PUD commissioner candidates sought

Before the Island County commissioners process the proposed public utility boundaries, People for Yes on Whidbey PUD, a group aiming for local control of power to displace Puget Sound Energy, is searching for energy leaders.

The group is holding an informational meeting at the Freeland Library Thursday, July 24, to discuss how people can apply to run as PUD commissioners and their possible duties.

Candidates must be registered voters and live within the boundaries of the district they want to lead.

“We’re hoping to find people who are civic-minded and have common sense. An electrical or engineering background would be helpful, but it’s not necessary,” Ed Jenkins, spokesperson for People for Yes on Whidbey PUD, said.

He added that no one from his group has interest in running as a commissioner.

“We never had plans to. I moved to Whidbey for retirement and I’m happy working on my house and garden,” Jenkins said.

In the early stages, elected commissioners will need to apply to the state for an electrical utility, make a budget proposal for a property tax, hire a small staff and negotiate with PSE. Most likely in a court setting, Jenkins said.

“A number of consulting firms will be brought on to advise them.”

There will be no filing fee to run because commissioners will not initially make a salary. They are paid only when the PUD genenrates an income, said David Metheny, campaign director for People for Yes on Whidbey PUD.

“It’s really a public service in the beginning,” he said.

This summer, the group is hosting three Power Up Democracy forums to approach business leaders about the benefits of local power, and will later offer three more for the public. In late August or early September, there will be a “Get to Know Your Candidates” forum.

The Island County Auditor’s Office has not yet set a date for candidate applications. Meanwhile, the county commissioners have to adopt boundaries for the proposed PUD area. The entire effort could end Nov. 4 if voters reject the PUD ballot measure.

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