Two residents with previous experience are eyeing a seat on Homer Electric Association’s Board of Directors in District 2 as ballots are set to be mailed to the cooperative’s members this spring.
Incumbent board member and Soldotna resident Ed Oberts, who has served three years on the board, will face Soldotna resident Dave Carey in the district that covers Soldotna, Sterling and portions of Kasilof.
Oberts is a 49-year-old realtor who grew up on his father’s Sterling homestead.
“I have enjoyed being on the board the last three years and I think I do a good job representing the members and want to continue,” he said.
Oberts said he was the best candidate because of his knowledge of the area and his values.
“I was born and raised here and I’ve wanted to be on the HEA board for a long time and I finally got elected,” he said. “I think I bring common sense and a conservative view point to the board that’s needed.”
If re-elected, Oberts said he wants “to continue to represent the member-owners to best of my ability.”
“To hopefully stay on the path that we are on to own and control our own generation,” he said.
Said Oberts: “I haven’t always won my votes, but I bring a very conservative viewpoint to the board and we’ve created some really good discussion and I think it has helped the members and HEA as an organization.”
Carey is a 59-year-old former school teacher and most recently served as Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor. He previously served on the HEA board from 1988 to 2008. He is now involved with the Christian prison ministry.
Carey said he would like to continue his former push for a unified transmission grid across the state as a way to lower costs to HEA members, especially in times of peak power usage.
“I want to run because I want to continue to move toward lowering the amounts, whether it is industry, the small businesses or the residential users,” he said. “The only realistic way … is that unified transmission actually could.”
Carey said he opposes an 8-percent increase in HEA rates that will show up on members’ June bills, just after board member elections. He said, “it smells.”
“That is interesting,” he said. “I can’t help but think after having been on the board for 21 years that there was some politics involved of, ‘When do we raise rates?’”
He said he would also like to see line extension rates decreased to what they were previously and HEA board members’ out-of-state trips curbed if not eliminated.
He said he also wants to maintain the co-op spirit.
“Which says we are not here to make money, we’re here to provide a service and we don’t take anyone off the grid because they are not cost effective,” he said.
Said Carey: “Assuming everything stays the same, next year there will be no one on the board who has more than five years experience. That is not healthy for any business to have all new (members). … I believe it is helpful for a board to have at least one person who has history, that knows the background.”
The deadline to file for a seat on the board was March 2. HEA directors are elected only by the members in their districts, respectively. The board consists of nine members who serve three-year terms.
Ballots will be mailed to HEA members on March 30. Members will also vote on a proposition to amend the cooperative’s by-laws to allow for electronic voting during elections. Currently, members can vote by mail ballot or in person at its annual meeting on May 3 at Homer High School.
Completed mail-in ballots must be received by May 2 in order to be valid.
Last year, Kelly Bookey was elected to a seat in District 1 over David Thomas, Dick Waisanen ran unopposed an won the open District 2 seat, and incumbent Mike Wiley trumped Malcolm Gaylord to keep his District 3 seat.