An incumbent and a newcomer will joust for a seat on Homer Electric Association’s Board of Directors in District 3 as ballots are set to be mailed to the cooperative’s members this spring.
Incumbent and Homer resident Jim Levine, who has served three years on the board, will face Kasilof resident Carl Martinez in the district that covers portions of Kasilof south to Kachemak Bay.
Martinez is a 54-year-old drafter and designer and said this election is his first time seeking an elected seat. He said he has experience with windmills and hydroelectric power in the Lower 48 and as a drafter and designer he has worked with power grid systems.
“I know quite a bit about this energy that we are using and I want to bring my experience into these meetings on what we should be doing in the future,” he said.
Specifically, Martinez said he would like to look more into renewable energies such as tidal and wind. He’d also like to ask questions of HEA officials he’s heard from residents.
“I’d like to talk about the practices of HEA … regarding in the past how HEA was able to bring power to dead-end areas and subdivisions back in the 60s and 70s and apparently they are not doing that anymore and those are just questions that people do ask me,” he said.
He said he didn’t necessarily have a list of changes he would like to advocate for.
“Everything seems to be running OK,” he said. “My concern is really for the future and alternative power, to talk about it and bring it here and talk about the future of technologies.
Said Martinez: “I’m the best candidate because I have experience with power, with electricity, from the plug all the way to the generating stations.”
Levine is a 57-year-old Homer resident and project manager for a construction company.
“It’s been real interesting and I think I have done a pretty good job for everyone trying to balance all of the issues and concerns and it’s been real fascinating to me and I’ve enjoyed it and want to keep going in that respect,” he said. “There’s also some more room in some other locations to keep improving.”
Levine said he wanted to run again to continue the work accomplished in his first term. That work revolves around his interest in tidal energy, he said.
“We’re making some progress and I would like to be able stick with it,” he said.
Once HEA completes the goals set up in the Independent Light Project, Levine said he’d like to push for further conservation and development of renewable sources of energy.
“I think we have a long ways to go with conservation issues,” he said. “That’s one of the main drivers for me on the Independent Light project. If we are no longer part of the Chugach (Electric Association) power grid, then conserving will actually provide us with lower rates, I guess. Right now it doesn’t matter if we save energy or not because we have to buy a certain amount from Chugach no matter what.”
Levine also wants to continue to push for open governance and making HEA more accessible to its members.
“When I first got on (the board), it seemed like a really closed board and now we have added a lot of stuff to the website and made it really easy for people to find out what is going to be happening at a meeting and now they can just go to the website and get the agenda and that kind of a thing,” he said.
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.