EVERETT — Three challengers are vying to complete the final two years of a six-year term on the Snohomish County Public Utility District board. The commissioner District 1 seat is now occupied by Sid Logan, of Arlington, who was appointed to the post in March 2017.
The commission appointed Logan — one of 25 candidates — to fill the vacancy after Commissioner Dave Aldrich resigned because of ill-health in January 2017. Aldrich, who died later that month, was two years into his third term.
Three nonpartisan commissioners oversee the Snohomish County PUD, the second largest publicly owned utility in the state. The commission sets utility rates, directs policy and hires a general manager.
The PUD serves more than 348,000 electric customers in Snohomish County and on Camano Island. It also provides water to more than 20,000 customers through supplies purchased from the city of Everett. Hydropower makes up about 87 percent of the county’s power supply, most of which comes from the Bonneville Power Administration.
District 1 covers the northern half of the county, including Everett, Marysville, Arlington, Granite Falls, Darrington as well as Camano Island in Island County. Logan’s appointment runs through the end of this year. The seat will be on the ballot again in 2020, resuming its regular, six-year election cycle.
Logan, a retired Arlington School District executive and former petroleum engineer, said he’s hit the ground running since his appointment. His top priority has been, and will continue to be, ensuring “that the PUD provides the most efficient use” of ratepayer dollars.
Logan pledges to work to maintain stable electric and water rates, and to support PUD programs that help consumers pay their utility bills, particularly low-income families and seniors. Logan also supports the introduction of PUD smartphone applications that would provide customers with a convenient way to monitor their power usage and costs, adjust services and pay their bills.
If elected, Mary Rollins, a social service provider and former business owner, said she would try to maximize the use of renewable resources, preserve the environment and advocate for needy customers. In her work for a local nonprofit, Rollins said she’s dismayed by the number of ratepayers forced to choose between putting food on the table, personal medical care or paying their PUD bill.
The PUD isn’t responding as it should to needy consumers with medical equipment requirements, she said. Rollins cited an example in which a ratepayer, whose power had been shut off, was forced to go to a neighbor’s home to plug in her CPAP machine, a medical device used to treat breathing disorders.
Sam Buchanan, a state social services training specialist with finance experience, said he would use his fiscal knowledge to ensure that “all PUD business is done through a lens of — ‘How is this going to affect consumers?’” He said he would “review all current PUD expenditures with an eye on reducing wasteful spending” and advocate for clean and renewable energy. Also a top priority would be ensuring the PUD does a better job of helping ratepayers on fixed incomes, Buchanan said.
Bruce King, an entrepreneur and former software engineer, said it’s time to increase the PUD’s transparency. “I don’t think this particular board is responsive to the community,” he said. An Arlington farmer, King has endured repeated power outages. The PUD needs to do a better job of providing rural residents with reliable service, and encourage internet providers to extend high-speed service to outlying areas, King said.
In addition, he advocates keeping the PUD’s spending local. “PUD customers will be best served if the PUD’s budget is spent locally, either in Snohomish County or Washington state.”
Janice Podsada: email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: @JanicePods.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District has two commissioner races on the primary ballot: District No. 1, a two-year position, and District No. 2, a regular six-year term. The Commissioner District 2 race is scheduled to be profiled in a story next week.