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Our View: Luschen for LPEA board District 4

For a District 4 seat on the La Plata Electric Association board, both candidates would add very different backgrounds and emphases. A lot goes on at LPEA for members to be able to flip the switch and not be surprised by higher energy bills.

The question is, which candidate will help members keep this reliable service and move us forward with the energy changes to come?

David Luschen would apply what he has experienced during more than two decades in senior leadership positions in a municipal-owned electrical generation and distribution company that serves San Antonio. From the “wires” side of the business – Luschen’s words – he knows the technical, financial and member services’ details that would make him a quick study on the LPEA board.

Luschen has an engineering degree, a Master of Business Administration and has been a Durango-area resident for a year and a half, having followed a brother-in-law here. His accomplishments are the kind we welcome in the Southwest.

John Purser, is a 19-year La Plata County resident, who has closely followed LPEA board decisions. Purser is focused on correcting what he sees as a lack of transparency in meetings and operations. A policy wonk, Purser made strong points on shining light on governance to include executive sessions, vendor requirements, and purchase and contract requirements, along with future additions and expansions.

He doesn’t identify any ethical or legal missteps, but says appearances and reporting aren’t what they should be. He also brought up special interests that might not serve all members. Again, no allegations of wrongdoing. Purser argues that LPEA, an enterprise critical to the county, ought to be conscious of the need to operate at a higher level of integrity and openness.

Tri-State Generation has not failed us, he said, and what’s good for LPEA as well as Tri-State can be respectfully negotiated.

Purser has degrees in economics and information science, and is making his second attempt at securing a board seat.

The lone seat is a competitive change from previous years, when debate was intense over a possible shift to green energy, how much it would cost and whether it would be as reliable as Tri-State. Moods have changed now that LPEA is closing in on an agreement that would shift about 50% of its power needs to a greener, lower cost source – or sources – with a partial exit and acceptable price from Tri-State. This seems to be the direction, based on consensus of the board and members.

The Durango Herald’s editorial board endorses Luschen for the LPEA board, District 4. His career in electrical power has been broad and deep, and has application to LPEA with its co-op status. The San Antonio power entity is responsive to elected officials and citizens, rather than distant corporate leadership and shareholders with other incentives. Municipal-owned is closer to LPEA’s mission. Luschen has a proven record in the industry.

A newspaper always advocates for transparency, but in this case we don’t believe that LPEA is falling so short that it requires a candidate with that focus. We’re concerned this would mean bylaws would need to change in addition to the work in front of directors.