The Sun Voter Guide

South Valley water wars spill over into Kings Co. Supervisorial battle

The battle for the Kings County District 1 supervisorial seat is the site of a proxy battle for water control in the area. 

District 1 Supervisor Joe Neves nearly won reelection outright in the June primary, falling just over two points short of a majority vote. 

Instead Neves, who was first elected to the board in 1994, heads to the November election against farm manager Martin Chavez. 

The tension in the race centers on Chavez’s ties to controversial water giant John Vidovich. 

Chavez is a member of the Stratford Public Utilities District, which has been critical to a major battle between the Tulare Lake Canal Company and Vidovich-owned Sandridge Partners over construction of an expansive water pipeline. 

Sandridge Partners is attempting to construct a pipeline in Kings County to connect to a larger interconnected conveyance system. 

With lawsuits going both ways between Sandridge Partners and the Tulare Lake Canal Company, Chavez and the Stratford Public Utilities District finds itself in the middle of the fight. 

Sandridge Partners previously donated $20,000 to Chavez’s campaign earlier this year, prompting outgoing District 4 Supervisor Craig Pedersen to accuse Chavez of being a puppet for Vidovich.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at