The Skagit Public Utility District decided Tuesday to suspend its search for a new general manager.

The suspension was made by the PUD Board of Commissioners due to “comments about candidates” made during candidate interviews held June 14, according to a news release from PUD spokesman Kevin Tate.

“(The comments) were serious enough to suspend the hiring process,” Tate said when called for further comment, but declined to say more.

Commissioner Robbie Robertson said one commissioner made a derogatory comment about one candidate, which was overheard by several others who were present.

Robertson declined to name the commissioner, the candidate or the specifics of the comment.

He said the commissioner’s comment created a perception of bias against the candidate, and he was worried the PUD might violate discrimination in hiring laws.

The specifics of the suspension were discussed in executive session and so are not open to the public.

The hiring process may be restarted at the beginning of 2017, Robertson said.

“We had some pretty good candidates,” he said. “My hope is that there will be good candidates again.”

Commissioner Jim Cook is leaving office at the end of this year. Robertson said waiting until the new commissioner joins the board makes sense because they will work with the new general manager for the next six years, while Cook would only work with them for a few months.

Cook did not respond to a request for comment.

Prothman, the Issaquah recruitment company that PUD contracted with to facilitate the hiring process, did not respond to a request for comment.

Interim General Manager George Sidhu, who is also a candidate for the general manager position, will continue in the position.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH{p style=”margin-bottom: 0in;”}

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