A man is only as good as his word, and some South County farmers are putting Dennis Kennedy to the test. Last year the Santa Clara Valley Water District had to name a new board member after Don Gage was elected mayor of Gilroy. Filling his seat proved to be easier said than done, as the board deadlocked in more than a half-dozen votes at 3-3. The top-two candidates—Kennedy, a former engineer and mayor of Morgan Hill, and farmer Ralph Santos—had equal support until Kennedy announced that, if it made the choice easier, he’d agree to only serve out Gage’s term and would not seek re-election. Immediately after that statement, board chair Nai Hsueh changed her vote and Kennedy secured the seat. A little more than a year later, Kennedy changes his mind and ran for re-election. Kennedy says he powwowed with Hsueh and came away with the impression he’s not a flip-flopper. Hsueh, who spoke with Fly, says the main reason she changed her vote is she didn’t want to cede control of the decision to the county Board of Supervisors. “As a chair, I have that personal responsibility to make sure that this board makes a decision and is moving forward,” she says. Once Kennedy, who’s run for just about every elected seat up to state Assembly, broke bread with Hsueh, he decided to make a move to retain his seat. “I would not run if I didn’t think I had her support,” he says. But not everyone is on board. In the last few weeks, Kennedy has reached out to agro-agriculture honchos George Chiala, who has an eponymous farm; Mitch Mariani, who has an eponymous orchard; and he has plans to meet with Joe Aiello, a major player in the farm community. Kennedy admits most farmers consider him more of a city boy, but he’s committed to dealing with water issues as the drought ravages the state. “The more I get into the work that we’re doing I realize this is a good fit for me,” he says.