By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
While the 135-candidate gubernatorial recall might draw more attention, Tuolumne County residents this Nov. 4 will elect three directors to the Tuolumne Utilities District board and two to the Groveland Community Services District board.
Retired farmers and Forest Service employees might not inspire the media blitz surrounding the recall, but these people could have more influence on the lives of Tuolumne County residents than any governor: TUD and GCSD boards control the water.
Wednesday was the last day of the extended period to file for the November election, and five candidates signed up for three TUD slots. Candidates for both boards must live in the districts they seek to represent.
The district's two incumbents Ralph Retherford of Sonora and Gary Walter of Tuolumne will compete against Barbara Balen of Sonora, a Forest Service resource manager, James Costello of Columbia, a businessman and farmer, and Jim Nuzum of Sonora, a retired Tuolumne County planning director, to keep their seats.
Director Glenn Carroll is stepping down from the board for personal reasons that would prevent him from finishing another term.
"I really regret leaving, because I think the board is beginning to work better together," Carroll said.
However, "I figured it would be right to back out now than bail out at the end," he said.
Carroll predicted water supply and wastewater treatment will be the big issues for the board next year.
In Groveland, board members Don Myers and Allie Henderson will vie against each other and Jerry Baker, a retired operations manager, for a two-year post. Incumbent Craig Maxwell will run against retired farmer Al Brizard and emergency medical technician Joseph Crivello for a four-year position.
All GCSD candidates are from Groveland.
Baker joked he was running for the board "because I didn't have the $3,500 to run for governor."
But he joined the other candidates in citing the district's floundering finances as his biggest concern.
The district just raised sewer rates and is looking at increasing water rates as well, and passed its first balanced budget in many years.
Brizard said he is running because and he wants to ensure the fluid necessary for human survival is managed as well as possible.
"You can't do without water and air," Brizard said. "You can do without most everything else."