PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Public Utility District Commissioner Jim Waddell has died of pancreatic cancer.
The Port Angeles resident, who also founded DamSense which lobbied for the breaching of the Snake River dams, died Monday, according to a press release from the Clallam PUD.
He was 70.
He had represented the Clallam PUD’s District 3, which runs from East Port Angeles to the West End, since 2019 after defeating longtime commissioner Ted Simpson in the 2018 election. He also had served as board president in 2023 and 2024.
No information on memorial services was available Wednesday morning, said Nicole Hartman, Clallam PUD spokeswoman.
Waddell was remembered fondly by the people he worked with at the PUD.
“We are saddened by this sudden news and our thoughts are with Jim’s loved ones during this difficult time.” said Sean Worthington, PUD general manager.
“Jim cared deeply about being responsive to the needs of all our customers and was so thoughtful in his approach to all matters of the PUD. I will personally miss our conversations and am thankful I had the opportunity to learn from him.”
Said Commissioner Ken Hays: “Jim was a fine leader, thorough, thoughtful, and fair in all that he said and did. He was a remarkable person, with many talents, skills, and interests.
“He freely gave his time, always willing to share his knowledge and expertise, and patient explaining complex topics. His generosity and compassion I will miss a great deal.”
Said Commissioner John Purvis: “Jim was compassionate and dedicated to building a better future throughout his very distinguished career in public service.”
Waddell was a civil engineer who worked for 35 years for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, focusing largely on developing sustainable development policies and practices. He also served an officer in the Army National Guard, serving in engineering, signal, and transportation units.
Waddell served with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation before becoming the senior policy analyst for the environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He focused largely on climate change policy, budgets, and research integration.
He said he was the first in the federal government to identify and integrate all the global warming research programs, allowing scientific information to better inform national and international policies.
Waddell announced at an October 2022 PUD meeting that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that he was undergoing intensive chemotherapy for five weeks. He had been diagnosed eight weeks prior to that after dealing with severe abdominal pain for up to eight months.
Waddell was known for supporting removal of the four hydroelectric Snake River dams on the lower reaches of the Columbia’s largest tributary.
He was the lone vote at a March 2021 Clallam PUD meeting against a resolution in support of keeping the dams and was founder and board chair of DamSense (www.damsense.org), serving with the late Ken Balcomb who founded the Center for Whale Research.
Hartman said the two other commissioners will have 90 days to fill the position. They will release a notice of vacancy seeking nominations for 15 days. The appointed person will serve until certification of the 2024 election results, she said. Applicants must be a resident of District 3, which runs roughly from Monroe Road in East Port Angeles to the West End.
Prospective candidates may file for the office during candidate filing week in May, Hartman said. The winning candidate would serve from certification of the election results until the end of the year and then serve the usual six-year term.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.