La Plata County voters have the difficult task of choosing two members of the board of directors of La Plata Electric Association from among four good candidates. Recognizing the value of both experience and new ideas, The Durango Herald recommends a vote for Herb Brodsky and Michael Rendon.
LPEA is governed by a 12-member board, with three members from each of four districts. One seat from each district, a third of the board, is up for election each year.
District 1 consists of Archuleta County, where incumbent Lindon Stewart is being challenged by Mark Garcia, a mechanical engineer. The Herald leaves that race to our neighbors to the east.
The three other districts are all in La Plata County. In District 2, the western and southern part of the county, there is no vote. In what has to be seen as a testament to the esteem in which his neighbors hold him, the incumbent, rancher and former Fort Lewis College professor Tom Compton, is unopposed.
The contested races are in District 3, the city of Durango, and District 4, the part of the county to the north and east of Durango. With Harry Goff not seeking re-election, there is no incumbent in District 3. Brodsky is the incumbent in District 4. After having served on the LPEA board for two decades he lost a re-election bid last year to Heather Erb and was then appointed to fill out the term of Pam Patton who was named to the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
The District 3 contest has Rendon facing off against Richard Alan Yoder in a race that reflects conflicting visions for the electric co-op. Yoder would stress ensuring the availability of power, the quality of both the electricity provided and customer service, and keeping costs low. His is a traditional take on the role of LPEA and, in some respects, represents a back-to-basics reaction to the greater emphasis the co-op has placed on renewable energy and conservation in recent years. He blames recent rate increases in part on the utility’s move toward what he sees as more expensive sources of power.
Yoder is a thoughtful guy and makes some good points. In the end, though, Rendon has the better case. He correctly points out that moving toward renewable energy has overwhelming public support. And he favors developing more local sources of power that can also help LPEA better weather natural disasters and the power outages they can engender, both of which may become increasingly common. He also has a professional background in energy conservation.
But perhaps Rendon’s greatest strength is his demonstrated ability to work together with people of diverse interests and viewpoints – including people with whom he disagrees. On a 12-member board, that skill will be invaluable.
Herb Brodsky is being challenged in District 4 by Jack Turner, a Fort Lewis College graduate with 30 years experience in geology, hydrology and working with natural resources. Raised in Durango, Turner knows the community. He would work to diversify LPEA’s sources of energy to include both renewables and the pragmatic application of alternatives such as natural gas.
Turner would doubtless make a fine addition to the board. His only real drawback as a candidate is that he is running against Brodsky, a man with decades of experience with LPEA and an even longer history of business success. Brodsky not only brings to the job the institutional memory of past successes and failures, but the disposition to be both decisive and gracious. (Some of that can be seen in how readily he praises the job performance of Erb, the woman who unseated him in the last election.) Overall, Brodsky brings a level of experience and knowledge too valuable to ignore.
Choosing LPEA board members is a different task than picking individual candidates for office. Fit and balance should be considered as well. Brodsky and Rendon offer the contrasting but complimentary skills needed to move LPEA into the future.
Voters can cast ballots only in the district where they live. Depending on your address, vote for Herb Brodsky or Michael Rendon.