Decision time is drawing near. Ballots for the general election are scheduled to be mailed Oct. 19, and election day is Nov. 6. So, as The Columbian’s Editorial Board kicks off its spate of recommendations, we begin by suggesting that voters support incumbent Jim Malinowski for Clark Public Utilities commissioner from District 1.
This is not an easy decision, as Malinowski faces a worthy challenger in Sherry Erickson. In fact, it is so difficult that the editorial board recommended all three candidates before the primary election narrowed the field to two. Malinowski and Erickson both are capable of helping to oversee what has been a well-run public utility.
As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion. As we offer recommendations for county officials, ballot measures and state representatives in the coming weeks, we trust that voters will study the issues and examine the candidates before making an informed decision.
Malinowski is seeking his second six-year term on the utility commission, and his credentials are impressive. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M, an MBA from Stanford University, worked as an electrical engineer for 31 years with Pacific Gas & Electric, and has taught Power Utilities Technology at Clark College.
Credentials do not always translate into effective leadership, but it is difficult to find fault with Clark Public Utilities. During an interview with the editorial board, even challenger Erickson said the utility is “currently an efficiently run business with outstanding customer service.” Clark Public Utilities has earned the highest J.D. Power rating for customer service each of the past 11 years, leading Malinowski to say, “Staff of this utility is genuinely committed to doing what’s best for the customers and local business community here in Clark County, and recognition like this from J.D. Power is just a reflection of that ongoing work.”
Despite those successes, the utility faces coming challenges in the energy market. Consumers increasingly are seeking energy from renewable sources; Clark Public Utilities has been at the forefront of that movement, and it is well-positioned to continue that transition.
Erickson, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Washington State, has a strong understanding of those challenges. She has worked as a project accountant for renowned ZGF Architects and currently is business manager for her family’s structural consulting firm, and she demonstrates a strong understanding of the utility’s financial duties. As The Columbian wrote editorially prior to the primary election: “For a political challenger to make a case for why voters should hire them, they must complete their homework; Erickson has done that.”
Newcomers also must make a case for why change is needed, and Erickson stresses the benefits of a fresh face on the board to lend stability through what she calls “an approaching retirement wave.”
Those are strong points, but they are not quite enough for us to recommend a change on the board. Malinowski has served the public well and has played an integral role in keeping reliable and affordable electricity flowing to customers throughout Clark County.
The Columbian recommends Jim Malinowski for Clark Public Utilities commissioner. But, in truth, voters cannot go wrong with either candidate.