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News / Business / Clark County Business

Barnes leads Steinke in Clark Public Utilities race

Incumbent takes 66.09% of vote in initial returns

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 8, 2022, 10:19pm

Nancy Barnes was leading Don Steinke in the race to represent Clark Public Utilities’ second commissioner district Tuesday night. Barnes, the incumbent, has been on the commission since 1992.

Barnes had 66.09 percent of the vote in the first set of election returns Tuesday night. Steinke was trailing at 33.91 percent.

Barnes, who spent Election Day taking down campaign signs, said she was feeling good about the initial returns.

“I really do attribute the numbers to what a great utility we have,” said Barnes. The utility, she added, has done the right things at the right times. “I believe our customers recognize that.”

Barnes said she only takes a little bit of credit for the utility’s success.

“We’re going to keep a great thing going,” she said.

The election brought into question the role of a commissioner at Clark Public Utilities. Steinke, a longtime environmental advocate, argued that the utility should educate the public on climate change and lowering carbon emissions. Barnes, meanwhile, maintained advocacy was not the role of utility; providing reliable electricity and clean water at-cost was the job, she previously maintained.

Steinke criticized the utility Tuesday night for not having plans to close its natural gas power plant before state law requires it. The state law, Steinke mentioned, is one that he helped get passed. Barnes, he said, is taking credit for the utility obeying the law.

He maintains that the utility is not investing enough in solar power.

Steinke looked positively at the support his campaign had received and the votes he’d garnered so far on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of people in Clark County who want change at Clark Public Utilities,” he concluded.

The utility is in the midst of undergoing tremendous change in order to meet upcoming mandates set forth by the Legislature. It must be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030 and must be running entirely on clean energy by 2045.