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Two elections, quality candidates

There are two elections on the horizon — to select directors to sit on the boards of Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the La Plata Electric Association.

Voters will pick three members for the PAWSD board. That election is set for May 8.

Voters in Archuleta County will elect one director for the LPEA board. Ballots will be mailed to co-op members tomorrow, April 20.

Traditionally, elections to select directors on these boards have elicited marginal interest among voters. With controversy at hand — such as the ongoing Dry Gulch situation with PAWSD — attention is piqued and more voters swing into action.

Without a ruckus, however, the elections produce but a small blip on the political radar screen.

The traditional weak interest belies the fact there are few more important boards in the area. The upcoming elections merit the participation of everyone whose lives here are affected by decisions made by PAWSD and LPEA directors.

These organizations deliver two of the most vital elements in our lives in Pagosa Country — clean water and power. Without them, the community as we know it ceases to exist.

Further, PAWSD deals with the treatment of the major amount of wastewater in the community and, if things proceed on a plan to pipe wastewater from the downtown area to the Vista Treatment Plant, that amount will increase.

Both districts face significant problems and projects in the near and long term. New directors need the skills and knowledge to deal with them.

PAWSD must correct a dramatic water loss problem, deal with ways to ensure there is a sufficient water supply in drought years and for future growth, contend with the continuing saga of Dry Gulch and debt questions, strike a satisfactory agreement regarding the proposed wastewater pipeline and treatment project, and shepherd that project to completion.

LPEA faces the specter of rising energy costs, must ensure effective delivery of electricity (implementing ways to protect the delivery system), and consider the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

Rates take center stage for both districts.

What is encouraging about these two elections is the quality of many of the candidates.

This week’s SUN gives readers material to help shape choices in both races. An analysis of the candidate articles will reveal one thing: we are blessed in each instance with a commendable slate.

The PAWSD election features six candidates — Burt Adams, Mike Church, Ray Finney, Patrick O’Brien, Chris Pitcher and Glenn Walsh. Several of the candidates have professional training in areas that could be of great benefit to the district; some have experience in fieslds in which knowledge of water treatment and delivery systems, and of wastewater systems, is involved.

The two candidates in the LPEA election — Bob Formwalt and Kirsten Skeehan — are extremely credible. Formwalt, the incumbent, has experience in finance and public service. Skeehan presents an impressive educational and business resume. As will be obvious to anyone who reads this week’s article about the LPEA candidates, each has done the homework necessary for the job, each has a deep and informed interest in the co-op, its members and its future.

Many times, there is no viable competition for seats on boards. Not so with these two races. If voters sift through the comments made by the PAWSD candidates and separate the wheat from the chaff, we are likely to end up with a board evolved from its current makeup. A decision in the LPEA race, while difficult, will result in an excellent representative for the district. Karl Isberg

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