Clark Public Utilities commissioner will not seek re-election

Curtis to step down after 30 years; Amboy resident announces interest

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

Updated: February 6, 2012, 5:27 PM

 
photoCarol Curtis has announced she will not seek re-election as Clark Public Utilities Commissioner.

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photoJim Malinowski

Clark Public Utilities Commissioner Carol Curtis said Monday she will not seek re-election after 30 years of helping oversee the utility’s power and water decisions.

Amboy resident Jim Malinowski, meanwhile, has announced he will run to succeed Curtis. Malinowski, a retired utility engineer, unsuccessfully challenged Curtis twice before, most recently in 2006, when he lost with 49.6 percent of the vote to Curtis’ 50.2 percent.

In a news release he issued Sunday, Malinowski said his 31-year career with Pacific Gas & Electric and his experience as a teacher give him “the background to understand the technical nature of (the utility’s) business and regulatory environment.”

Curtis said she plans to move from Salmon Creek to Vancouver, a decision that will take her out of District 1, where she’s represented north Clark County on the three-member Clark Public Utilities board since 1982. She said she personally told Malinowski she wouldn’t run again.

“It just seemed like a good time now,” she added of her decision to not run for re-election. “I think 30 years is probably long enough.”

She said she expects more people to make a run for the utility’s District 1 seat.

Malinowski frequently criticized utility moves made during Curtis’ tenure, including construction of the gas-fired River Road Generating Plant in the late 1990s.

In his news release, Malinowski said the utility faces a variety of technical challenges, including complex energy and natural gas markets, new federal electric reliability regulations and new renewable energy standards.

He said he’s regularly attended Clark Public Utilities board meetings since 1993.

“I would welcome the opportunity to work with the other commissioners and utility staff to continue the excellent service the (public utility district) provides,” he said.

For 31 years, Malinowski worked for Pacific Gas & Electric Company. His positions there included manager of transmission planning and manager of power control.

He’s now a power utilities technology instructor at Clark College. Malinowski has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington State University; a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University; and a master’s degree in business from Stanford University.

Clark Public Utilities is governed by an elected three-member board. Commissioners serve six-year terms in paid, part-time positions. They set utility policy, approve annual budgets, decide electric and water rates. and select the utility’s CEO.

Commissioners elected or re-elected after 2008 receive a salary of $1,800 per month. They also receive $104 a day while on utility business. The maximum amount of pay a commissioner may receive annually is $36,160.

Commissioners also receive the insurance benefits the utility provides its regular employees, including medical, dental and vision coverage.

News that the utility’s District 1 commissioner seat is up for grabs comes well before the official filing week for candidates to get on the 2012 ballot. Official filings begin May 14.

If three or more people file for the Clark Public Utilities District 1 position, they will face off in the Aug. 7 primary, said Tim Likness, supervisor of the Clark County elections department.

If two or fewer people file for the District 1 position, then the race would go directly to the Nov. 6 general election.

Curtis said Clark Public Utilities is a well-run agency that’s earned a reputation as one of the best utilities in the U.S. “It’s a great organization to be a part of, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com