Voters say yes to Measure F (June 7, 2017)

Final unofficial results: Measure F receives nearly 57% of vote

APPLE VALLEY — Voters have passed Measure F.

More than 5,940 voters said “yes” to the measure that authorizes the town to finance a potential purchase of the water system owned by Liberty Utilities.

Some 10,440 voters weighed in on the matter, according to the San Bernardino County Elections Office, which posted final unofficial results just before 11 p.m. Tuesday. Those votes in favor of Measure F accounted for nearly 57 percent of the vote, Elections Office data shows.

Just under 4,500 “no” votes were received, according to the unofficial results.

Mayor Scott Nassif told the Daily Press the Town Council is “confident the community has sent a message as to the direction we must head.”

“(The vote) has said more than just allowing us to finance (a purchase) should we be successful in acquiring the water system,” Nassif said. “It’s also telling the process and the courts that this is the direction (the voters) want to go. It’s a very strong message, considering the town could not actually advocate for the measure.”

Tuesday’s vote represents the latest hurdle cleared by the town in an acquisition effort that has remained ongoing since at least 2011. With Measure F’s passage, the town now has the ability to issue revenue-bond debt up to $150 million to bankroll a potential purchase of Liberty’s water system.

The next hurdle, however, is a civil trial wherein the town will attempt to prove municipal ownership of the water system is a more necessary use to the public compared to private ownership.

A trial-setting conference is scheduled for June 26, court documents show.

Liberty officials said they were disappointed in the outcome of the special election; however, they focused on the pending litigation in a statement released late Tuesday.

“The passage of Measure F means that the Town of Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuit will continue,” the statement read. “In this phase, the promises made by town officials will be considered by a court, and we believe, as was the case in Claremont, that the town … will not be granted a right to take the local water system.”

Company officials added that they look forward to “demonstrating that the public interest is best served with Liberty Utilities continuing to provide quality, reliable water service to Apple Valley customers.”

Liberty conducted aggressive campaigns both for Measure V last November and against Measure F in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election. In total, the company contributed more than $1 million to both campaigns, according to finance documents.

The fierce advertising helped garner a little more than 43 percent of the vote, according to the final unofficial results. By contrast, the Citizens for Water Freedom — the campaign committee in favor of Measure F — spent just under $18,000, as of May 20.

Nassif said he didn’t want “folks who voted ‘no’ to think their voices weren’t heard.”

“When you have a grassroots effort like we had, each of the Council members heard those concerns,” he said. “It’s important that we heard (those) concerns … It’s a testament to Apple Valley’s engagement. Our voters are engaged, and it’s encouraging for someone like myself, who can be voted in or out depending on what the voters want.”

As of Monday, Apple Valley boasted 36,596 registered voters, Elections Office data shows, so the 10,440 total ballots counted equaled a turnout of nearly 28.5 percent.

A “to be determined” amount of ballots still await counting, according to the Elections Office, which will next post results at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The results are scheduled to be certified July 5.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20170606/voters-say-yes-to-measure-f