The field of seven candidates for a position on the Clark Public Utilities Board of Commissioners narrowed to two in Tuesday's primary election, with Jim Malinowski and Julia Anderson garnering the most votes.
Malinowski, a power utilities technology instructor at Clark College, captured nearly 30 percent of the vote and Anderson, The Columbian's former business editor, took more than 19 percent in the race for the District 1 spot. The district encompasses north Clark County.
They will square off in the Nov. 6 general election, when voters countywide will decide the new commissioner, who will join Nancy Barnes and Byron Hanke on the three-member utility board.
Commissioners' responsibilities include setting utility policy, deciding electric and water rates, and approving annual budgets.
In phone interviews Wednesday, both Malinowski and Anderson touted their professional backgrounds and discussed their plans for the general election.
Malinowski worked for Pacific Gas & Electric Company in California, serving in various roles including manager of transmission planning and manager of power control.
He said he expects the countywide general election will be more difficult than the district-only primary race. "My base is in north county," he said. "Julia has support from the downtown establishment."
But, he said, "I think my qualifications and record of commitment ought to balance that out." He plans to emphasize that he has the technical expertise that makes him the most qualified candidate.
Anderson is a freelance journalist whose work has included coverage of energy, conservation, personal finance and business issues. She serves on a regional advisory board for Umpqua Bank. She said the reason she's in the general election is that she has "a reputation in the community for hard-hitting problem solving."
"The general election is certainly a different ballgame," she said, "and I am
very aware that Jim, my opponent, is very well-known in north Clark County."
Anderson said she feels "very good" about the amount of support she received from primary voters in District 1.
Utility commissioners serve six-year terms in paid, part-time positions; they are compensated no more than $36,160 a year.
Clark Public Utilities provides electricity to more than 183,000 residential and business customers in Clark County. It purchases 57 percent of its power from the Bonneville Power Administration.
The utility also provides water service to about 30,000 houses and businesses in Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lake Shore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt.