The residents of Pine and Strawberry officially have a new water board, whether the newly elected board members are ready or not.
The Gila County Board of Supervisors officially recognized the special election results of the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) at its meeting on May 27.
Seven of the eight candidates on the slate will now sit as board members. That includes Larry Bagshaw, Russell Brock, Richard James, Trent McNeeley, Paul Randall, Don Smith and Tom Weeks, even if many are new and feel unsure about the procedures to get started.
A few of the new PSWID board members attended the supervisors’ meeting. James stood to thank the board and receive direction on where to go next.
“What needs to happen so that the candidates are officially put into position?” said James.
Manager Don McDaniel explained that as soon as the new board members signed the paperwork, they were board members and could start tending to business. McDaniel then offered to have the county send Judge Dorothy Little to preside over a swearing in ceremony if the PSWID board requested her.
Supervisor Tommie Martin said that was not required.
“Just to be real plain, we have just handed the board back to these folks,” she said. “We’re happy to have Judge Little come up there, but it is plumb legal to have staff swear you in — basically as of now, tag, you are it.”
James admitted he and other board members were still working on an understanding of the complicated open meeting laws.
“We are trying to follow it as closely as possible,” he said. “There’s a lot of gray areas ...”
“Welcome to the club,” quipped Supervisor Michael Pastor.
Gila County Elections Department Director Eric Mariscal said the 45 percent turn out on a special election pleased him.
“Usually only 30 to 33 percent of voters vote in these types of elections,” he told the board.