Maki, Alpine in Placer Water District 5 election nail biter

Wollan trails in three-candidate race for eastern Placer seat
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Media Life columnist
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AUBURN CA - Candidates Cheryl Maki and Joshua Alpine were leading late Tuesday in a close race for the District 5 seat on the Placer County Water Agency board.

Early returns showed Maki, a former Auburn mayor, and Alpine, a Colfax city councilman, leading but within two votes of each other.

Alpine had polled 5,250 in the eastern Placer County district – or 41.94 percent of the total 11,568 votes counted. Maki had garnered 5,248 – or 41.92 percent.

A third candidate – former Water Agency director Otis Wollan of Colfax – was trailing significantly, with 1,995 votes (15.94 percent).

Alpine said his early vote total was a big surprise and attributed it to the time he has spent and the people he has gotten to know as a Colfax City Council member over almost a decade.

“The simple things – hearing people,” Alpine said. “It says a lot.”

The district, which takes in Auburn, stretches to the Nevada border and includes Colfax, Foresthill and several small Sierra communities.

Auburn has been rolled into District 5 this year after redistricting based on census counts that reflect more growth in southern and western Placer County between 2000 and 2010.

Maki, an Auburn business owner, ran the strongest campaign in terms of dollars spent, while her opponents chose to take a lower-key approach. Overall, Maki raised $21,308 during the campaign while Alpine chose to not actively seek donations. He loaned himself $2,100 and received two contributions totaling $400.

Wollan, a director on the water board for 21 years, raised a total of $6,855. He said late Tuesday that early indications were that he was out of the running but he felt good about his campaign for helping to raise awareness about fire as well as water issues.

Wollan said that he was surprised with how Alpine’s non-traditional campaigning – with no signs or mailers – was able to poll significant votes. Alpine did have the endorsement of current water agency District 5 Director Ben Mavy, who is stepping down after one term. Mavy eked out a slim victory four years ago against Wollan.

“There’s some kind of network under the radar,” Wollan said. “Josh had no signs or mailers yet the results were there.”

Maki couldn’t be reached Tuesday for comment.

Both Wollan and Alpine praised their opponents.

“Cheryl and Otis are good people,” Alpine said. “It has been about just letting the process work itself out.”

Wollan said that the election was a “wholesome race.”

“Nobody went negative and all candidates were probably qualified to run,” he said. “The debates were good. It’s really ‘hat’s off.’”