PORT ANGELES — Jim Waddell, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee, had a slight lead in the initial count of votes for the District 3 seat of the Clallam County Public Utility District over Ted Simpson, a 33-year incumbent.
Waddell had 7,844 votes as of Tuesday evening’s count, or 50.58 percent, to Simpson’s 7,664 votes, or 49.42 percent. Both are Port Angeles residents.
The entire county, with the exception of Port Angeles residents, votes in the election. The next count of ballots will be Friday.
“A lot of people were voting for that position,” Waddell, 65, said Wednesday. “I’m encouraged [by Tuesday’s count], particularly with Ted’s experience. That was always going to be my biggest challenge.”
The 76-year-old Simpson, retired owner of the Port Angeles-based Angeles Electric, Inc., was elected to District 2 seat on the PUD board in 1984 and 1990, and elected to the District 3 PUD board seat in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2012.
Waddell, 65, who has not held a position in public office, said the most significant difference between him and the incumbent is their approach to rates passed along from the Bonneville Power Administration to Clallam PUD users.
“He and the rest of commissioners just take it [and pass rate increases along], and say that there’s nothing we can do about it; I know that’s absolutely false,” Waddell said.
“If we can knock a percent or two off what Bonneville passes on, that is a big deal.”
Waddell said he and Simpson also differ on approaches to alternative power such as solar, and their opinions about the proposed removal of four Bonneville dams along the Snake River.
Simpson was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].