Candidates for this office

Election Results

Skagit Public Utility District, Position 2

Final

Candidate Votes Percentage
Joe Lindquist 28,963
68%
Robbie Robertson 13,674
32%

Candidate Questionairres

Below are responses for the candidates running in this election.
Questions
Age Mount Vernon Mount Vernon
Residence Retired after 36 years Banking Industry Career Financial Advisor
Occupation Mesa College San Diego, The Ohio State University MBA School of Mortgage Banking, University of Alabama at Huntsville MBA School of Mortgage Banking, Numerous Bank Required Courses BA Business Administration—Management Western Washington University
Education Commissioner District 2 Skagit PUD Mount Vernon City Council Member (2005-present) (Chaired Parks and Recreation, Finance, Public Safety, Traffic Safety and Development Services Committees, served as Mayor Pro-Tem 2012 and 2016, City Council Representative to Northwest Clean Air Agency (2008-Present, Board Chair 2013 and 2017) City of Mount Vernon Representative to the Washington State Legislature Joint Water Supply Task Force (2018)
Elected offices held Commissioner District 2 Skagit PUD Skagit PUD Commissioner District 2
Elected offices sought Current Member Skagit Council of Governments, Washington State Department of Health Water Advisory Group, Chairperson Water Committee Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA), Member WPUDA Telecommunications Committee, Member WPUDA Government Affairs Committee. Past President WPUDA 2010, Past Executive Committee WPUDA (4years)2007-2011, Past Budget Committee (WPUDA 5 years), Past LaConner Kiwanis Member 1986-88, Past Conway Youth Soccer Coach 7 years, Past NW United Soccer Coach and Manager 7 years, Mount Vernon Citizens Patrol (Mt Vernon COPP's) 3rd Graduating Class, Past Member Board of Directors - Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC) 1985-86, PUD Citizens Committee - Chairperson System Development Fund Review Committee 1984, Past Associate Member Skagit Board of Realtors - Associate of the Year Award 1984, Member Director Skagit Rainier Classic and National Softball Tournament - 114 team entries 1986-1989 Mount Vernon Planning Commission (2004), Mount Vernon School District Citizen’s Advisory Committee (2007), Skagit Rotary Foundation President (2012-Present), Summersun Montessori Board Member (2017-Present), Skagit Rotary Club Vice President (2018-Present)
Community involvement robbie4water.com www.joeforpud.com
Campaign website For the last almost 18 years, I have shown through my proposals and votes, that I have no agenda other than to provide the best tasting, cleanest, and affordable water for the citizens of Skagit County. To best serve Skagit PUD and its ratepayers, the Commissioners need to be ready and willing to get their hands dirty today while preparing for the needs and demands of tomorrow. Over nearly two decades of service to the PUD, it has been a honor to be a part of the workforce whose staff engineers, operators and management develop and implement plans to advance our infrastructure and water quality while still remaining staunch protectors of the environment. If re-elected, the three biggest priorities for me will be to ensure the PUD continues to support the best in qualified and professional PUD employees such as the current workforce demonstrates at each level of the Utility, implementation of the 2018-2022 strategic planning initiative which will guide the decision-making process during the five year period, in three major disciplines; Customer Focused Services, Communication with the Public and Partners, and Internal Operations, Communication and Organizational Development, and addressing the financial needs of the next 10 year Capital Improvements Plan. I am seeking the office of Skagit County PUD Commissioner because of my concern for this essential utility. Water rates have risen at an unsustainable rate. PUD Customers are now paying 48% more for water than they did 5 years ago! The conduct of the sitting District two commissioner during meetings has not been what I believe the citizens of Skagit County deserve from an elected official. It was reported the November 16, 2016 edition of the Skagit Valley Herald, “Commissioners have frequent shouting matches at public meetings…” I believe my conduct in the last 13 years on the Mount Vernon City Council has demonstrated that I value and respect citizens, city staff and fellow elected officials.
Why are you running for office? Simple answer? Being fiscally prudent, yet savvy, while still fulfilling current and future infrastructure needs and maintaining affordable rate levels for customers. The cost of maintaining a rapidly growing water infrastructure system puts stress on every part of the operation. As the population growth continues at its current pace so too will the cost of maintaining the system. Rising utility costs, aging infrastructure, increased rates, and keeping a highly skilled highly motivated workforce are all challenges that must be met. The biggest issue facing the winner of this election will be working with PUD staff to find efficiencies in the system. We can’t continue on the path of 8.5% increases in rates per year. New oversight of the PUD is needed.
What is the single biggest issue facing the candidate who is elected to this position? My fellow Commissioners and I have collaborated with PUD management and employees to develop a 5-year strategic plan for the PUD. The 2018-2022 Five Year Strategic Plan is meant to establish PUD objectives in three main areas of Customer Focused Services, Communication with the Public and Partners, and Internal Operations, Communication and Organizational Development. This strategic plan is not a top down item but encompasses input, interaction and agreement by employees of each department within the organization, including management and Commissioners To properly determine what the most important criteria for the PUD, it was identified and corroborated by staff, operators, management and the Commission the top three items identified are: 1. Maintaining pace with continuing population growth and development. 2. Water sustainability 3. Asset management. Each of these items were discussed at length so that it was clear to all that everyone at the PUD was on the “same page” with what these items meant to the PUD. Skagit County faces many growth challenges, and this means that the PUD will experience those challenges as well. To meet those challenges, it is critical that the organization have a clear vision of where it is going and a commitment on how we intend to get there. I will also begin the preliminary preparations budgetarily for the next phase of Capital Improvement Projects. Securing low interests rates for project financing is crucial for the protection of ratepayers from unnecessary rate increases. When I helped the PUD secure a $10 million Capital Projects loan at a local community bank, that banking decision saved the PUD over $1.1 million in unnecessary bond council fees and other extraneous charges, at an interest rate 1.75% lower than the bond market. Through my leadership - diverse banking and finance expertise - and ability to look towards the future with a keen eye for project management