January is turning out to be a tough month for Chester Public Utility District board member retention.
Board president Tonu Plakk resigned Jan. 8 and now Dick Withrow, the second most senior director — experienced with water and sewer — submitted his resignation effective Jan. 18.
Where Plakk had served approximately five consecutive terms, Withrow said the year 2013 has him in the neighborhood of 16 – 17 years on the CPUD board of directors.
Withrow announced his decision to the Chester Progressive on Jan. 16.
He also said, like Plakk, that he was not going to be listing his reasons for resigning.
He did, however, mark his departure with a number of favorable comments about his volunteer service and hopes for the future of the district.
“In leaving the board I feel very good that there are people out there who want the job,” he said. “For years there was no interest in the district and now the community is active and wants to see some change — it’s time for change.
“I want to see the community step up and participate more as volunteers on our local boards. There are lots of young people who can step up and take a more progressive approach. As they do, it’s time for me to step down,” he said.
As to his personal hopes for the district Withrow said, “I want CPUD to be vibrant again — there are lots of capable people out there and it’s time to let them take the reins.”
Meeting absence clarified
The absence of both Plakk and Withrow at the Jan. 8 CPUD meeting generated a fair amount of public speculation.
That same speculation included a rumor that claimed the two board members were “seen in the community at 2 p.m. that same day and therefore had no excuse for not attending the 4 p.m. district meeting.”
When asked whether or not he and Plakk were back in Chester by 2 p.m. Jan. 8, Withrow said, “No.”
“The day of the meeting, Tonu and I were meeting with the Plumas County grand jury. We had both been subpoenaed and drove down to Quincy together.
“Tonu’s appointment with the grand jury was at 11:30 a.m. and mine wasn’t until 2:30 p.m. We didn’t arrive back in town until 5 p.m. It was already a long enough day,” Withrow added.
Full board up for election
Both Plakk and Withrow were in the middle of four-year terms set to expire December 2015. The remaining board members, Gregg Scott, Ben Thompson and John Knopp, are sitting in terms that expire December 2013.
The resignation of Withrow means that all five board member seats are up for grabs in the November 2013 election.
In the interim, the sitting members of the board will post a legal vacancy notice for the positions held by both Plakk and Withrow.
Once the mandated process has been completed, the remaining directors, who are sufficient in number to establish a quorum, may review letters of interest and appoint people to the vacancies.
The appointed person or people will not fill the vacated terms but rather the seats previously held by Plakk and Withrow.
Under California code, the people appointed to fill the vacancy serve only until the next special district election, which is this coming November.
Then they, along with the three remaining board members, will have to meet the requirement to file their intentions to seek a position on the board with the Plumas County clerk if they want to continue in their role.
Those people who meet the filing requirements will have their names placed on the November ballot.
Interested community members who either desire to serve or to challenge the sitting board also have the requirement to file their intentions.
The filing period for the elected position of CPUD director opens July 15 and closes Aug. 9.
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