HEA board election nears

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Homer Electric Association members will have the chance to have a say in what happens with their co-op.

The electric cooperative serving the western Kenai Peninsula from Sterling to the south side of Kachemak Bay is mailing ballots to its members Friday to vote for three members of the board of directors.

About 19,000 ballots will be mailed, said HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher.

"(Members are) represented by the board of directors. Having a vote in the election is one of the key parts of having a cooperative," Gallagher said.

HEA has three districts with three board members for each. Each year, one seat is open for each district.

This year there are some changes in the election process. In the past, all HEA members voted for all board members. This year, members will only vote for the candidate in their district.

Here is a look at the candidates, as provided by HEA.

In District 1, serving Kenai and Nikiski, Ruth Fitzpatrick, the incumbent, said her focus will be on watching expenses and ensuring rates are kept as low as possible while keeping the co-op a viable entity. She said she has been on the HEA board for 13 years. She is a registered nurse, a member of the Teamsters and has worked with the public all of her adult life, she said.

Dallas White, running against Fitzpatrick, said he will work to provide HEA members with a consistent, stable and cost-effective power utility. He has served on the Seward City Council, Seward Port Authority Advisory Committee and the Cook Inlet Academy School Board. He also spent 20 years doing electrical work as an inside wire man for industrial, commercial and residential projects.

Incumbent Hugh Chumley is running unopposed in District 2 serving Soldotna, Sterling and Kasilof. He said he will search for ways to make the cooperative more efficient.

Chumley has served on the Ridgeway-Sterling Fire Service Area Board, Alaska Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative Inc. and Alaska Electric and Energy Co-op.

He has worked on oil field and construction projects and is a small business owner.

In District 3, for the area south of Kasilof, J. Michael Pate, the incumbent, wants to continue improving efficient and reliable transmission of power to all members. He also wants to improve these services throughout the entire Railbelt.

Pate has served on the ARECA Insurance Exchange board and the Wells Fargo Statewide Advisory Board. He was the owner of Pate Insurance Agency and is the managing director for Acordia of Alaska.

Brian Hirsch, opposing Pate, said he will pursue outside funding to develop renewable energy technologies to pursue low energy rates for members as well as working with contractors to promote renewable energy on new and existing construction. He said he will work to increase the reliability of power distribution, especially in remote areas.

In addition, Hirsch wants to increase training and job opportunities and conserve nonrenewable resources to reduce pollution from energy production.

The current directors' voting record is available at www.homerelectric.com.

Results of the election will be announced at HEA's annual membership meeting at 6 p.m. May 3 at Soldotna High School. Registration is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Cooperative members are encouraged to attend.

Several energy credits will be awarded as door prizes, including a grand prize of one year of free power up to 10,000 kilowatt hours. Hamburgers and hot dogs also will be served, starting at 4:30 p.m.

Mail-in ballots are due back May 2.

People who do not mail in their ballots will have the opportunity to vote at the annual meeting.

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