Three seek District 1 nod in PEC election

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor, The Highlander

Three candidates with a vast range of experience in the public and private sector are seeking the District 1 seat on the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors this year.

Voting in the election begins Thursday, May 24, and runs through June 15. Members may vote online, by mail or online via SmartHub. Members can also vote online through an iPad device at PEC’s Canyon Lake, Junction, Kyle, Liberty Hill and Marble Falls offices, plus PEC’s headquarters.

Incumbent District 1 Director Christi Clement did not seek re-election this year. Candidates to succeed her for the next three-year term include Donna Holland Wilcox of Marble Falls, Milton Rister of Georgetown and Frank Haskell of Liberty Hill.

Members may only vote for directors who represent their geographic district. Burnet County is located in District 1, so Burnet County members may only vote in the District 1 race.

Elections are also being held in District 6 and District 7. In District 6, incumbent Paul Graf will face a challenge from Andrew W. Cable, while in District 7, incumbent Amy Lea SJ Akers faces a challenge from Travis Cox.

There will be a Meet Your Candidates night for the three District 1 candidates at 5:30 p.m. May 29 at the Liberty Hill PEC office, 10625 Texas 29. Similar events will be held in District 6 at the Canyon Lake office and in District 7 at the Kyle office.

This year, the cooperative is offering incentives for early voting. Members who vote by June 15 will be entered in a random drawing for $150 bill credits. Members may also choose to vote in person at PEC’s annual meeting, to be held June 23 at Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch. Election results will be announced before the conclusion of that meeting.

Wilcox

Wilcox, the president of Holland-Wilcox Enterprises, described herself as “a sixth-generation Burnet County resident, businesswoman and community leader” with deep ties to District 1 as well as more than 25 years experience in both the public and private sectors, with a primary focus on “industry entrepreneurship.”

Over the years, I have served and led a wide range of domestic and international organizations having exceptional leadership and governance,” she said. “As president of Holland Wilcox Enterprises, I work with visionary leaders to plan, implement and succeed at their organization's goals and objectives, and PEC is no different.”

Wilcox said her mission as a PEC director would be “reducing electricity rates; enhancing customer service for commercial, farm and ranch and residential; and streamlining governance while increasing transparency through the review of current bylaws and policies.”

She noted that PEC currently has more than 300,000 active accounts and more than 1 million people served “in some of the fastest-growing counties in the nation.” The co-op boasts $1.5 billion in total assets, $590 million in 2017 revenues alone and “more than 700 loyal employees and the best linemen in the country.”

Our co-op, the largest in the nation, has a lot at stake,” Wilcox said. “Key decisions will be made by your board of directors over the next years to manage and sustain this growth — decisions that will have long and lasting impact on PEC.

As a board member, I will apply a trustworthy, common-sense and practical approach at governing and managing PEC while ensuring you, the customer, continue to see low rates and excellent customer service. I will work staunchly on your behalf. I ask for your trust and your vote in this important election to become your next PEC District 1 director.”

Rister

A Georgetown resident who was raised on a farm in Williamson County, Rister is a former executive director of the Texas Railroad Commission from 2012 to 2015 under former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Rister said he is running for the PEC board “because I want to make sure our monthly bills are as low as possible.”

I have over 30 years of executive level management and leadership experience in both the public and private sector,” Rister said. “I am a detail-oriented person who knows how to ask tough questions and require straightforward answers.”

As executive director of the Railroad Commission, Rister said he directed operations of a statewide agency which had 11 district offices.

It was my job to provide leadership to over 800 full-time employees,” Rister said. “I managed a $170 million dollar budget and led efforts to develop and negotiate rules and policies to ensure the safe and reliable production of energy in Texas. I believe my experience in leading large organizations in managing multimillion-dollar budgets have prepared me to be an effective member and to represent you on the Pedernales Electric Co-op Board of Directors.

Because I am retired, I'm especially concerned about how PEC rates and fees affect those of us living on fixed incomes. I will be a full-time director and my focus will be on making sure our electric bills that we pay every month are as low as possible. I will be tenacious in my efforts to reduce the $22.50 service availability feed that we all pay every month and I will work aggressively to cut unnecessary administrative expenditures that negatively impact our monthly bills.”

Haskell

A resident of Liberty Hill for the past 19 years, Haskell has more than 25 years of working in public utilities, especially in the water, wastewater and oil and gas industries.

I have worked in a lot of capital improvement projects and I have seen them go from very, very good to very, very bad,” Haskell said. “The reason that's important is we're rapidly growing and it is important to have somebody who understands capital improvement projects and the amount of debt that that we take on.

If they are run correctly, we can reduce our debt, we can reduce our costs and reduce our bills to our customers. As member-owners, you own this utility. It's your utility. My slogan is 'Power for the People' because without the people, there is no reason for the power anyway.”

Haskell said he likes that PEC is heavily involved in charity, which is something he greatly supports.

I went out on Hurricane Harvey relief this last August and (the hurricane) was definitely a bad disaster for Texas,” Haskell said. “I helped fuel rescue boats and helped people in Beaumont with tarping their roofs and getting back on their feet. I plan to go back out there with Austin Disaster Relief Ministries again to help with the re-building effort. We've done rescue and recovery and now it is time to rebuild.

I am going to take that same tenacity over to the PEC board if I'm elected. I'll just take that same energy and enthusiasm to do that.”

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