Of the 14,091 votes that could have been cast to elect two new members to Holley-Navarre Water System’s board of directors, only 70 people actually cast a ballot. That is a less than 1 percent voter turnout.
Incumbent Brian Kelly and newly appointed Rick DeSantis will serve a four year term on the board of directors. Kelly netted 436 votes, and DeSantis netted 374.
The next closest candidate, George “Geo” Mayer, received 87 votes, and Shane Kahl received 13 votes.
Newly reappointed board president Bien May said the low turnout is typical.
“We always encourage and invite people to come out and participate,” he said. “It is very well advertised, but most water systems and utilities have very low turnouts. Historically through all of our elections this has been how it is.”
Though only 70 people cast ballots, there were significantly more ballots actually counted, 463 to be exact, but 401 of those votes were held by eight people through the proxy voting system. That’s 87 percent of the vote in the hands of eight people.
HNWS’s proxy voting system allows utility members to sign a form allowing another member to vote on their behalf. The form listed currently sitting members of the board as options for their proxy with a section to fill in information for any other water system member they would like to take their vote. May said the proxy system is part of the water system’s bylaws from when it was first founded.
Only sitting board members and candidates for the board actually received proxy endorsements.
One member of the board of directors, Gaius Bruce, cast 97 proxies in addition to his own vote, meaning he had 21 percent of the say in the result.
To be clear, the selected proxy is allowed to vote for the candidate they chose according to HNWS’s website. In other words, those 401 votes were entirely decided by the proxies that voted them.
This was the first HNWS election in which voters could take advantage of absentee ballots. There were 17 votes cast by this method. May said it was good to give voters the added option.
“We offer more ways to vote. I do anticipate that as the members become accustom to it that it will ramp up,” he said. “We are the only water system that I know of that offers an absentee ballot.”
The board’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the HNWS board room at 8574 Turkey Bluff Road. The public is encouraged to attend all regular board meetings.
Read the full article in the Jan. 26 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.