The Coast News Group

Vista woman to chair panel

REGION — Vista Irrigation District board member Jo MacKenzie will chair board meetings of San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission during 2018 and Olivenhain Municipal Water District director Ed Sprague will be the commission’s vice-chair.

A pair of 8-0 votes Dec. 4 selected the board officers.

“I look forward to 2018,” MacKenzie said. “It’s going to be a busy year.”

“I’m honored and privileged to have the opportunity to serve,” Sprague said.

LAFCO handles jurisdictional boundary changes including city incorporations, annexations, consolidations and detachments. San Diego County’s LAFCO board consists of eight members:  two county supervisors, one San Diego City Council member, two city council members from the county’s other 17 incorporated cities, two special district board members and one public member. 

Sprague and MacKenzie are the two special district members who are selected from the county’s independent special districts (which have voter-elected directors as opposed to dependent special districts whose members are on the Board of Supervisors or a city council). Special districts include fire protection, water and sewer service, hospital and cemetery districts but not school districts.

MacKenzie and Sprague both joined the LAFCO board in 2015 after neither of the special district representatives in 2014 ran for re-election. MacKenzie was first elected to the Vista Irrigation District board in 1992 and Sprague has been an Olivenhain board member since being appointed to fill a vacancy in January 2008.

MacKenzie, whose father was in the Air Force, grew up in Albuquerque and moved from Albuquerque to San Marcos (some of which is in the Vista Irrigation District) in 1975. Her three children are all San Marcos High School graduates.

The Vista Irrigation District board position is a part-time job, and MacKenzie has worked full-time as a planner since 1987. She is a principal in the MacKenzie Group. “I thought it was important to have someone on the commission who had a background in planning,” she said of seeking the LAFCO board position three years ago.

In addition to having chaired the Vista Irrigation District board over her 25 years of service, MacKenzie has also chaired the California Special Districts Association and currently chairs its finance corporation.

Sprague, who lives in Carlsbad, is a lifelong North County resident who was born at Tri-City Hospital and attended San Dieguito High School. He also attended San Diego State University and received both a Bachelor’s of Arts degree and a Master’s of Arts degree in public administration. Sprague initially joined the fire service with the Carlsbad Fire Department and spent 26 years there before becoming the North County Fire Protection District deputy fire chief in May 2012. He retired from his fire chief position in 2015 and then became an assistant professor in the Fire Technology department at Palomar College. Although LAFCO’s purview does not include school districts, Sprague’s position at the community college district complements his experience with fire districts and his water district.