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Targeted over a rate hike, Yorba Linda water board incumbents likely to be recalled from office

 (Christina House / For The Times)
(Christina House / For The Times)

Water board members in an Orange County suburb who backed a water rate hike in the midst of intense drought appeared to be defeated in a recall election. 

With all precincts reporting, all three incumbents seeking to stay on the five-member Yorba Linda Water District board were losing. About 71% of voters voted to recall two board members, Gary Melton and Robert Kiley. 

And the board's president, Ric Collett, appeared to be losing his bid for reelection, coming in last place in a field of four candidates in which,only the top two finishers would secure a new term on the board. 

The Yorba Linda Water District's board attracted the ire of the Yorba Linda Taxpayers Assn. when the district unanimously raised bills by $25 a month. The battle has transformed the sleepy suburb into a cautionary case study for other California water suppliers coping with a decrease in water sales during drought.

A fourth incumbent board member, Michael Beverage, said he would not seek another term. The vacant seat is up for grabs between a candidate aligned with the incumbents and a challenger angry at the rate hike. 

The Yorba Linda Taxpayers Assn. backed a slate of four candidates: Al Nederhood and Brooke Jones to replace the board members targeted by the recall, and Benjamin Parker and John Miller for the open seats.

Nederhood and Jones led in their races to replace the incumbents, garnering 51% and 72% of the vote so far, respectively, against candidates allied with the incumbents.

For the two open seats, the leaders in that race were Miller, backed by the tax association, and Andy Hall, aligned with the board incumbents. If the results hold up, the outcome would give the tax association-backed candidates a 3-to-2 majority. 

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