3 Yampa Valley Electric Association board seats up for grabs

Members can vote until June 17 or at June 18 meeting

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Mike Brinks

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Larry Ellgen

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Thomas Fox

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Bill Haight

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Marilynn Hill

— In his ninth election as a member of the Yampa Valley Electric Association Board of Directors, one might think Bill Haight is used to being challenged.

Haight, the representative for District 6, which covers Steamboat Springs and northern Routt County, has served on the cooperative’s board for nearly 25 years. But he still doesn’t think it’s easy being the incumbent.

“I always worry about the challenge,” Haight said. “When you talk about politics, it’s pretty easy to realize there could be a defeat every time.”

This year Haight faces Thomas Fox, owner of Fox Construction and a longtime Steamboat Springs resident. Fox touts his sustainable business practices as evidence of his commitment to a push for increased alternative energy options.

YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell said three seats are up for election on the nine-member board each year. This year’s trio, two of which feature contested races, will be decided at the YVEA Board of Directors annual meeting June 18 in the Hayden High School auditorium.

The consumer-owned cooperative provides service from Yampa to Baggs, Wyo.

Any member of the cooperative receiving service can attend and vote at the meeting. Active members also can drop off ballots by 5 p.m. June 17 to the Steamboat Springs office at 32 10th St, Chappell said. He said ballots can be mailed but must arrive at YVEA offices by the June 17 deadline.

Larry Ellgen, Colorado Group Controller for Peabody Energy, is facing Moffat County Tourism Association Executive Director Marilynn Hill for the District 2 seat. That district includes northern Moffat County.

Former Moffat County School District Finance Director Mike Brinks, who retired in 2006, is running uncontested for the District 3 seat, which covers Craig.

“I wouldn’t say every year there’s a contested race, but we’ve had some,” Chappell said. “It’s not typical, but it’s also not unusual. Several years ago, we had three contested races.”

Haight, a 1952 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, is a past YVEA board chairman and vice chairman.

The president of Steamboat-based Wee Ski, which manufactures child sport harnesses, said his background in business, including finance, engineering and transportation, continues to make him a good fit for the board.

A former Routt County commissioner, he served on the YVEA board for 18 years before leaving in 1997. He returned in 2005. Haight said he’s proud of his tenure, during which he said he has helped keep rates low and increase renewable energy use.

“I’d like to be there as long as I’m effective,” he said.

Fox, who started his construction business in 1980, has and continues to serve on numerous local boards and commissions. Fox said he believes in giving back to the community.

His decision to run has nothing to do with the performance of previous YVEA boards, Fox said.

He cited customer service as his primary concern, but said adapting to a more sustainable world by incorporating alternative energy options was important. Fox said his experience with sustainable business practices would benefit him as a board member.

“I want to be part of the leadership to move Yampa Valley Electric to be one of the best, if not the best, electric cooperatives in the state of Colorado,” he said.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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