DESERT HOT SPRINGS —In a pre-emptive move against possible litigation, the Mission Springs Water District recently voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance to move from at-large elections to five division elections beginning in Nov. 2020.

Adoption of the ordinance brings to a close a process that started more than a year ago.

Members of the board are President Nancy S. Wright, Division 1; Vice President Randy Duncan, Division 2; Russ Martin, Division 3; Ivan Swell, Division 4; and Steve Grasha, Division 5.

Duncan, Martin and Sewell will face re-election in November,

Wright and Grasha will be up for election in November 2022.

The adoption of the Ordinance was the final step in the transition to by-division elections as per the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) process. Both the MSWD Board of Directors and the County Registrar of Voters have approved the map.

Until now, MSWD has had an at-large system allowing customers to elect all five members of the Board of Directors. Elections by division — also referred to as districts — apportions the service area into five divisions with customers voting only for candidates from within their own division.

The Desert Water Agency board voted in July 2019 to move from at-large to elections by division, or district, beginning in November 2020. The decision came only after a Mailbu law firm asked the agency to switch in order to comply with the California Voting Rights Act.

The agency, which oversees groundwater management in Palm Springs and portions of Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs and unincorporated Riverside County, has used an at-large system in which residents could vote for any candidate within the agency’s boundaries.

MSWD wanted to avoid a similar request and potential cost.

Threat of litigation from the Malibu firm has caused Palm Springs, Indio and Cathedral City to move to district-based elections.

Today, MSWD includes parts of the Coachella Valley County Water District, the West Palm Springs Village and San Gorgonio Mutual Water Company systems. Today, it boasts more than 1.25 million feet of pipelines, 14 water wells and 24 reservoirs, serving an area of 135 square miles.


Image Sources

  • MSWD Board: YouTube