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Midterm election: This race could affect how Arizona handles water shortage

The Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board of Directors establishes policy and sets taxes and rates for the 336-mile canal that delivers Colorado River water from Lake Havasu to Phoenix and Tucson.
Credit: Richard Lui/The Desert Sun
As Lake Mead has declined, a white "bathtub ring" has been left on the rocky banks by minerals and the receding water. This photo was taken in 2014.

PHOENIX — As you're filling out your ballot, you might notice a daunting list of 14 names under the race for the board of directors of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD)

If you're wondering what the board does, or who any of those candidates are, you're not alone.

The CAWCD operates the Central Arizona Project, the canal that delivers Colorado River water from Lake Havasu to Phoenix and Tucson.

The CAWCD Board of Directors is a 15-member board responsible for maintaining and operating the canal. Ten members are elected from Maricopa County, four from Pima and one from Pinal.

Board members set two property taxes for the three counties; that tax revenue goes toward financing the CAP system.

The board also sets wholesale water rates, which are rates that utilities pay for Colorado River water delivered through the CAP.

Board members will face multiple challenges in the coming years related to Arizona’s ongoing drought. Arizona's main water source, Lake Mead, has declined to below 40 percent of capacity, and an official shortage of Colorado River water could be declared as soon as 2020.

In Maricopa County, there are five seats up for election, with 14 candidates each running for a spot. The positions are non-paid and non-partisan. Each board position is a six-year-term, the same for U.S. Senators, so it’s important to do your research.

The incumbents are:

Lisa A. Atkins - She is the board's current president and has served on the board since she was appointed in 2003 to complete a term vacated by Bob Burns. She was elected to her first regular term in 2006.

Terry Goddard - He is a former Phoenix mayor and Arizona Attorney General who was elected to the CAWCD board in 2012. He also previously served as a member on the board from 2001 through 2002.

Heather A. Macre - She is an attorney at Aiken Schenk and was elected to the CAWCD board in 2012. She says she focuses on "integrity, transparency and sustainability."

Here is what we know about the other candidates. Neither Frank Lee Archer nor Ronald Sereny have campaign websites or have publicly shared their plans if elected to the board, so they were not included in the list:

Jim Ballinger - He was the director at the Phoenix Art Museum for 33 years. He said he has spent the past five years learning about Arizona water issues by being part of a major project relating to the history of Hoover Dam.

Alan Dulaney - He is a trained hydrogeologist and has been the water policy administrator for the City of Peoria since 2007.

Kerry Giangobbe - She is a healthcare worker in the West Valley who previously ran for city council in Litchfield Park. She said she is running to provide a conservative voice on the board for the sake of agricultural consumers.

Jim Iannuzo - He is an electrical engineer and chairman of the Maricopa County Libertarian Party. He says he hopes his background in science and politics will help improve water policy.

Jennifer Martin - She has a B.S. in biology from Northern Arizona University and spent years working in wildlife management for the state. She says she has spent the last several years working on water conservation, water quality monitoring, policy analysis and riparian restoration for the Sierra Club.

April M. Pinger - She lives in Gilbert and works as a research and development engineer in Tempe.

Daniel W. Schweiker - He is the co-founder of China Mist Tea and a former councilmember in Paradise Valley. He said he will look independently at long-term water issues and use his successful business background to help manage our water resources.

Rory Vanpoucke - He owns and operates Apache Sun Golf Club in Queen Creek and says he has been very active in water issues as a result of working in the golf industry.

Chris A. Will - She is a homeowner who has followed news about CAP since its planning phase.

Need more information on the midterm election happening Nov. 6? Check out the 12 News voter guide.