‘Anyone who has educated themselves on the current issues affecting MSWD can only draw the conclusion that something is wrong.’ — Amber Duff

DESERT HOT SPRINGS — Political newcomer Amber Duff, a payroll administrator and parent of a toddler, single-handedly stopped Nancy Wright from securing an eighth term on the Mission Springs Water District board of directors.

Duff and Wright were both vying to represent Division 1.

At the time of her defeat in the Nov. 8 election, Wright was serving as vice president of the MSWD Board of Directors.

Certified election results from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters show that Duff grabbed 1,060 votes for 53.05% while Wright netted 938 votes for 46.95% of the vote.

In District 5, Ted Mayrhofen came in first in a field of three candidates.

  • Ted Mayrhofen — 375 votes for 41.62%
  • Andrew V. Alder-Larue — 322 votes for 35.74%
  • Alan “Alfie” Pettit —204 votes for 22.64%

As you can see by the number of votes cast in each Division, the interest was in Division 1. Why? Likely because of the consistent and vitriolic controversies. Consider these for an appetizer: a reported violation of the California Water Code for pond construction. A board member who didn’t live in the district he represented, yet board members turned a blind eye. MSWD settled a lawsuit for overcharging customers. 

Those are the just the starters.

At the MSWD directors’ meeting while votes were still being counted, the writing was on the wall for Wright. She seemed to search for answers. She asked if the district received calls from residents upset about service. Watch and listen.

Amber Duff knocked on doors, talked to residents and listened with the goal of stemming the soap opera at MSWD. Uken Report (UR) asked a few questions.

UR: To what do you attribute your victory?

Amber Duff: The residents of Desert Hot Springs and its surrounding communities want change. They have made their voices heard; they want new leadership at MSWD. I believe this is a trend that will continue in the years to come, not only with MSWD, but with our local government as well.

UR: What are your goals?

Amber Duff: As I stated during my election, my goals are to make sure our water exceeds current state and federal standards and is prepared to meet future guidelines based on updated science. While also bringing fiscally responsible business practices to MSWD in order to provide ratepayers with the most efficient, affordable, and professional service possible.

UR: MSWD has been mired in controversy. Do you get that impression? Why?

Amber Duff: Anyone who has educated themselves on the current issues affecting MSWD can only draw the conclusion that something is wrong. There are many notable examples from class action lawsuits for made up water bills, illegal construction failure resulting in sewer spilling into our streets, to rate increases purportedly agreed to by the residents, with still no improvement to our water quality. Not to mention a lawsuit with a neighboring water agency who share some of the same customers as MSWD.

UR: What will you do to help alleviate it?

Amber Duff: My priority is to get MSWD’s spending under control, to divert as much money as is possible to cleaning our water, to provide for the much-needed maintenance and possible required upgrades to current infrastructure to further protect the safety and sustainability of our water. Having the “best tasting water” means nothing if you cannot drink it. Additionally, I want to get together with the new leadership at DWA to end the lawsuits. MSWD and DWA share the same ratepayers. We need to put egos aside and do what is truly best for the ratepayers.

UR: Anything you would like to add?

Amber Duff: My husband Michael Duff has been an attorney for over 18 years. He has practiced in the areas of criminal defense, civil law, and bankruptcy law. My husband was also the only licensed attorney in the country to hold a certification in erosion, sediment, and stormwater inspection (CESSWI) as well as being a California licensed qualified stormwater inspector
(QSP) ensuring clients were in compliance with the California General Construction Permit and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Currently, my husband works in pharmaceutical compliance specializing in alternative active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)

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