Clark Public Utilities commissioner: Barnes, Lyons

Top two choices for utility commissioner

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On July 13, Clark Public Utilities was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize electricity providers in the West (for the third straight year), and its score was highest among 121 national utilities in the study.

As president of the utility’s board of commissioners, Nancy Barnes takes pride in that honor. But it’s not her first achievement in 18 years on the board. She has acquired great expertise on a complex subject that leaves other people with glazed-over eyes. Barnes talks about megawatts and grids like a 6-year-old talks about Disneyland. She’s up for re-election on the Aug. 17 primary ballot, facing four challengers. Our take on this race: Barnes and Mike Lyons (former long-time Vancouver firefighter and current commissioner in Fire District No. 5) are the top two choices.

Barnes has bolstered her service as commissioner with a vast involvement in community activities. She pours countless hours into studying intricate topics, understands political issues tied to utilities and has a progressive outlook about conservation and conversion to renewable power sources.

Lyons is less enthusiastic about modernizing Clark Public Utilities but holds potential as watchdog of regulatory and expansion processes. He, too, knows well the utility business and would make a capable challenger to Barnes in the fall.