Six candidates have entered the race for three open seats on Empire Electric Association Inc.’s board of directors.
Ballots will be sent to cooperative members in May for candidates running for a two-year term in District 2 and four-year terms in District 5 and 6. The election will be held June 20.
District 2 is vacant. Candidates Robert Barry and Carolyn Dunmire are competing for the seat. In District 5, incumbent Kent Lindsay will face off against Eric Lindgren, and in District 6, incumbent David Sitton is being challenged by Greg Barker.
Board members help manage the electric cooperative that provides service to Montezuma and Dolores counties and part of southeast Utah.
They review and approve policies and analyze projects and rates during monthly meetings. Board members receive a base pay of $1,000 per month, plus $150 for attending additional meetings.
“The board really governs the cooperative,” said Empire Electric Executive Secretary Shawna McLaughlin.
Ballots will be sent to cooperative members, which includes everyone who has electric service in their name. Members can vote for candidates in all districts.
Mailed-in ballots must arrive by June 14, or they can be hand-delivered to the annual meeting at Empire’s main office, 801 N. Broadway, on June 20 between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The votes are tallied at the meeting and results reported.
There will be a candidates forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 15 at the Sunflower Theatre. Audience members will have the opportunity to meet the candidates and ask questions. Appetizers will be served, and there will be a cash bar.
Bios were submitted by each candidate. The bios have been edited for style and length.
District 2 represents the area around Dove Creek, Pleasant View, Cahone and Monticello. District 5 represents the area of Towaoc and part of Cortez. District 6 represents the southeast area including Mancos.
District 2: Robert “Bob” Barry vs. Carolyn Dunmire
ROBERT “BOB” BARRY: Barry was raised on a farm at Eastland, a rural farming community southeast of Monticello, Utah. He attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse and bused to Monticello where he graduated from high school.
Bob went to Southern Utah State College at Cedar City, Utah, before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam with an engineering and mapping company and is a lifetime member of the Troy Young VFW Post No. 5181 in Dove Creek.
Bob and Elaine Randolph have been married for 49 years and have two children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. He worked for an aerial mapping company in Grand Junction before starting a furniture manufacturing company and retail store. In 1983, Barry moved his family back to Monticello to take over the family farm.
In 1986, he was elected to the San Juan Soil Conservation Board and served as chairman for 30 years. Barry has served on the County FSA Board for nine years, the Governor’s Utah Conservation Commission for 20 years and the Ag Advisory Board for six years.
He was elected into leadership roles as vice president and president of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts and for the past eight years has represented Utah on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Conservation Districts.
He is currently the chairman of the Southwest Region which includes Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. Barry enjoys representing and serving his community.
CAROLYN DUNMIRE: After 30 years as a professional in the energy industry, I am ready to serve EEA members by adding diversity and expertise to the Board of Directors. With an engineering degree from University of Colorado and a master’s degree in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University, I have worked to keep electricity rates low for utilities across the U.S. while minimizing impacts to the environment. As an intern at the Electric Power Research Institute, I developed a computer model to identify the lowest-cost resource plan for utilities complying with new air emissions regulations.
With EEA facing important decisions on future energy supply and investment in renewable power, I can inform the discussion by asking hard questions of Tri-State and other potential power suppliers as well as evaluate how future electric supply alternatives will affect the environment, local economic growth and our monthly bills.
I am a trusted and proven community leader with a strong record supporting local economic development. I led the board of directors for the local public radio station during a critical growth period. I have applied my experience as a small business owner to counsel others through the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center and the Dolores County Development Corp. I was the project manager for the county permitting effort for Kinder Morgan’s expansion in Dolores and Montezuma counties including the Doe Canyon Helium Plant. I’ve lived in Cahone for 23 years, where my husband, Glenn, and I designed and built our solar home.
District 5: Eric Lindgren vs. Kent Lindsay
ERIC LINDGREN: For 29 years, I have been a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories working in the energy sector and telecommuting from Cortez half-time. I know how coal and nuclear power plants work and the associated environmental, health and safety issues. I have developed several successful multimillion dollar technical projects, managed funding, assembled and managed multi-disciplinary teams, and designed and implemented solutions to complex challenges that often required negotiating complicated purchase agreements. In the changing and increasingly uncertain world of today’s energy, I have the background to implement modern technologies that make sense for the membership and better ensure clean, reliable and lower-cost energy resources in the future.
