EL CENTRO — Juanita Salas was sworn in as the new Imperial Irrigation District board member for District 1 Tuesday, June 27 following her victory in the 2017 IID special election. The ceremony took place at the Condit Auditorium where Salas and her campaign team celebrated the occasion with supporters in attendance.
“We showed the establishment that money can’t buy voters,” Salas commented during her speech.
District 1 includes parts of El Centro, south and west of Brawley, Westmorland and the southwestern edge of the Salton Sea.
Approximately 18,000 voter guides were distributed to eligible voters within District 1, yet only 2,018 ballots were cast by the June 6 election day. 10,616 people were registered to vote. Salas received 920 votes, or roughly 46% of the votes cast.
“This is just the beginning,” said Salas’ campaign manager, prompting speculation that Salas might have plans bigger than the IID. Salas’ term as IID Director will only last for a year and a half before the seat will be up for grabs again after December of 2018. The special election was to fill the remainder of Matt Dessert’s term when he resigned his seat to work for Imperial County as the Air Quality Control officer. The full term will be on the ballot December 2018.
Salas, however, indicated that she would run for re-election after completing her first term.
“We have another election to prepare for, and that is in 2018,” she said.
Salas recognized various volunteers in her campaign team, noting that for several millennials interns who joined the effort, this campaign effort was their first.
“I know that there was a controversy about how young people got involved with my campaign,” said Salas, referring to an ongoing investigation by the Imperial Valley College, but Salas praised the commitment of such volunteers.
“Without many of you, we couldn’t have made over 10,000 phone calls,” said Salas. “That was a big feat.”
Salas also announced the launch of an independent website which would detail her efforts at the IID.
“This [website] is a place where I’ll be sharing important information about what is happening at the IID,” said Salas. “I want to encourage you, the public, to write to me and tell me what you’re thinking.”
Concerning policy, Salas said she would participate in upcoming discussions about treating the Salton Sea, as well as focusing on job creation and water rights.
“I am committed to continue this legacy this board has created,” she said.
Concluding her speech, Salas led her supporters in chanting “Si se puede!” and invited the attendees to a reception following.