STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
JOHNSON CITY — For the first time, Pedernales Electric Cooperative will allow members to select candidates for Districts 2 and 3 using the single-member district method for the upcoming 2017 election.
That means instead of all members across the cooperative voting to fill two seats, only members residing in those districts will cast ballots.
Early and online voting begins May 18 and continues through June 9.
Two candidates — incumbent Emily Pataki and challenger William D. “Bill” Boggs — are vying for the District 2 seat, which primarily encompasses the Leander area in Williamson County as well as a portion of Cedar Park.
The four candidates running for the District 3 position are Eric Stratton, Randy R. Klaus, Mathew S. Weldon, and Judy Lawler Pokorny.
District 3 includes a portion of Cedar Park on the east and west sides of U.S. 183 as well as the Lake Creek area.
District 3 incumbent Kathy Scanlon chose not to run for re-election.
For this election, candidates focused their campaign strategy within the boundaries of their district but also shared details about themselves online through biographies, questionnaires, and social media campaigns.
The following includes background and message highlights from the candidates:
• Pataki of Cedar Park was elected to the PEC board in 2014. She is the current board president and has served as vice president in the past.
“I recognize that every dollar at PEC comes from our member-owners. These funds should be safeguarded, conserved, and, ultimately, returned,” Pataki stated in her PEC biography. “Board members should abide by our fiduciary duties and deliver low-cost, safe, and reliable electricity to co-op members.”
Pataki currently serves as the legislative chair of the Williamson County Republican Women.
In 2014, officials named her the Texas Federation of Republican Women honoree for her work on behalf of women in the state of Texas.
In 2011, Pataki served as a citizen representative on the Cedar Park Website Redevelopment Board.
READ MORE ABOUT PATAKI HERE
• Boggs of Leander served on the PEC board from 2011-14.
His experience includes working for Central Power and Light Co., based in Corpus Christi, for 10 years.
His duties included reading meters and quality control in customer billing.
“You have to prepare to get the facts across to other directors,” he stated in his PEC candidate questionnaire. “As in any group, you have to work with people and come together for the good of the cooperative.”
His work experience also includes more than 30 years working for and then retiring from LyondellBasell, a petrochemical company.
Boggs has been a member of the Medina Valley Cooperative and the Nueces Electric Cooperative.
Among his experiences, he completed 27 education classes with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
READ MORE ABOUT BOGGS HERE
• Stratton of Austin has worked for five years for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, “teaching best practices to electric utility boards of directors and educating member-owners on effective communication with elected officials,” according to his biography.
He has assisted in the design and management of multimillion-dollar client services projects for the state.
Stratton has also served as vice president of the Avery Ranch Owners Association.
In the area of economic development, he has served as the District 6 commissioner on the Austin Economic Prosperity Commission.
“The key to returning the cooperative to a business focused on keeping the lights on, rates low, and customer service excellent is getting politics out of the boardroom,” he stated. “The best way to do this is to spend more time listening to each other as board members, building personal relationships outside of the boardroom, and taking the issues seriously, but not ourselves.”
READ MORE ABOUT STRATTON HERE
• Klaus of Austin is a licensed certified public accountant with more than 35 years of “experience in the electric, telecommunications, and water utility industries as an expert witness on utility matters,” according to his biography.
He was previously employed by MCI Communications.
As an expert witness, he testified on behalf of the Public Utility Commission in the Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. rate case after the court-ordered breakup of the Bell Operating System.
“As a participant in the open and transparent processes practiced by the PUC for decades, I would pursue a similar deliberative approach to arrive at the most efficient and effective outcome for the benefit of members,” he stated.
Klaus is the past president of the board of directors of North Central Austin Growth Corridor Municipal Utility District No. 1.
READ MORE ABOUT KLAUS HERE
• Weldon of Austin works as the industrial project coordinator for an engineering research center at the University of Texas “whose mission is to develop new scalable processes, materials, and tooling for nano-electronic and nanophotonic device manufacture,” according to his biography.
Among his experience, he served in the Peace Corps in Honduras, where he installed gravity-fed potable water systems.
Weldon started his career in semiconductor manufacturing, which involved process engineering, technical management, and development and service support duties.
“I would enjoy participating more directly in this change and growth as I am quite optimistic it will prove to be rewarding,” Weldon said. “I like the cooperative service model, and the PEC will continue to deliver traditional benefits and enjoy opportunity to expand delivered volume and provide new benefits to its members and the system at large within the (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) competitive market.”
READ MORE ABOUT WELDON HERE
• Pokorny of Cedar Park has more than 30 years’ experience in state government, where she had an opportunity to serve in leadership roles.
According to her biography, she managed a staff of auditors, “assisted in the development of proposed legislation, and played an instrumental role in the development, design, and implementation of the Texas Uniform Statewide Accounting System.”
She is in her sixth year on the Williamson County Central Appraisal District. She also serves as treasurer for her neighborhood association and has participated in the association for 20 years.
“One of my top priorities as a board member would be advocating for the protection of the environment while ensuring safe, reliable, and affordable power to all our members,” Pokorny said. “Second, I fully support using emerging technologies to the benefit of our members to ensure lower energy costs for everyone.”
READ MORE ABOUT POKORNY HERE
Co-op members can not only vote online from their own computers, they can also do so from kiosks at PEC offices.
After early voting has concluded, co-op member have a final opportunity to vote at the annual membership meeting.
The meeting is scheduled for June 17 at the Don Tew Performing Arts Center, 3301 S. Bagdad Road in Leander.
PEC officials have asked members who are not sure in which district they vote to contact them at 1-888-554-4732.