The core mission of Empire Electric is to provide reliable, affordable electrical service. Promoting and implementing renewable energy sources will be of growing importance as the costs of renewable energy and storage technologies continue to drop significantly. As a research engineer, I excel at problem solving and finding optimal solutions to these types of complex issues.
Locally, as president, I guided our irrigation ditch through pending state abandonment to an incorporated pipeline company with a 4-mile, state-of-the-art, NRCS-funded, pressurized pipeline. The key was reducing costs over 50% from initial NRCS estimates. The key to my success has often been devising ways to meet technical requirements at reduced cost. I do it for Sandia, did it for the ditch, I can do it for the EEA membership. My knowledge and unique skill set will provide a needed professional and technical perspective to the EEA Board.
KENT LINDSAY: I was born and raised in Cortez. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School, I attended Colorado State University and majored in Electrical Engineering. I married Sharon King and we bought the El Grande Café from her parents in 1980 and have been in business since then. We have two boys and five grandchildren. I have been an exalted ruler of the local Elks Lodge, a little league coach, and was elected to the Montezuma County Commission in 1996 and served for eight years. I was a volunteer firefighter for 19 years of which I was chief for three of those years.
I am currently a board member of Empire Electric and running for re-election to serve another four-year term. I currently serve on two committees: the scholarship committee, which along with other board members, we award scholarships to our area schools and award educational trips to our summer youth camp; and the building committee, which oversees the purchase and sale of our facilities.
In my role as board member, my primary concerns are rates and the pressure outside influences have on those rates. Wherever we can find sources to help keep rates down and return capital credit to our members, I am always willing to explore those possibilities.
To borrow a phrase from a speaker at our last annual meeting: “I am not pro coal, gas, solar or hydro, I am pro cheap.”
District 6: Greg Barker vs. David Sitton
GREG BARKER: I’m running for the Empire Electric Association board to serve an institution that is a backbone of our community. My grandfather was an EEA member, and I hope to use my professional electric utility expertise to ensure EEA can continue to provide the reliable and affordable service we enjoy. I’m inspired by the excellent employees at EEA and will use my own 13 years of board experience to continue EEA’s strong tradition.
After graduating from Stanford in Electrical Engineering and earning my Professional Electrical Engineer’s license, I have worked for electric utilities around the country for more than 15 years. Through this work, I have developed extensive expertise navigating the various demands, constraints and opportunities that electric utilities face. I’ve also learned the industry is evolving faster than ever.
Electric utilities today are on the cusp of big changes: contracts are available at lower prices, and lawmakers and regulators are considering new approaches to low-cost, reliable service. These shifts will require EEA leadership to make critical decisions in the coming years to ensure affordability. To strategically navigate this new landscape and best serve EEA members, we will need extensive and broad electrical utility experience to ensure our affordable and reliable service continues.
If elected to the Board of Directors, I will contribute my knowledge and expertise in the electricity industry as EEA plans for its future. I will support EEA’s tradition of affordability, reliability and service so that my son can enjoy the same outstanding cooperative that my grandfather did.
DAVID SITTON: I was born and raised in Cortez. I grew up working with my dad raising potatoes, alfalfa, hogs and cattle. He was also a local contractor and I worked for him building homes and pouring concrete.
After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 1978, I went into the U.S. Army. After the Army, I attend college in Phoenix earning a Computer Science degree.
I’ve held positions with: Sitton Construction, City Market, Ute Mountain Tribe in the Finance department, and Empire Electric as the data processing manager. I oversaw IT, the billing department and collections, while working at EEA for five years. I was elected to the EEA board in 1996.
In 1994, I took a position at Nielsons, Inc., as the IT Manager. Skanska acquired Nielsons in 1997 and my IT role shifted from managing local IT and project support to a national role of implementing financial and cost control systems. Along the way, I became vice president of administration. I participated with teams of senior management to develop and standardize Skanska processes across all U.S. civil companies as well as source solutions for the group of companies and then assisted in the implementation of those solutions across the business. I worked for Nielsons/Skanska for 23 years.
In 2016, we purchased Aspen Wall Wood in Dolores. In 2017, we purchased Dewayne Findley Logging and the Western Excelsior assets in Mancos and rebuilt the excelsior plant.
I’ve been married to Pam for 36 years. We have seven children and several grandchildren.