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By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
Ballots for the election of three directors on the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) board are set to be mailed Friday, April 19.
LPEA directors represent their geographic districts and help determine current and future policy at the electric cooperative. Election results will be announced during the LPEA annual meeting on May 11.
“We encourage our members to be involved,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “We are facing challenges in the industry, and we will need to be thoughtful and conscientious as we explore our options going forward. This election is very important. We encourage LPEA members to get to know the candidates in their district and vote.”
In accordance with LPEA’s bylaws, annually one seat in each of LPEA’s four districts comes up for election. This year in District 2 (south and west La Plata County), incumbent director Tom Compton was the only nominee, thus the election in that district will be cancelled and Compton retains his seat.
The approximately 7,700 LPEA members in Archuleta County — District 1 — will elect a representative to the board from a field of two: incumbent Lindon Stewart and new candidate Mark Garcia.
Ballots must be returned by 4 p.m., Friday, May 10, to FredrickZink & Associates, the independent, Durango-based CPA firm retained by LPEA to tally the ballots utilizing La Plata County’s official ballot counting equipment.
If not voting by mail, members can bring their ballots to the annual meeting at Sky Ute Casino and Resort in Ignacio on May 11. Registration for the annual meeting begins at 9 a.m., with the business meeting to commence at 10:30. Anyone voting at the annual meeting must do so prior to 10:30.
One of the following candidates will be elected to represent District 1, Archuleta County
Lindon Stewart is the incumbent candidate for District 1:
“In these unprecedented times in the U.S., everyone has been impacted financially in many ways and our electric rates have been no exception. In the 18 months since I was appointed to the LPEA board, I have learned, through firsthand experience and the director classes I have taken, just how many factors impact our electric rates.
“The LPEA Mission Statement states, ‘La Plata Electric Association provides its members safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost while being environmentally responsible.’
“We must focus on all elements of this statement, but cost and environment seem to take the headlines. I believe we need to make every effort to insure that the electric rates are as fair to all our members as reasonably possible. I believe we need to continue to emphasize the effort that LPEA has had underway for some time promoting energy efficiency and net metering. These programs help keep the electric rates down for all members.
“The LPEA staff and the Board of Directors are working on an ‘Alternative Energy Plan’ that will provide the path forward on alternative energy for LPEA, including items such as Community Solar Gardens, which I support so long as members are not burdened with higher electric rates.
“My only agenda is to support the Mission Statement. I will continue to be an effective board member by being respectful of the other board members’ opinions, be a good listener, be a positive participant, thereby earning the respect for my opinions by the other board members.”
Mark Garcia is a new candidate for District 1.
“I’m excited with the opportunity to be your LPEA Director and want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who don’t know me.
“I have lived in Pagosa since 1994 and been an LPEA member for 19 years. My family and I are active within the community and love Pagosa. I’m a mechanical engineer and currently work as the Executive Director for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. I have been consulting to local governments in southern Colorado and was previously Pagosa Springs Town Manager from 2003-2008.
“Over the years, I have worked closely with LPEA Directors and staff on multiple projects. I also served on the LPEA Round Up Foundation Board 2000-2004 and was president for three years. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work and experience with LPEA.
“Today, existing energy sources (coal and natural gas) are the mainstay for energy production, however alternative energies (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass) are on the forefront. Energy demand and transmission capacity are also important issues. Many challenges lie ahead and will have a major impact on LPEA in the coming years. It’s imperative LPEA be prepared for current and future energy challenges and able to effectively respond to member needs, demands and concerns.
“I believe my engineering and local government background will serve me well as your Director, and I commit to work hard and strive for efficient and professional operation of your cooperative. I would appreciate your support and vote. Thank you.”