The Santa Clara Valley Water District has appointed John Varela to its South County seat. The former Morgan Hill mayor was sworn in Thursday.
Varela filled the District 1 spot left by Dennis Kennedy, who stepped down last month for health reasons. Seventy-seven-year-old Kennedy, also a former Morgan Hill mayor, began missing meetings in recent months after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The district’s Board of Directors unanimously approved Varela to carry out the remainder of his four-year term. The 38-year clean tech entrepreneur and Morgan Hill resident had served the city as mayor and councilman while volunteering for several community organizations.
Trustees interviewed five of 21 applicants who applied for the position. The other contenders were San Jose firefighter Richard Constantine, financial consultant Tom Cruz, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau President Erin Gil and Campbell Councilman Jeffrey Cristina.
District 1 covers South County from San Martin, north through San Jose’s Evergreen and Silver Creek neighborhoods and up to the hills east of Milpitas.
As the South Bay’s largest water provider, the district serves 1.9 million residents. It also manages 10 dams and reservoirs, three water treatment plants, a recycled water center, a laboratory, groundwater recharge ponds and 275 miles of streams.
The seven-member board oversees nearly 700 employees and a $478 million budget—one of the largest public agencies in the region.
As California heads into its fourth year of drought, trustees will have to address local conservation measures while weighing on statewide issues such as Gov. Jerry Brown’s contentious Delta tunnels plan.