Brendan Gibbons / Rivard Report
Two incumbents held on to their positions on the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s board of directors, according to preliminary county election results.
Environmental attorney Enrique Valdivia won a fourth term on the board of the authority that manages the Edwards Aquifer, the San Antonio region’s most important drinking water source.
Valdivia represents District 7, which includes San Antonio’s West and far West sides stretching from neighborhoods between downtown and Loop 410 out west to Loop 1604. Unofficial results show him far ahead of Gilbert Stanley-Medford, a retired banker.
In District 9, retired geologist and realtor Ron Walton earned a third term, beating former New Braunfels Utilities executive Roger Biggers. District 9 covers large swaths of southern Comal County and northern Guadalupe County.
The authority regulates groundwater pumping from the Edwards Aquifer and serves as a hub of scientific research into its properties and water quality, among other duties. Its jurisdiction includes all of Uvalde, Medina, and Bexar counties and parts of Atascosa, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Hays counties, roughly matching the aquifer’s boundaries.
Because of a lack of candidates, districts 7 and 9 were the only competitive races of the 10 seats open for reelection on the authority’s 17-member board.
In District 7, Valdivia captured 21,724 votes, or 69.1 percent, according to unofficial totals. Stanley-Medford got 9,696, or 30.9 percent.
On Wednesday, Valdivia told the Rivard Report the authority should continue developing the science to help policymakers gauge how best to protect water quality in the aquifer.
“I appreciate that my opponent was also concerned about water quality,” Valdivia said. “I think that says quite a bit about the consensus that’s out there. I see this as a mandate for protection of the aquifer into the future.”
Stanley-Medford said he wished Valdivia the best and that he ran because he wants the board to be more "more diligent in their oversight of what’s happening to the drainage area over the aquifer."
“I just feel that they’re not doing any outreach in any way," Stanley-Medford said. "Everybody I’ve talked to and [asked], 'When’s the last time you heard from someone with the [authority]?' they’d say, ‘We never have.’”
In District 9, unofficial results from Comal and Guadalupe counties show that Walton received 23,562 votes, or 63.7 percent, while Biggers received 13,415, or 36.3 percent.
In a phone interview, Walton said he wants the authority to help influence policy on growth outside city limits, where an influx of homes, businesses, roads, and building material sites is spreading out over land where runoff flows into the Edwards Aquifer.
“What we need is smart growth,” Walton said. “And I’m hoping that I can bring better management with smart growth philosophies and training.”
Also in a phone interview, Biggers thanked voters for their support and congratulated Walton on his win.
“It’s always tough running against an incumbent,” he said, adding that “whoever won, it was good for the [authority].”
The authority's public policy analyst Julia Carrillo said in an email the results won’t be official until confirmed by the authority’s board at a special meeting on Nov. 20. Authority staff expect to receive official election returns from all three counties before Nov. 19, she said.