Two incumbents, two challengers on co-op ballot

By Ann McCreary

Four people, including two incumbents, are candidates for three at-large seats on the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) board of directors.

Members of OCEC can mail their ballots, bring them to the OCEC office, or submit their ballots at the OCEC annual meeting on April 17 at the Barn in Winthrop. Registration begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Ballots must be returned by the close of business on April 18. The three candidates receiving the most votes will join the board.

The candidates are:

Chuck Armstrong

•William (Chuck) Armstrong, Winthrop. Armstrong said he would bring experience in governing, management and finance to the OCEC board.

“I have years of experience in chairing and serving on a board. I understand the issues of organization governance and how to focus on problem solving for all stakeholders,” Armstrong said.

“I think the most pressing issue [facing OCEC] is continuing to provide improving reliability in energy distribution at the most affordable price. OCEC is not large but has a huge impact on our valley,” he said.

Armstrong was a commercial banker for 25 years, including chairman and CEO of Bank of America Oregon. He served for several years on the board of directors of Pacific Corp., a large investor-owned electric utility, according to information from OCEC.

He has completed 31 years of service in the U.S. Navy, mostly in the Reserves, and is currently treasurer of the Edelweiss Homeowners Association.

Sara Carlberg

•Sara Carlberg, Winthrop. Carlberg said she has range of management and executive experience that would be valuable as an OCEC board member.

“The asset I bring to the co-op is my analytical and customer-oriented business background,” Carlberg said.

“The most important issue facing the co-op is the balance between the financial health of the co-op and equitable rates for the members,” she said.

Her career includes working for Chevron as a research chemist, financial analyst, energy trader and marketing operations/trading manager.

She also worked as vice president of sales and marketing for Kinetic Technology International and with Weyerhaeuser as a market development manager, strategic planning manager, project director, and director of business planning and development for the pulp business.

She is a steering committee member and a founding member of Methow At Home, and is a volunteer for Methow At Home and Frontier Hospice.

Ray Peterson

•Ray Peterson, Winthrop. Peterson has been an OCEC board member for four years and serves on the finance and audit committees.

Peterson said he wants to continue on the OCEC board, where he provides “data analysis skills and experiences in serving on the OCEC board finance committee for the last five years, helping develop and implement fair and equitable electric rates and … monthly tracking and oversight of OCEC finances.”

The most pressing issue facing OCEC, Peterson said, is “keeping our 2018-2019 electrical rates as low a possible, considering the BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) cost of power increases along with the analysis of future power purchase alternatives.”

Peterson said he has years of experience developing data analysis tools, mathematical modeling, Internet web applications and business accounting. He is a former environmental scientist for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Dale Sekijima

•Dale Sekijima, Winthrop. Sekijima has been an OCEC board member since 2011, and serves as board treasurer.

“Having spent six years on the board, I’ve been able to absorb the issues involved in formulating the co-op’s cost of service, rate structure and budgets,” Sekijima said.

 “In addition, I’ve focused on developing a good understanding of the wholesale power market. I think that experience and understanding will help make sound strategic decisions on sourcing wholesale power and maintaining equitable rates for the co-op’s members,” he said. 

An impending decision regarding purchase of wholesale power is the biggest issue facing OCEC, Sekijima said.

“The co-op must make a long-term commitment for wholesale power purchase in the next few years. That choice will affect the co-op’s rates for 20-30 years,” he said.

Sekijima has worked as a product manager of consumer electronic funds transfer services for a large financial institution, and as CEO for a high-tech computer software and hardware firm.