PUD commissioners name ‘short list’ for Haffner’s replacement

More than a dozen candidates to replace former Clallam County Public Utility District Commissioner Hugh Haffner took on questions in public session before the PUD’s remaining board commissioners.

Now, board President Ted Simpson and fellow commissioner Will Purser want a closer look.

Simpson and Purser agreed to a five-candidate “short list” on Aug. 20 out of a field of 14 candidates they interviewed in the past two weeks.

Candidates include David Anderson, Patricia Morris and Harold “Butch” Thayer of Port Angeles, and William M. Hannan and Ricky “Rick” Paschall of Sequim.

Simpson and Purser directed PUD staff to develop more questions for a second round of interviews that the commissioners will agree upon at a public meeting on Aug. 24 — the time for that meeting has yet to be finalized and Purser, who will be out of town, plans to participate via phone — before a second round of interviews will be conducted, also in a public meeting.

A decision will not likely be made any time before mid-September, Simpson said; commissioners have until Oct. 15 to choose a successor.

“We were fortunate to attract quality candidates with various levels of education, various levels of experience,” Purser said.

“Some had scientific backgrounds, some with different levels of community service and some who had held public office, which is a big deal to me,” Purser said.

The PUD commissioners completed their final round of interviews with the 14 initial candidates on Aug. 20, then met in executive session for about 40 minutes before announcing their “short list.”

Other candidates interviewed included Randall C. Brackett, Cameron K. Bruce, John W. “Jack” Smith and Marc J. Sullivan of Sequim, and Stanton Creasey, Robert P. Larsen, Michael McBride, Marty Michaelis and Donald G. Roth of Port Angeles.

Purser said the PUD commission plans to contact those on the “short list” to gauge their continued interested, and would add an alternate or alternates if one of those selected decided they were no longer interested.

Haffner, who served on the board for 24 years, resigned effective July 15 citing health concerns after suffering a stroke and while under investigation for a sexual harassment complaint that was dropped shortly after he announced his resignation.

The appointee would fill out the remainder of Haffner’s two-year unexpired term for the Port Angeles-Sequim-area District 2 position.

Candidates filled out one-page applications with information including their length of residency in Clallam County, their voter registration numbers and their interest, experience and expertise in the commissioner position.

They also were asked to describe the role of a PUD commissioner.

Commissioners hire the general manager, treasurer and auditor. They approved an annual budget that for 2018 is $67 million for electric operations, $7 million for water operations and $58,500 for sewer operations. It includes $20 million in reserves and three-year rate increases that began this year.

PUD commissioners are paid a $2,567 monthly salary, or $30,804 annually. They also receive $128 daily per diem for meetings and other PUD-related business for a maximum annual salary and per diem amount of $48,724, and 75 cents a mile for official business.

Haffner was appointed to a two-year term in 1994. He ran unopposed in 1996, defeated Bill Roberds in 2002, defeated Bob Jensen in 2008 and was unopposed in 2014.

Paul Gottlieb, a Senior Staff Writer with the Peninsula Daily News, contributed to this report.