and fiscal responsibility, I am proud to report that today the Skagit PUD is a $200 million gross asset Utility with a net asset position of about $160 million. When I was first elected in 2000, the Skagit PUD had a gross asset position of about $96 million. It is critically important that as one of three Commissioners with a fiduciary obligation to serve in the best interest of the PUD, I consider what is best for the PUD presently, while also giving equal consideration to the projections and growth forecasts provided by our local county commissioners. First I will review and evaluate the timing and scope of the large capital projects that are being planned at Skagit PUD. Next I will review the most recently completed evaluation of Skagit PUD water rates compared to similar Public Utility Districts of similar size. We can and must continue to upgrade our water treatment and distribution system, but do it in a way that does not burden the ratepayers as they have been over the last five years. I will meet with our citizens and customers to listen to their concerns and ideas. I will openly communicate with them the current status and future needs of the Skagit PUD. As chair of the City of Mount Vernon Finance Committee I have set strategic goals and helped find the funding sources to achieve these goals.
How will you address this issue? As a three term Commissioner, the citizens of Skagit County have reaffirmed their trust in my work and leadership as their PUD Commissioner by continuing to endorse me with their vote. I am seeking reelection because the demand for knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of water and utility management comes at a time when that expertise is critical for the protection of our natural resources from major growth, encroachment by developers, state agencies, and state and federal mandates. Now is not the time to have inexperienced hands at the helm of your PUD. Experience, proven success, extensive knowledge in water system policy, and an open and honest recognition of all the intricate and complex issues confronting the future of utility services in Skagit County, is needed now more than ever before to ensure the quality of Skagit PUD systems are maintained for years to come. My record of accomplishments over these last 17.5 years speaks to my qualifications as candidate for Skagit PUD Commissioner District 2: transparent protection of the Utility’s assets, unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship, and prioritizing the long-term sustainability of Skagit PUD and the needs of our Skagit County residents. I ask for your vote in 2018 for PUD Commissioner because I have shown that I can work well with all stakeholders in local government. As a city council member I have been a part of some of the largest Public Works projects in Mount Vernon’s history; the floodwall and Skagit Riverwalk construction as well as a 37 million dollar upgrade to the city’s wastewater plant. My experience in local government makes me uniquely qualified to hit the ground running at Skagit PUD and bring civility and professionalism to PUD meetings that has been lacking in recent years.
Why should voters choose you? As the demand for greater utility resource management continues to increase, and the technology in water filtration, treatment, storage and distribution advances, elected PUD Commissioners must have a clear understanding and knowledge of the water industry with relation to the needs of Skagit PUD and its ratepayers. It is important for the Commissioner to know what processes Skagit PUD employs throughout the system to ensure the water brought into your home is as clean, pure, and great tasting as possible. Skagit PUD has consistently met and exceeded those efforts during my tenure as Commissioner, and I attribute a lot of that success to the continued education that has been offered to me and my fellow commissioners. The opportunities available for Commissioners to collaborate and network with water experts, engineers, and other elected officials from across the state on various new ways to filter, store, and deliver water in the cleanest and most efficient way possible is an incredibly beneficial tool to not only keep our utility relevant and competitive, but to also ensure that the PUD is represented by invested and engaged individuals who are also focused on providing efficient, quality services while remaining fiscally responsible. As an active board member of the Washington State Department of Health Water Advisory Group, I am humbled by the opportunity to provide input and perspective to the Department of Health while engaging in educational dialogue with fellow members, a very talented broad-based group of water purveyors and consultants from across the State. My work with the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) has provided phenomenal leadership training, policy making education, legislative involvement at the State and Federal Level, as well Commissioner Training via the WPUDA Education Committee. These trainings are water-centric, but also focus on critical telecommunication training as well. The education provided, and the knowledge obtained, is critical information that I was able to use and refer to during the long process of forming SkagitNet LLC between Skagit PUD and the Port of Skagit County. This union will ensure completion of wholesale high speed fiber from Anacortes to Concrete, and provide connections very much needed for those citizens, businesses, law enforcement, fire and medical providers in our rural and underserved areas of Skagit County. With financial support from the County Commissioners, the State Community Economic and Revitalization Board (CERB), and a keen interest from the Governor's Office, SkagitNet is the first LLC in the state between two public entities to jointly combine resources and efforts to build out a county telecommunications backbone. The Skagit PUD is best served by Commissioners eager to learn, listen, and collaborate. Continuing education is a Commissioner’s responsibility, necessary for the advancement and security of the Skagit PUD. Actively looking for opportunities to learn and collaborate with peers demonstrates a commitment to serve in a capacity that leaves no room for self-serving agendas. I feel confident that I have led by example and demonstrated this type of leadership during my time as your Commissioner. I was elected with no agenda other than making the Skagit PUD the best possible and our successes thus far speak to the reasons why I remain the clear choice to continue serving as your Skagit PUD Commissioner for another term. I bring a fresh perspective to the PUD, but I also have 13 years working in local government and with some of the largest Public Works projects in Skagit County. My experience in working with utilities outside of just water will provide a new perspective to the board. The City of Mount Vernon operates a wastewater, solid waste and surface water utility as well as Skagit County’s largest municipal fiber optic network. I am also the only candidate in this race who owns property served by Skagit PUD.
What sets you apart from your opponent?

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