The upcoming election to fill spots on Nevada Irrigation District’s board of directors is the most important election in the 32 years that I have been farming in Penn Valley.

On Nov. 6, we will have the opportunity to fundamentally change “business as usual.” The current board majority consists of a gathering of like-minded conservatives who need to be disbanded.

Chris Bierwagen has been hand-picked to replace staunch conservative John Drew for Division 2. Bierwagen has been Drew’s choice to fill his slot previously on the Farmer’s Market Board, the Farm Bureau, and now would like to put him in control of our county’s water supply. He is unqualified to take on daily operations for an organization delivering 287,000 acre feet of water to 25,000 customers, with a budget of $82.6 million annually. Even more critical will be the ability to provide vision for the challenges of the next 50 years.

Bruce Herring is a better choice for Division 2. Herring has served as a teacher, Dean of Academics, and director at Bitney Prep High School. He has also worked as the material and purchasing manager at a manufacturing firm, and co-owned and managed a small business. He is a progressive leader.

Will Morebeck is running for re-election to Division 4. Morebeck, as board president, has not consistently ensured transparency. Morebeck is in favor of building the Centennial Dam on the Bear River, as evidenced by his support of property acquisition. Will supports the ongoing use of terrestrial and aquatic herbicides on 350 miles of open ditches, when other options do exist. I spoke with Will about NID’s continued use of herbicides.

He said, “Mike, I agree with you, but I don’t want to rock the boat.”

Laura Peters is the better choice for NID director. Peters has served for 26 years as a civil engineer in the field of water resources in public and private sectors. As a scientist, she will objectively approach all options for maintaining a safe and economic water supply. She supports a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the Centennial Dam, and vows transparency moving forward.

The need for a dam must be carefully weighed. A rancher recently told me in the hardware store, “It’s like another bathtub to fill.”

I replied, “It will only fill two out of seven years, and cost a billion plus dollars.”

This dam will be paid for by ratepayers and taxpayers. That means you and I will be taking on that billion-dollar debt. California’s last big dam was the New Melones Dam 40 years ago. We are currently meeting our water needs and can continue to do so without a billion dollar dam.

Times have changed. The old guard has outlived its use. The good old way of doing business is history. Let’s get progressive and elect well-educated, well-qualified, experienced people committed to transparent communication. These people will be trusted with our water future.

Laura Peters and Bruce Herring will succeed at melding science with people’s water needs. Today’s NID representatives must be nimble and flexible to meet the needs of farmers, ranchers, and municipal customers. My family and I have been farming organically with NID water for 32 years. I know how fortunate we are to carry on with the infrastructure created by generations gone by. We must thoughtfully direct Nevada Irrigation District to prepare for future generations. Please vote and help elect Bruce Herring, Division two, and Laura Peters, Division 4.

Mike Pasner is a family farmer in Penn Valley.