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VOTE411 Voter Guide

SKAGIT COUNTY PUD Commissioner 1

The commissioner is a member of the board of commissioners that oversees the Public Utility District. The PUD provides utility services to the customers of the systems it owns and operates. The PUD is empowered to develop and operate any facilities necessary for the distribution of its utility services.

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    Kenneth Goodwin
    (NP)

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    Wim Houppermans
    (NP)

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    Andrew Miller
    (NP)

  • Bryce Nickel
    (NP)

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    Rick Pitt
    (NP)

Biographical Information

What role can the PUD play in preserving agriculture as a viable sector of our local economy?

The PUD and the Port of Skagit have formed a partnership to help county residents access fiber optics. What are your thoughts on this project?

What are your thoughts about the proposed $20 million dollar capital improvement plan,its location and the role the PUD facilities play in our community?

Experience (Max 500 characters) Woodinville Water District Commissioner 17 yrs Director of Finance Alderwood Water District 12 yrs Port of Anacortes Commissioner 2018- VP Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts President, Board member Water and Sewer Risk Management Pool, provides all risk insurance to Water ans sewer Districts in the state. VP Snohomish River Regional Watert Alliance, this organization purchased and transferred the largest water right in the history of the state CPA with Price Waterhouse & Co
Campaign Phone (206) 300-6200
Town where you live Anacortes
The PUD can take a leadership role with the stakeholders including the farmers, tribes, county, City of Anacortes and the Department of Ecology to craft a long term solution to water supply. The farms are a vital part of the valley and must be preserved. I have experience in preserving agricultural lands. As President of the Hollywood Hill Association in Woodinville we participated in legal action against a King County attempt to convert Ag Lands into recreational uses. The case went to the State Supreme court and we hired Helsell Fetterman law firm to argue our and others position. We won a unanimous decision (Supreme Court of Washington King County Respondent v. Central Puget Sound GMHB Case No 68284-4 Dec 14, 2000) I was also the VP of the Snohomish River Regional Water Authority and we were successful in changing the place of use of a 36 MGD water right on the Snohomish river to benefit the Woodinville Water District (WWD) while I was a Commissioner of the WWD.
With the outbreak of Covid19 it has been demonstrated that the internet is an essential service of all households. The partnership of the PUD and the Port of Skagit is a natural fit as the PUD can provide billing services as it has an existing customer service system and the Port has unique access to funds for economic development.
The 20 million dollar capital budget is only for this fiscal year, the PUD has identified over 160 million dollars in capital projects. The infrastructure is constantly deteriorating; reservoirs, treatment plants, transmission lines, distribution lines, meters, vehicles, computer software, offices and maintenance buildings are in need of maintenance, repair and eventual replacement. The PUD has the responsibility of providing water to the public. The long term planning of capital projects is required to meet that obligation. It will be funded from General Facility Charges to new customers hooking up to the system, long term bonds, Public works Trust Fund loans when available and capital funding from rates. Responsible capital improvement projects are necessary to providing the public with safe, clean and reliable water.
Experience (Max 500 characters) Predicting the durability of trucks at the PACCAR Technical Center, Mount Vernon, for the past 20 years. Board member, secretary of Evergreen Islands
Campaign Phone (360) 202-9672
Town where you live Anacortes
The PUD can commission a study that will forecast the need and the availability of water for the next decades. The need will grow as Skagit county sees more development. The availability of water changes as our climate changes. The winters will be wetter and dryer summers, our glaciers will melt and the contribution of glacial melt to the Skagit River flow will vanish. This means that the demand for water in late summer will conflict with the need of water for our fish and other wildlife. We all love the beauty of Puget Sound. It creates jobs in the fishing and tourism industry. Once the salmon runs stop the orca will leave, forests degrade and jobs will be lost. For some a way of life is lost. We need a good salmon run. When the study is complete the PUD must act! It's too early to say how. But a likely component is the conservation of water and possibly the PUD could help farmers establishing best practices.
The Public Utility Districts were established to conserve the water and power resources of the State of Washington and to supply public utility services including water and electricity for all uses. In 2000 the law was changed and a PUD can also provide broadband telecommunication service. I view internet access as a public utility, and thus a service the PUD may provide. The Port of Skagit promotes economic development. The partnership is natural as the internet plays a role in almost every business. Most of the work will need to be done by the PUD (providing the fiber and billing service), but having the partnership with the Port of Skagit will greatly help with getting the funding for this project.
I viewed the current capital improvement plan. It focuses on maintenance of the current infrastructure. It is much larger than $20 million. I am pleased that the decision was made to stay in the current building and it will be remodeled. The current location is great.

