Politics & Government

Caruthers official asks voters not to mark his name in Nov.

Dwight Miller's name will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, but he's telling Caruthers residents: Don't vote for me.

Miller, who had declared his candidacy for the Caruthers Community Services District board, later learned his job as superintendent of Caruthers Unified School District creates a possible conflict of interest.

The conflict could arise from overlapping issues and projects that the services district and school district have authority over, the services district's legal counsel determined.

So in early September, Miller asked to have his name taken off the ballot, but it was too late.

The deadline to have a candidate's name removed -- 88 days before the election -- had passed and ballots had been ordered, said Victor Salazar, Fresno County clerk.

Miller said he will send out mailers to Caruthers voters telling them not to vote for him and indicating his support for candidates Sumer Conger and Adan De La Rosa Jr.

Miller said he had decided to run for the services district board because the board needs new members.

"They're pretty complacent about using their office to improve the quality of life in the community," he said.

"They perceive their role to be only water and sewer, and I want them to think bigger."

Caruthers, an unincorporated town of about 2,100 residents, is about 17 miles south of Fresno. The town does not have a city council.

As in other unincorporated communities, the services district serves as a quasi-city council.

The district's primary function is to oversee the town's sewer and water systems and streetlights and seek federal and state grants for projects, said district manager David McIntyre. The district has an annual budget of about $1 million, he said.

Board members meet once a month and receive no compensation, he said.

A few people in the community asked whether Miller, if he was elected, would have a conflict of interest, prompting the legal opinion, McIntyre said.

Elections for the Caruthers services board often go uncontested or do not have any candidates, Miller and McIntyre said. Both have heard from townspeople that Nov. 6 will mark the first contested election for the services board in decades.

"We usually have to hunt around for board members," McIntyre said.

Three seats on the Caruthers services board will be filled Nov. 6. Other candidates are appointed incumbents Jerry Willis, Loaland Brittsan and Rick Helm.