MOUNT VERNON — In a unanimous vote Tuesday, George Sidhu was named general manager of the Skagit Public Utility District.
“I’m happy that the commissioners have faith in me,” Sidhu said.
Sidhu has served as interim general manager for about 15 months.
As interim general manager, he said his job was to stabilize operations inside the district. Now he will also be responsible for representing the PUD to local governments and to the public.
“I want to be more of a public face in the community (for the district),” he said.
Sidhu plans to be more present in the community by making appearances at city council or county commissioner meetings.
He was promoted to interim general manager in December 2015 after a contentious vote by commissioners instructed the then-interim general manager to step down.
In May 2016, the PUD began searching for candidates for the general manager position, but the search was suspended in June after one commissioner made a derogatory comment about a candidate, according to the district.
The commissions elected not to go through a hiring process again and instead decided to promote Sidhu after he underwent a performance evaluation, said commissioner Robbie Robertson.
Commissioner Eron Berg said he initially hoped to advocate for restarting the public hiring process, but changed his mind after speaking with district staff.
He said he frequently heard words such as integrity, fairness and teamwork used to describe Sidhu.
“George has a huge amount of integrity ... that will carry this PUD forward,” Robertson said.
Sidhu said the district has been in a holding pattern while waiting for a permanent general manger. Several positions are empty or filled by interims.
His previous position, engineering manager, is filled by an interim, and the finance department has lacked a manager for about a year.
Sidhu said he plans to start the process of filling these positions with permanent staff.