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PUD board vacancy yields 3 applicants

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Interviews scheduled, director appointment for Subdivision 1 anticipated later this month


After swearing in two directors to seats on the Columbia River People's Utility District board of directors, the board is now poised to interview three applicants interested in filling a vacant board seat.

Three people — Debbie Reed, Joseph Burks and Barbara Fail — submitted letters of interest for the seat representing the PUD's Subdivision 1 in Scappoose. The board is slated to appoint someone to fill the position later this month. SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Columbia River PUD Directors Jake Carter (left) and Rob Mathers are sworn into office Tuesday, Jan. 3 by attorney Phil Griffin. Carter retained his seat when he ran unopposed in the November election. Mathers ran against incumbent Richard Simpson, but bested Simpson for the seat. A third director is slated to be appointed to the board later this month.

A vacancy was announced last month after the Subdivision 1 seat was won by Nancy Ward, who was found to be an ineligible candidate after the election because she lives in a floating home just outside district boundaries.

The seat was vacated by Dave Baker, who did not run for re-election in 2016.

Applicants had just eight days to apply for consideration via the PUD's website after the vacancy and planned appointment were announced Dec. 21.

Reed ran against Ward for the seat in the November election, securing 37 percent of the vote, but Ward attracted nearly 62 percent.

Following Mathers and Carter taking the oath of office, the board weighed its options for appointing the next director.

Mark Larson, a former PUD employee, asked why the board could not just appoint Reed to the seat since she ran in the election.

Others, like Warren resident Dave Ehrenkranz, advocated for more public participation in the process.

After limited discussion, directors unanimously voted to hold a board workshop at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, to interview candidates before the PUD's regular meeting later that evening.

The interviews will be conducted with each of the three applicants separately, if each applicant agrees. As planned, applicants will be interviewed by directors in a room away from the public, with a live video feed provided to the public meeting room.

A two-person committee, consisting of Mathers and Carter, will formulate interview questions before the process.

Mathers was reluctant to take the committee position at first.

"I don't think I have enough experience ..." Mathers said.

"I don't think any of us has the experience," Director Craig Melton replied, reassuring Mathers.

After the afternoon interview process, directors are expected to appoint a director during the regular meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 17.