At their regular meeting on Dec. 6, the Pacific County PUD #2 Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution appointing Chief of Engineering and Operations Jason Dunsmoor to the PUD's general manager position. Dunsmoor will replace the retiring Doug Miller, who has helmed PUD #2 since 1994.
District #1 Commissioner Mike Swanson voted in favor of the appointment but expressed concerns about how the process had taken place, indicating we would have preferred to wait until incoming Commissioner Dick Anderson is seated before making the decision. Anderson defeated Mike Lignoski in the November election in a race for the position being vacated by long-time District #3 Commissioner Ron Hatfield, who opted not to run again.
Swanson said he is comfortable with the appointment of Dunsmoor but wanted the public to know what his thoughts were on the matter and to see the information entered into the board's official record. He then read aloud from an email he indicated he had sent to current General Manager Doug Miller on or around Nov. 6.
"I'd like to share my thoughts on the public perception of appointing Jason Dunsmoor as the new general manager," Swanson read aloud. "No matter who is elected to Ron's District 3 position, it will be the first time in 28 years that the voters, ratepayers, and owners of Pacific County PUD #2 have had someone different representing that district. Elections matter, and I believe that the voters feel that this position matters. The new commissioner will be one of Jason's bosses and should be involved in the selection of a new general manager. I don't feel that appointing Jason to a position before the new commissioner is sworn in is fair to the ratepayers or to Jason."
Commissioner Hatfield responded by saying that while he respects Swanson's view, he feels he was elected in order to make decisions up until his time in office has expired at the end of December and intended to carry through with what he perceived to be his responsibility by voting on the Dunsmoor appointment.
District #2 Commissioner Diana Thompson noted that the conversation surrounding the appointment of Dunsmoor, as a personnel issue, had taken place in executive session. She therefore attempted to convey what the commissioners' thought process had been in selecting Dunsmoor for the benefit of those in attendance at the meeting.
"As commissioners, we are aware of how things have gone in a number of different PUDs in this state and have been well aware of how difficult it can be to find general managers ... to come live in a rural community and stay there. We didn't want to put ourselves in the position of going hunting and finding someone who had maybe the education but no experience, bring them in and essentially train them, and then have them leave and have them go someplace where they can make a lot more money and maybe live in a big city or something," she stated.
"Jason has lived in this community for a long time," Thompson continued. "He's got the education and experience we need. It means we don't have to go hire a headhunter, and that's a very expensive thing. And we've watched as some other PUDs have had people come up through the ranks, where they spent the time to learn about the community, learn about how that particular PUD system works, and they've stuck around."
Thompson went on to say that while all the commissioners have had various concerns during the selection process, she now believes the concerns have been resolved.
"I think this is probably the best decision for the PUD," she said of the appointment of Dunsmoor.
Also at the Dec. 6 meeting, Swanson and Thompson voted to allow Hatfield to retain his medical and life insurance benefits, as allowed under the commissioners' compensation policy, before presenting him with a plaque in honor of his 28 years of service as a commissioner.