This year's race for the Merced Irrigation District's fifth district is a rematch of the 2003 election. It pits longtime MID director Billy Pimentel against Livingston almond farmer Wil Hunter.
It has been an informal policy of the Merced Sun-Star not to endorse candidates who refuse to meet with the editorial board. Pimentel failed to respond to repeated attempts to set up a time to meet.
In 2003, this newspaper endorsed Hunter as a candidate who would bring a progressive voice to a tradition-bound organization. Four years later, our opinion remains the same.
Hunter is a visionary who likens the need for advanced and expanded water storage methods to John Kennedy's 1962 challenge to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He believes that, while the district may be efficiently accommodating water needs today, population and industrial growth will result in water shortages, some of which we are experiencing today.
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Hunter would seize water during the "wet times" -- which definitely are not now -- and ensure that the natural desert conditions of Merced County remain an oasis for economic prosperity year-round and for generations to come.
Hunter's candor and passion are as rare as a July gully-washer in the Central Valley; he is clearly the right man at the right time.
It takes more than 300,000 gallons of water to grow the food one person eats in a year -- enough to fill 7,500 bathtubs or 12 swimming pools. Merced County is at the crossroads of dramatic change and at the center of all prosperity is the management of our water resources. Keep that in mind when you vote Tuesday. The Sun-Star endorses Wil Hunter for a four-year term on the board of the Merced Irrigation District.