LPEA results

Not a radical shift in direction, but a meaningful election nonetheless

La Plata Electric Association members returned two incumbents to the co-op’s board of directors this year and replaced two others with new faces. The results represent a subtle, but real and important change.

There are 12 people on the LPEA board, three from each of four districts. With directors serving three-year terms, one seat from each district goes before the members every year.

The system affords the opportunity for change, even accounting for the long tenure board members often achieve. At the same time, it all but guarantees institutional continuity and stability. A maximum of four incumbents, one third of the board, can be replaced in any given year.

This year, four candidates ran as a clean-energy slate. Two won. That would seem to reflect both the public’s enthusiasm for more green power and the individual dynamics of the various districts.

In northern La Plata County’s District 4, Heather Erb took the seat held for 21 years by Herb Brodsky. Erb came in first in a three-way race with Brodsky and Ann McCoy Harold, who placed third with 17 percent of the vote.

The other challenger to prevail was Britt Bassett in District 3, who beat incumbent Bobby Lieb with 67 percent of the vote. The makeup of that district, the city of Durango, clearly played a role. Bassett, an engineer and solar power expert, tapped into Durango’s strong interest in alternative and renewable energy.

In District 2, challenger Bruce Baizel did not fare as well. That district, which includes western and southern La Plata County, reflected its rural and conservative nature and stuck with the incumbent, rancher Jerry McCaw.

District 1 includes Archuleta County and parts of Hinsdale and Mineral counties. There, incumbent Bob Formwalt beat Kirsten Skeehan by 50 votes – out of 1,900 cast. It was a strong challenge to a well-known, well-liked former county commissioner.

Running a slate of greens did not fully pan out. It did, however, reveal more interest in alternative energy than critics claimed. Expect no radical change, but this election could direct just a bit more of LPEA’s institutional thought toward renewable energy.

And that is how things do change.