North Tahoe PUD switching to at-large elections for first time since 1948 | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe PUD switching to at-large elections for first time since 1948

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Effective for the November 2016 election, the North Tahoe Public Utility District is changing the way its board members are selected.

In a 5-0 vote last week, the NTPUD board of directors approved changing the district’s election method for directors from a by-seat to an at-large model after collecting public input on the matter.

Since the PUD’s formation in 1948, board candidates have run for a seat number (1 through 5), with the top vote-getter for each seat winning it.

The district’s five seats don’t represent geographical areas.

With this change, candidates will run for all available board seats, with the top vote-getters winning.

“We think this will be a better way to go,” said Duane Whitelaw, district interim general manager/CEO. “ … The most prevalent (argument is) it takes the personal nature out of running for office.”

Of 132 survey responses the PUD received on the matter, 116 (88 percent) were in favor of the at-large model, with 16 (12 percent) against.

Yet, since only a small percentage of eligible district voters took the survey, the board decided to place a question on the November 2016 ballot, asking voters if they want to make the switch permanent.

If a majority votes against, then the election method will revert back to the by-seat model for the 2018 election.

According to the NTPUD, there is no additional cost in running at-large elections.

For the upcoming election, three NTPUD board seats will be open — one held by president John Bergmann, and the others by directors Phil Thompson and Tim Ferrell.

Directors serve staggered four-year terms.

Neighboring Tahoe City Public Utility District made the same election method change in 2014.