continues to increase with more expected dry years."
Four-term incumbent Halket called it "unfortunate that we will not have a contested election in any of the three areas up for election this cycle," but said he continues to be "very interested in diversifying our water supply" during his next term, this time as the Division 3 representative instead of at-large.
"Currently DSRSD receives all of its water from Zone 7, and Zone 7 is 80-85% reliant on imported water from the state water project. This single point of failure concerns me," Halket said.
Halket said he supports "pursuing several projects at least until one or two rise to the top," including potable reuse, regional desalination and importing water from sources besides the State Water Project.
"To be clear these new sources would augment the current situation not replace it," he added.
Increasing wildfire threats and PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs are also "concerning" to Halket, who said the district is "prioritizing a revamp of its emergency response plans to address these issues.
"We are also investing in new equipment to better manage our water and wastewater systems in the event of long term power interruptions," Halket said.
A certified public accountant, Halket was first elected to the DSRSD board in 2004, and every four years after since then. Earlier this year he was appointed as liaison to committees for Tri-Valley Water, Zone 7 Water Agency and the cities of Dublin and Pleasanton.
Halket works for a solar energy systems manufacturer as a finance and human resources executive, and previously worked in public accounting, as well as spent a decade each in the enterprise software industry and hydrogeology consulting. He has a bachelor's degree in geology from Stanford University and a master's degree in hydrogeology from Washington State University.
Neither candidate had an active campaign website to date.