Two new candidates join race for Clark Public Utilities position

Four now vying to replace longtime commissioner Curtis

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

Updated: March 7, 2012, 5:28 PM

 
photoJim West
photoPhilip Parker

Two more north county residents have announced they will run for the District 1 position on the Clark Public Utilities Board of Commissioners, further crowding the field of candidates.

Jim West, a commercial real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial – Jenkins Bernhardt Associates, said in his announcement he would bring to the job a broad background in public and nonprofit leadership roles, and both business and consumer perspectives.

Philip Parker, a retired journeyman electrician, said in his news release that he wants to put his “knowledge of transportation infrastructure, education policy and workforce training to work” for the utility.

West and Parker join Jim Malinowski and Helen Nowlin in launching candidacies for the District 1 seat, which represents north Clark County on the utility’s three-member board.

Longtime incumbent Carol Curtis has said she won’t run for another six-year term.

The utility’s three elected 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 employees, including medical, dental and vision coverage.

West, a 33-year resident of the county who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Willamette University, said that maintaining affordable rates, encouraging sustainability and promoting job creation “are three areas where the policies of (the utility) have a vital impact.”

Parker, who serves as vice chairman of the Washington State Transportation Commission, has called the county home for 33 years, as well.

He said energy conservation and efficiency are the best policies and that he wants “to make our low-cost energy last as long as possible.”

“I know about working families, the energy industry, public policy and our community,” Parker said in his news release.

Clark Public Utilities — the second-largest public utility in Washington state — is a voter-owned utility, as opposed to an investor-owned, private utility such as Portland General Electric. It provides electricity to more than 183,000 residential and business customers in Clark County. The utility, governed by three elected commissioners, also has 29,000 residential water customers in the Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lake Shore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt areas.

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