Besides the Aqua room for a larger meeting the building could also offer smaller meeting rooms.
Experience (Max 500 characters) Farmer (Tulip Town), Chief Executive Officer (Spinach Bus Ventures, Tulip Town, Fairhaven Mill), Adjunct Professor, Leadership Studies (Western Washington University) Director of Business Retention & Expansion (EDASC), Global Health, Safety, and Security Manager (Amazon), Business Continuity Program Manager (Expedia), Environmental and Economic Sustainability Strategy Program Manager (Weyerhaeuser), Intelligence, Cyber-Security, and Latin American Foreign Area Officer. Combat Aircrew USAF
Campaign Phone (360) 399-6462
Town where you live Mount Vernon
The PUD can be an active partner with the ag community on solutions to access to water challenges we face during droughts and summer months. The work that has been done with the interlocal agreement is an excellent first step in formalizing these discussions but much work remains to be done to highlight the challenges farmers are facing with regard to access to water. Additionally, the PUD should champion conversations with other water stakeholders in the Skagit and Samish Basin related to the timing of the release of water from regional dams. Lastly, the PUD should be a vocal advocate for helping the entire community understand the connections between soil health and water quality that occur due to the positive benefits of crop rotation and the role that access to water plays in those crop rotations.
The PUD should prioritize the use of its dark fiber that is currently in place as well as pursue opportunities to more actively partner on Skagit Net with the Port of Skagit and other local partners. The City of Anacortes is doing exciting work in leveraging existing infrastructure and technological advances to pursue a "fiber where the water is" solution that I consider a benchmark the PUD ought to vigorously examine as a potential source of both revenues and added quality of life and economic benefit to the community.
The PUD is in the infrastructure business. It's never going to be cheaper to do these projects, however, the complications of a global pandemic and subsequent grant and potential state and federal monies being suspended it would be wise for the PUD to take a hard look at the project list and reprioritize within this new context. Projects that prioritize the continuity of operations and conservation of water should take precedence over any other project in this portfolio.
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Experience (Max 500 characters) I am an attorney with over 30 years’ experience practicing real property, municipal, and corporate law. I started my career as a staff attorney/law clerk with the Washington State Supreme Court. For the past 13 years, I've been general counsel representing Grays Harbor PUD. I’ve also been a commissioner for a small water district in Eastern Washington. I have a BA in Economics from the UW and a JD from Creighton University.
Campaign Phone (360) 218-4330
Town where you live I have made my home in Skagit County since 1989. My wife, Karen and I currently live on Bayhill outside Burlington.
First, both 2015 and 2019 were drought years where irrigation water was cutoff because of below minimum instream flows in the Skagit River. In response, the PUD worked with Ecology to provide emergency water to our farmers. Although this was a temporary fix, it was critical, and I would support these efforts until we find a permanent fix. Second, the PUD recently entered an Interlocal Agreement with the Skagit Drainage and Irrigation District Consortium, a partnership of twelve Skagit County dike, drainage, and irrigation districts, agreeing to work with the Consortium to advance its Watershed Management Plan and long-term agricultural water supply needs. I agree that the PUD should continue these efforts. Third, I believe the PUD should participate in the re-licensing of Seattle’s Skagit River dams. A modest change in late summer discharges from these three dams could provide the resources needed to secure a permanent, uninterruptable source of agricultural water.
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