Story last updated at 3:35 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2002

HEA voters to pick 3 board members
Morris News Service-Alaska
A total of 18,206 ballots were mailed last Friday by Homer Electric Association to all the utility's members, according to HEA spokesman Joe Gallagher. Voters will select three volunteer members in May for three-year terms on the nine-member board of directors.

While the Kenai-Nikiski and South Kenai Peninsula districts will feature head-to-head campaigning between one incumbent and one newcomer in each district, District 2 (Kasilof, Soldotna and Sterling) offers a three-way race.

One candidate will be elected to fill a seat in each of three districts, but HEA members may vote for candidates in all districts. Each of the utility's customers is considered a member and part owner of the company.

District 3, covering Ninilchik south to Homer and the Kachemak Bay communities, will see incumbent Mike Pate's seat challenged by Doug Stark. Both candidates are from Homer.

Pate has been on the board for 14 years and said he wants to complete some of the projects that started during his last term.

"If we end up incorporating Seward into HEA, it would be good," he said. "It would consolidate electric utility on the peninsula into a single entity."

Pate said he will not be actively promoting his re-election bid and will stand on the merits of his reputation and experience with the board. "I never have campaigned for this position, and I wouldn't intend to," he said. "If you have been serving on board, the members who are involved know what you've been doing," he said.

Stark, a retired engineer in land development and surveying, is campaigning on a platform that promotes board election by district, improving electricity outage reporting, reducing board executive sessions and planned replacement of aging cables and equipment. A 20-year HEA member, Stark has also served on the Chugach Electric Association board.

In District 2 (Kasilof, Soldotna and Sterling) incumbent Jack Hetherton will face opposition from former board president and nine-year member Hugh Chumley and Kenai Peninsula Borough administrator Ed Oberts.

For District 1, Kenai and Nikiski, incumbent Ruth Fitzpatrick will run against Richard DeMello. Fitzpatrick has been on the board for 10 years, spending two years off from 1994 to 1995.

Ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. May 6 to be counted.

Results will be announced at HEA's annual meeting at Soldotna High School May 7 at 5:30 p.m.

<> Writers R.J. Kelly of the Homer News and Marcus K. Garner of the Peninsula Clarion contributed to this report.