Five candidates are seeking election to Position 1 on the Skagit Public Utility District Board of Commissioners: Kenneth Goodwin, Wim Houppermans, Andrew Miller, Bryce Nickel and Rick Pitt. The term is for six years.
Al Littlefield, who has served in the District 1 position since 1985, is not seeking re-election.
The Skagit PUD is the water provider for the cities of Burlington, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley and neighboring rural and suburban areas — a total of 26,000 metered connections. The district also operates eight remote water systems, including systems on Fidalgo and Guemes islands.
The Anacortes American asked the candidates to respond to a set of questions.
Name: Wim Houppermans
Party preference: This is a non-partisan position. But I am a Democrat.
Occupation: Mechanical engineer at the PACCAR Technical Center
Education: Mechanical Engineering (MS) at the Technical University of Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Elected offices held: None
Community involvement: Board member of Evergreen Islands, member of Safe and Sane Skagit
Campaign website: None
Why are you running for office?: I care about our environment and working with Evergreen Islands has taught me how important water is. I’m running for PUD commissioner because I want to play a role in how we keep access to water for our consumption while maintaining a healthy environment.
What are the biggest issues facing the candidate who is elected to this position?: Defining or refining the policies that determine how the PUD provides its service. This means looking at doing the work with PUD staff versus outsourcing, providing careers at the PUD with a work force that reflects the cultural diversity of the Skagit County population, setting a path to providing fast internet services to businesses and resident in Skagit Valley, maintaining the PUD infrastructure, creating a long term plan after a study of our water needs and its availability 50 or more years from now.
How will you address them?: Commissioners set policy and provide oversight on behalf of the public. The actual work is done by the PUD staff, under direction of the General Manger of the PUD. I want to have a good work relationship with the General Manager. As commissioner, I will also listen to the concerns of residents, farmers and businesses and when needed bring these concerns to the commissioners’ meeting.
What sets you apart from your opponents?: I advocate for environmental stewardship and a long-term water plan. I also want the PUD to spend its money in the local economy and provide careers to Skagit residents.
How are you campaigning and engaging with voters during the pandemic?: Contact is limited, but talking with voters shapes me as a candidate. I am placing yard signs as I meet with property owners. I’m available for talks with voters. Of course I wear a mask, stay outside, keep a good distance and frequently use hand sanitizer.