Easton candidates debate need for water system

The Fresno BeeOctober 30, 2013 

Differing views on the future of water in Easton is a key issue for candidates running for the Easton Community Service District's board of directors.

Over the years, proposals to install a water system have been fought by proponents of private wells in the unincorporated community, located about four miles south of Fresno.

Two incumbents are exploring the possibility of a water system. At least four other candidates oppose the idea.

The issue will likely be central on the minds of about 750 voters as they cast ballots to fill three of five seats on the district's board.

The district, formed in 1959, has an annual budget of $60,000 that it uses for street lights, storm drainage and operating a small fitness center, board president Sue Ruiz said.

  • Ruiz, 57, has served the district for 10 years. She works for nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia as a community development specialist and is a retired teacher.

    Ruiz said Easton's water has unsafe levels of contaminants and the water table has dropped about 50 feet over the past 50 years.

    "I'm not just against or for (a water system), I'm for the community developing a voice for Easton on what Easton wants."

  • Incumbent Michael Flores, 60, has served on the board for about two years. He's worked as a Fresno mechanic for the past 30 years.

    Flores said a water system would likely improve the community's water quality and quantity, but that "nothing is set yet."

    "We're in the beginning of getting grants proposed to start the information part of this, so the community can be better informed," he said.

  • Judy Freddi-Norwood, 51, has worked in ag crop insurance for 20 years as an underwriter analyst specialist in Fresno.

    "I'm running to try to keep the town preserved the way it has been -- keeping our own private wells and sewage," Freddi-Norwood said. "This is probably one of the last towns that's not set up like everyone else."

  • Oscar Kendrick, 75, worked for Fresno County for more than 30 years, retiring as fleet service supervisor of the heavy-duty construction equipment shop.

    Kendrick said he's running to make sure the water issue is placed on a ballot for residents to vote on.

    "They are talking about making us like Clovis and we don't want to be like Clovis," Kendrick said. "I moved here because I liked the small community."

  • Husband and wife Richard and Rose Koop, 80 and 78, said they are running to "keep our little town the way it is."

    Richard retired after 50 years as a construction worker, and rents properties in Easton. Rose worked as a commercial bank teller for about 30 years.

    Richard said they sat on the board in the past, and his father was one of the district's founders.

    "Most everybody that moved out here to Easton did so because life is simple here: costs are low, there's no chlorinated water, no meters, no city," he said.

  • Treva Wyatt, who the elections department lists as a housewife, declined to comment.

Vote Nov. 5

Some voters in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties have the opportunity to participate in off-year general elections. The highest-profile races are in Visalia, where City Council and school board seats are up for a vote, and in Merced, where voters are choosing a mayor and City Council members. It's also an election year for many special districts around the Valley -- but there are only a handful of contested races; most have uncontested candidates and, in some cases, no candidates. Madera and Mariposa counties don't have any general elections in this cycle.

Polls open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday

Election offices

  • Fresno County: 2221 Kern St., Fresno; details: fblinks.com/fcvote or (559) 600-VOTE (8683)
  • Tulare County: 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia; details: fblinks.com/tcvote or (559) 624-7300
  • Kings County: 1400 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford; details: fblinks.com/kcvote or (559) 582-3211, ext. 4401
  • Merced County: 2222 M St., Merced; details: fblinks.com/mervote or (209) 385-7434

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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