Incumbent Imperial Irrigation District Director Norma Sierra Galindo held a 225-vote lead over challenger Carlos Zaragoza in the Division 5 runoff race that came down to a fight over water rights, pitting IID versus a segment of the farming community.

Sierra Galindo’s lead comes as of the 10 p.m. count, in which only 28 of 41 precincts were reporting. In addition to the remaining precincts, there are likely thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to be tallied, according to Imperial County election officials.

Sierra Galindo had 1,401 votes, or 54.34 percent of the votes tallied, while Zaragoza had 1,177 votes, or 45.66 percent.

Sierra Galindo nor Zaragoza could be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Sierra Galindo, 67, ran with a “focus on insuring that the IID remains the fiduciary of the water rights in order to distribute water to all water users, be they municipalities, industry or ag.” She added she is concerned over the threat the Abatti lawsuit poses to the water users of Imperial County, and “I want to we defend these [water] rights.”

Meanwhile, Zaragoza, 69, ran on a focus of “protecting agri-businesses present perfected rights, lowering power rates … cleaning up inflows to the Salton Sea, [prioritizing] Salton Sea cleanup” and eliminating nepotism at the district.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro Brown can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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