There's a third local race Hesperians will vote on when they go to the polls this Tuesday, one just as critical, some say, as the much-publicized city council and school board races.


Hesperians will be choosing two people to represent the city's interests on the Mojave Water Agency's board of directors.


Hesperia contains two of the MWA's seven divisions, with Main Street forming a dividing line between the two areas. North of Main Street, residents live in Division 7, where they have a choice between incumbent Dick Fortyune and challenger Doug Shumway. South of Main Street, residents live in Division 3, where they have a choice between incumbent Richard Hall and challengers Brian Pierce and Nancy Siegrist.


Dick Fortyune


"I've been in two wars -- the Korean War and World War II," Division 7 MWA board member Fortyune said, "The most exciting thing I've ever done was to be elected."


On November 4, Fortyune is hoping voters give him that responsibility a third time.


"I'm employed by the public," he said. "I believe the people need a voice."


Although born in Ontario, he's lived in the High Desert for 40 years.


"I'm a farmer. Farmers are down to earth. We deal with water. I call it my farm of weeks, kids and alfalfa. Mostly weeds and kids."


Fortyune praises the MWA's commitment to not take out more water than is added to the supply each year, and he supports the MWA's Regional Recharge and Recovery Program, which would put non-native water into the local supply, where it would filter down into the aquifer and enter the drinking water supply.


"We take the water from the state water project, we inject it upstream and we get nature's filtration system" when the water percolates down through the earth. "If it's not pristine, clear water, we'll do it again. We guarantee it'll be good water, no guessing."


Fortyune said voters need to be wary of board members whose real constituency are businesses and local governments thirsty for water the desert's residents cannot afford to give them free access to.


"Water will run uphill to bad money," he said. "If there's nobody to protect the constituents and represent them, you end up with a place you wouldn't want to live. ... Most everybody on that board has been put there by special interests, except yours truly."


He includes his challenger, Shumway, on that list.


"He happens to be my friend. I like him, and he likes me, but he's a special interest guy."


Richard Hall


Fortyune says there's one other board member who represents ordinary citizens, his ally and Division 3 board member Hall, who works as a legal document preparer.


"It's critical to be able to help your constituents through a critical time," Hall said. "If we have a novice in there, he'll have to rely on the [MWA] staff. We are the ultimate decision makers."


He says the Regional Recharge and Recovery Program (referred to as the "r-cubed" program for short) is critical to the region's future, and it relies on the natural way of cleaning and recycling waste water.


"We've got good, potable water," he said. "And we can prove that."


As a board member, he's pushed for buying more water, expanding the MWA's conservation incentive program and the program encouraging the use of desert plants in landscaping.


Hall is suspicious of the motives of his rivals.


"I hope we get someone who wants to run, not just someone who wants a name and a political position," said Hall, a former Hesperia Recreation and Park District board member. "I don't give a hoot about the political position."


After two terms in office, he said he's got more he wants to accomplish.


"If I have nothing more to give, I'll come off" the board, Hall said. "But I have more to give. I can get us [water] allocations. ... The old adage is true: If it's not broken, don't fix it."


Brian Pierce


Hoping to unseat Hall is former Hesperia Chamber of Commerce board member Brian Pierce.


"Somebody needs to do something that's not a politician," he said. "I'm just a regular person, stepping up."


Pierce said the MWA needs to be much more aggressive about acquiring more water.


"If we don't get this water and there's a major drought, we'll be a ghost town," he said. "The prices are starting to raise and raise."


Like Hall, he supports the Regional Recharge and Recovery Program, and says it will produce "fine" water. But unlike Hall, Pierce said he'll be a more visible and available elected official.


"He doesn't go to things," he said. "This is our community. That's what I do."


Pierce said Hall's time has passed.


"Nobody substantial has run against him," Pierce said. If elected, he said he'll be more available than Hall. "You'll see my face [at community events]. I'll be there."


Doug Shumway


In Division 7, Shumway is attempting to win the seat held for two terms by Fortyune. He's a geologist, raised in Ontario and recently retired from Mitsubishi Cement after 23 years working for the company. He's perhaps best known as the chairman of the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce. (Divisions 3 and 7 extend beyond the borders of Hesperia.)


"If elected, I would be the only technical person on the board," he said. "I have a geology background. I have an environmental background. That makes me the best candidate, I think. I like Dick Fortyune, he's a nice guy, but I think it's my turn."


Shumway's goals are increased conservation and holding water rates down. He would like to see the MWA continue to seek out more sources of water for Victor Valley residents.


The Mojave River Basin "is being depleted," he said. "We need to continue to bring down water down the California Aqueduct. Northern California has lots of water. We have very little water. It's not a supply problem, it's a transportation problem."


But conservation is key.


"Seventy percent of our water use up here is used for landscaping," he said. "You just can't have a huge lawn up here any more."


He'd like to see builders offer the choice of less water-intensive landscaping choices.


"One of the answers here is controlled growth. You can't have no growth," Shumway said. "The whole High Desert is basically tied to construction. It'd be really traumatic to say 'no growth.' ... But we need to be water-conscious."


Nancy Siegrist


And finally, cosmetologist Siegrist is theoretically a candidate in Division 3. She does not have a statement outlining her positions on the ballot for voters to read, and despite weeks of attempts to reach her and messages left for her, neither the Daily Press nor the Hesperia Star have been able to reach her for comment.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.