LPEA election candidates set

Ballots will be mailed April 19; must be returned May 10

In the four races for the board of the La Plata Electric Association, only District 2, which covers southwestern La Plata County, will not have a competitive race.

The deadline to return 15-signature petitions to qualify for the LPEA ballot was 1 p.m. Wednesday. The LPEA is a member-owned cooperative providing power primarily to La Plata and Archuleta counties. It is overseen by a 12-member board with three members up for election every year.

Incumbent Tom Compton, vice president of the LPEA board, will run unopposed in District 2.

Incumbent Lindon Stewart and Mark Garcia will face off for the open District 1 seat, which covers Archuleta County.

Stewart, an electrical engineer, retired after 30 years with Fluor Corp. and was appointed to the LPEA board in 2011. He was the project director for the engineering, procurement, construction and start-up of seven major power plants and has been involved in technologies such as biomass, solar, waste to energy, coal and natural gas-fired turbines. He has lived in Pagosa Springs for 10 years.

Garcia, who trained as a mechanical engineer and was the town manager of Pagosa Springs from 2003 to 2008, is now the executive director of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. He has served on the LPEA Round Up Foundation Board and worked with LPEA on several projects. He has lived in Pagosa Springs for 19 years.

Newcomers Michael Rendon and Alan Yoder will be vying for the District 3 seat representing Durango. The winner will replace incumbent Harry Goff, who has decided not to run again.

Rendon is a former mayor of Durango and served on the City Council for four years. He ran the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center for 5˝ years and is currently the Environmental Stewards Program Director with the Southwest Conservation Corps, where he directs reclamation work on abandoned coal mines across the country. He has lived in Durango for 21 years.

“I believe the board is at a pivotal and exciting point in the way it can provide energy to our community,” Rendon said. “I will work to improve policies enabling more local renewable energy production, which will increase local economic development opportunities.”

Yoder, who retired after 40 years of serving as chief information officer for organizations such as Idaho Power, Lovelace Health Systems and San Mateo County General Hospital in California, has lived in Durango since 2008. He was a manager with Colorado-Ute Electric Association when LPEA purchased power from it. He also lived here in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I’m a person who is in favor of the rights of the members and not the special interest groups that have recently been affecting our rates,” Yoder said.

In District 4, which covers northern La Plata County, incumbent Herb Brodsky will face Jack D. Turner.

Turner is an adjunct professor of geology at Southwest Colorado Community College. He grew up in Durango and is a member of the current class of Leadership La Plata. Turner mediated a re-licensing for hydro facilities operated by Tacoma Power, with dam releases designed to mimic natural river flows while maintaining electric generation.

“Our energy decisions impact our community,” Turner said in his candidate profile. “I am running to ensure these decisions protect and preserve our economy, environment and livelihood.”

Brodsky, a business consultant, has served a total of 22 years on the board after losing re-election last year in a close race to Heather Erb. After a four-month hiatus, Brodsky was reappointed to the board to fill out the term of Pam Patton, who was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Brodsky said he committed himself to running for another term as a condition of his appointment.

Brodsky and his challenger, Turner, fashion themselves as moderates.

While Turner said the LPEA board has become too conservative, Brodsky said, “I feel I represent a very diverse community. There’s so much to this business than any one issue,” he said.

Brodsky touted his experience too.

“If people are really interested, they should know what they’re getting into,” he said.

LPEA ballots will be mailed to members on April 19 and must be returned May 10.