With each taking 60 percent of the votes cast, the challengers to the Oakdale Irrigation District Board positions for Divisions 1 and 4 have defeated two longtime incumbents.
Linda Santos, 62, received 60 percent in Division 4 and Gail Altieri, 71, took 62 percent of the vote Division 1 over the current officeholders Al Bairos and Frank Clark, respectively. Bairos had served for nine years and Clark had served for 14 years on the board.
Both challengers mounted a vocal campaign against OID’s practices, opposing water sales, criticizing General Manager Steve Knell, and citing the need for transparency by the 105-year-old district.
“Needless to say, I’m delighted voters have been heard and wanted change,” Altieri said on Nov. 4, the day after the election. “Business as usual is not what they were liking.”
Altieri said she plans on listening to her constituents and bringing their concerns back to the meetings. Altieri was also complimentary to her opponent Clark who she’s known for many years.
“I want to let Frank Clark know I appreciate all the hard work he’s done for the district,” Altieri said. “I have no hard feelings and know he’s a revered member of the board.”
“The reality is we’re beyond all the political rhetoric now,” Clark said. “I wish her all the best.”
Santos said she was very pleased with the election results.
“The outcome of this election would only have been possible by the tremendous efforts of many people from large ranchers and farmers to the smaller landowners as well as all the people that live in town,” Santos said. “Oakdale is a very special community and I’m proud to be elected to the Oakdale Irrigation District Board.”
Santos said that keeping water rights intact would be her first objective followed by redistricting done in a fair manner protecting against “gerrymandering.”
She also thanked her opponent, Bairos, for his years of service to OID.
“He and his family have been a respected part of our community for generations and he will continue to be so,” Santos said “I refuse to let politics come between long standing friendships – that is not the Oakdale I know and am a part of.”
Both victors said they look forward to serving in their roles and would strive to make a positive impact.
A third incumbent, Gary Osmundson, appointed by the OID Board earlier this year to fill the vacancy created when Jack Alpers retired from the post, received 75 percent, easily winning re-election over challenger Daniel Medina