Former Sequim mayor to challenge for PUD commissier seat

Former Sequim mayor Ken Hays is challenging incumbent Will Purser for the District 1 seat on the Clallam County Public Utility District commission.

Hays registered with the state Public Disclosure Commission on April 21 which allows him to begin raising campaign funds.

Purser, who has held the seat since he was appointed in 2001 and then was elected in 2002, filed with the PDC on May 2.

Candidate filing week for the Nov. 8 general election is May 16-20.

A top-two primary is set for Aug. 2. If three or more file for a position, then the primary will eliminate one before the general election.

‘Do more to avoid rate hikes’

“I’m running for commissioner because more needs to be done to bring the PUD into the 21st century and do more to avoid rate hikes,” Hays said in an announcement in early May.

In addition, he said, the PUD “must do more with county authorities to give us countywide broadband for high-speed internet — this should have been installed a decade ago.”

He advocated re-negotiating the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) post-2028 contract “to include pathways for new power demands for businesses bringing jobs and revenue to the county.

“I will find ways to say yes to economic development that helps control costs to our ratepayers and brings prosperity to the county,” he said in the release.

Hays charged that the PUD “pays lip service to renewable energy, allowing good projects to flounder when they would help control ratepayers’ rising costs.

“I will support and seek out every opportunity to diversify our energy portfolio to meet mandated requirements and to provide cheaper sources of energy for ratepayers,” he said.

He added he would lead the PUD in “maximum conservation measures for every household and business that want to save on their energy bills.”

Hays vowed to ensure that all stakeholders are included in strategic planning.

“It’s time the PUD listens to its ratepayers and finds ways to say yes to high-speed internet, new economic and energy opportunities and creative ways to control utility rates,” Hays said.

Hays also said he supports electrification of transportation, especially super-charging of medium and heavy-duty trucks.

His public service includes two terms on the Sequim City Council, from 2009-2016. He resigned from the seat during his third term.

He served as mayor from 2010-2014, a term during which, Hays noted, “we completed the downtown sub-area plan, acquired the city’s first bond rating, and built the new city hall and police station.”

Hays is a longtime PUD customer who has, since 1977, lived in Sequim, where he and wife, Joanna, raised a son. He has owned an architecture practice in Sequim since 1988. He said he has designed such local structures as the James Center for Performing Arts in Sequim’s Carrie Blake Park, The Lodge at Sherwood Village in Sequim, the Skills Center at Lincoln School in Port Angeles and the Multi-Modal Transportation Center in Forks.

“My professional experience is extensive and includes budget development, project development, construction and facilities management,” he said.

Purser announces re-election bid

Purser said he is seeking re-election in a press statement sent May 9.

“I am running for re-election to ensure PUD customers continue to receive affordable and reliable power in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said in the statement.

Purser said his tenure has been marked with “a positive trajectory of improvement with numerous nationally recognized awards, including three consecutive APPA Reliable Public Power awards as well as designation as a smart energy provider.”

Purser also pointed to the PUD’s implementation of a “forward looking strategic plan and infrastructure improvement plan” that has “rebuilt and modernized 19 of 21 substations and resulted in the implemented integrated information systems, including advanced outage management and the deployment of a smart grid that is necessary to meet many future challenges.”

The PUD has faced some challenges in recent years, Purser noted, including the removal of carbon from the power supply as well as electrification of the transportation sector and reducing the energy burden or cost to low income customers.

“The PUD has also established a robust program in support of customer owned net meter solar, wind and hydro that currently includes more than 400 interconnections providing a zero carbon supply locally,” Purser said. “Through these efforts PUD is one of a very few national electric utilities to have already achieved a carbon neutral power supply, as well as the state mandate to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”

A key short-term challenge for the PUD board of commissioners, Purser said is “to ensure the PUD’s success” when entering a 2028 contract with BPA to ensure a continued supply of low cost zero carbon power supply.”

Purser noted in his statement, “The PUD and its governing board is working and collaborating with almost 130 other public power utilities through various associations to ensure a contract in the best interest of ratepayers.”

Purser is chairman of the Governance Board of Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency of more than 25 PUDs. He previously served on the Public Power Council executive committee and the Washington PUD Association Energy committee.

“The electric industry is currently undergoing a rapid transformation and needs knowledgeable and experienced governance to successfully navigate the many challenges and ensure the PUD continues to provide affordable and reliable power in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said.

His website is at