Las Virgenes Municipal Water District leaders traded insults and accusations Wednesday as they reacted to the disqualification of half the candidates in an upcoming water board election.
Los Angeles County officials on Tuesday ordered an incumbent board member and two challengers removed from the Nov. 4 ballot after discovering election filing irregularities.
The action shut out voting for the two water district seats representing Calabasas and Agoura Hills, and set the stage for the county Board of Supervisors to fill those four-year posts by appointment. The district provides water and sewer service for a 120-square-mile area between Woodland Hills and Thousand Oaks.
Las Virgenes directors met in a special session Wednesday morning to consider their options--which they agreed are limited to suggesting nominees to the supervisors and trying to sort out what went wrong with their election.
Several board members blamed colleague Tad Mattock, who represents the Calabasas area, for causing the dispute, unprecedented in the 28-year history of the district. They said Mattock engineered the candidacies of disqualified challengers Gordon Miner and Kurt Moore.
Mattock, however, put the blame on Harold Helsley, the disqualified incumbent candidate. He said Helsley attracted attention to errors in his own candidate filing papers by complaining to the county about paper work filed by Miner and Moore.
Helsley closely questioned Mattock about his role as "agent" for Moore and for Miner, who had been Helsley's opponent. Miner and Moore were disqualified by county officials because Mattock collected nominating petition signatures for them, although he does not live in their election divisions.
"Why not call me 'campaign manager?' " Mattock shot back before declining to answer more of Helsley's questions.
From the audience, Miner admitted that he and Mattock "goofed" with the signatures. But he also objected to Helsley's questioning.
"This interrogation is wrong. I don't feel another water board member should question us," Miner said.
Moore was not at the meeting. But he dispatched a letter to the board that complained of the "very tasteless display of political maneuvering" by Helsley and Ann Dorgelo, an incumbent who was to have been Moore's election foe.
Dorgelo, who emerged otherwise untouched by the dispute, was quietly recommended by the water board to be the Board of Supervisors' Division 5 appointee.
The board delayed making a recommendation for Helsley's Division 3 position after Helsley said he plans to appeal his disqualification to the county.
He said he hopes to be the water board's nominee. Mattock, however, said he plans to ask supervisors to appoint Miner.
Also unresolved Wednesday was Mattock's fate. He is seeking reelection in Division 2 and is being challenged by candidate Glen Peterson.