Endorsement — Daily World choses Chris Thomas for PUD Commission

The issues at the Grays Harbor PUD are complex and ever-changing, and the utility is losing one of its most learned and experienced leaders in longtime Commissioner Tom Casey. To keep the lights on and running efficiently, we need to carefully consider his replacement.

Applicable experience is a must, and a circumspect and thoughtful approach are key in considering Casey’s replacement on the PUD commission. Though both Arie Callaghan and Chris Thomas are respectable candidates, The Daily World feels ultimately Thomas is the one with the most tools for the job.

The PUD is heading for a shortage of cash, and both the economics of the area and the gyrations of the power market need to be considered, along with cuts to the utility’s operations as possible rate increases loom. It’s also about to choose a new general manager, in the wake of Rick Lovely’s retirement announcement. Alongside all of this, the infrastructure must be kept up-to-date, else the piper be paid when the next big storm hits.

The PUD would benefit from an adjustment period being as short as possible in the coming months to keep itself on track and running efficiently. To accomplish that, the new commissioner will need to be a quick study.

Thomas, a former Montesano councilman and economic analyst with the Employment Security Department, has dealt with complex budgets and even helped run a small utility while on the council. He also displays a refreshingly thoughtful approach when asked about the PUD budget, it’s relationship with the Bonneville Power Administration and the pending change in leadership at the PUD.

Callaghan, too, has studied the issues facing the district, and is certainly no slouch. The supervisor for Mason Trucking is a great guy with a solid, no-nonsense head on his shoulders, and could make a good commissioner. He’s wary of accruing much more debt, as are we. He favors looking at management if cuts need to be made. We couldn’t agree more. But, we’re talking about a $100 million-plus total budget with a lot of variables and vagaries, many of which are out of the PUD’s control — namely the price of power.

Albeit on a smaller scale, Thomas has been there, done that. Callaghan has not.

At this time of transition at the PUD, Thomas’ experience and wide-angle view of the economics of the area make him the better choice.

The Daily World’s Editorial Board includes Publisher Bill Crawford, Editor Doug Barker, Sports Editor Rick Anderson and City Editor Dan Jackson.