CLALLAM — Simpson holds big lead over Kelly in PUD race

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Incumbent Ted Simpson had a commanding lead Tuesday night over challenger Cindy Kelly in the race for Clallam County Public Utility District District 3 commissioner.

Simpson, who has been on the PUD for 27 years, had 9,897 votes, or 57.7 percent, while Kelly, the manager of a local water association and a Port Angeles School Board member, had 7,252, or 42.3 percent.

Simpson said he was pleased with the ballot count — “That makes me feel great,” he said — but added that he didn't plan to to celebrate until the results were finalized.

Kelly was not available for comment. The election results come in the wake of a state Auditor's Office report issued last week about her husband, Timm Kelly, that determined that the Clallam PUD should seek recovering of stipend money paid him before he was fired in April for allegedly violating the PUD's residency policy

Ballots in the PUD race were among 26,870 counted Tuesday night by the Clallam County Auditor's Office; 47,157 ballots were mailed out countywide last month. The auditor's office also has 5,481 ballots in hand that are yet to be counted, for a total return of 32,351 votes, or 65.6 percent.

In addition to the 5,481 ballots on hand, Auditor Patty Rosand expects about 8,000 more ballots to come in today and Thursday for a final voter turnout of 86 percent.

The next vote count will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Simpson, 70, has served as a Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner since 1985 and is the owner and president of Angeles Electric, Inc.

Kelly, 55, is the manager of the Dry Creek Water Association, which serves the Dry Creek community just west of William R. Fairchild International Airport, and has served as an elected member of the Port Angeles School Board since 2001.

In a pre-election debate, Kelly emphasized water and a Carlsborg wastewater treatment plant as major issues facing the PUD, while Simpson said the cost of more expensive renewable power would be an even bigger problem.

Under voter-approved Initiative 947, which took effect in December 2006, utilities must use renewable energy, like that from solar, for 9 percent of retail electric loads by Jan. 1, 2016 and at least 15 percent of loads by Jan. 1, 2020.

Timm Kelly filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Commission against the utility district last month alleging he had been wrongly fired by the district in April.

The PUD alleges that the Kelly, a line foreman, was fired for violating district policy by living outside the boundaries of the Forks service area while collecting a stipend of more than $550 a month for living in that area.

The state Auditor's Office said that Kelly — president and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 997 — was paid $24,726 in district residency stipends for living in Forks when he was not residing there and that the district should seek to recover the money.

Cindy Kelly's response, after a PUD General Manager Doug Nass told the commission about her husband's complaint in early October was:

“I'm Cindy Kelly, and I'm running for Clallam County PUD, and my election has nothing to do with my family, just like it didn't six years ago when I ran.”

She ran against Simpson six years ago and lost by 299 votes.

She also described the situation as “timely because we're in a campaign season.”

Since then, neither of the Kellys has responded to requests for comment.

The Clallam County Public Utility District serves all of Clallam County except the city of Port Angeles, which has its own electric utility.

PUD commissioners serve six-year terms and are compensated $1,800 per month.

Commissioners also are paid $104 for each day spent on utility district business up to $14,560 per year.

In total, commissioners can be paid as much as $36,160 annually.
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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 07. 2012 3:07AM
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