PORT ANGELES — Lawyer and 24-year incumbent Hugh Haffner will resign his Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner position in July, two years before his term ends and six weeks after the candidate filing period for the Nov. 6 general election.
“I’m just getting tired of it,” Haffner, 71, of Port Angeles said Thursday.
“It’s time to get out of it and not have to deal with it anymore.”
Haffner said his likely retirement date is July 1, although board President Ted Simpson said in a separate interview that he thought the date was July 15.
Either way, it means Haffner will quit after the May 14-18 filing period for the Nov. 6 general election.
That means West End-District 3 Commissioner Simpson and Sequim-area PUD commissioner Will Purser will choose a replacement to fill out the remaining two years of Haffner’s six-term.
The position will be up for countywide election in November 2020.
The PUD commissioner’s departure also makes Simpson, whose own term ends this year, more inclined to run for re-election in November to provide continuity to the board, Simpson said.
Purser did not return calls for comment.
Haffner said he is still affected by neck and back injuries he suffered in a 2013 car crash and cannot drive.
He said he wants to keep, through June, the health insurance he receives as a PUD commissioner that covers him and his wife, Diane.
“I had a couple of doctor’s appointments in June,” Haffner said. “I figured I’d better get those done in June, then be gone in July.”
Simpson said Haffner is resigning following board discussions with a PUD lawyer in executive session about issues involving Haffner’s resignation. He would not be more specific.
A lawyer was used for the resignation of a board member “so that it was done legally,” Simpson said.
“For whatever reason, he wants to leave or feels like he needs to leave; that’s his decision.”
A detailed account of Haffner’s resignation “doesn’t need to be in the newspaper,” Simpson said.
Simpson said it was Haffner’s “sole decision” and that he and Purser did not ask him to quit.
Simpson said that “to the best of my knowledge, there were no written, formal complaints” about Haffner.
Haffner said there were no complaints against him.
Haffner “is just not doing well physically, mentally,” Simpson said.
“He is doing the right thing by resigning.”
Simpson, 76 in October, is up for election to a six-year term in November.
Simpson was first elected in 1985, when he was 43.
“Part of my indecision has been that I know some really, really wonderful [PUD] commissioners from around the state that stayed too long, and they just don’t do a good job,” Simpson said.
“Everybody should realize, recognize, when they should retire, that they are no longer a benefit or a plus to their utility.
“I personally don’t want to be in that position some day.”
Simpson said he doesn’t think he should run for re-election.
“This situation puts a little bit different spin on it,” he added.
“It would be nice to have a little bit more overlap and not have two new commissioners.”
He said commissioners will advertise for the open position once Haffner resigns.
PUD commissioner are paid a monthly salary of $2,285, or $27,420 a year.
They also receive a per diem payment of $114 for PUD meetings and attendance at PUD-related events to a maximum of $15,960, putting total maximum compensation at $43,380.
Commissioners also receive 75 cents per mile compensation for use of a personal vehicle for PUD-related business compared to the IRS rate of 54.5 cents per mile.
Haffner was appointed to a two-year term in 1994. He ran unopposed in 1996, defeated Bill Roberds 63 percent-37 percent in 2002, defeated Bob Jensen 54 percent-46 percent in 2008 and was unopposed in 2014.
The PUD has 125 employees, 30,000 electric utility customers including 4,500 water customers, and 100 sewer customers, Simpson said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].