The Tillamook County Pioneer sent five questions to Tillamook County candidates for State Representative for House District 10 (south Tillamook County); House District 32 (Central/north Tillamook County); Tillamook County Board of Commissioners; and Tillamook PUD Board Candidates.
Over the next week, we will publish the candidates’ answers, beginning with candidates for state representative. It is our belief that voters need as much information about the candidates as possible, and many can’t make it to public forums and events, and the ads, social media, postcards, brochures do not always give an accurate view.
It is our intention to provide the opportunity for voters to compare the candidates on a level playing field.
MEET THE CANDIDATES:
Barbara A. Trout, Tillamook PUD, Subdivision 5
1. Why do you want this position, and why are you the best person for it?
I have served on the Tillamook PUD Board for the past 22 years. The utility business is interesting, challenging and rewarding and I would like to continue in the position. Providing stable, reliable power at affordable prices is critical to the economic well-being of our people and communities. Tillamook PUD is a full requirements customer of the Bonneville Power Administration with the vast majority of our electricity coming from the federal dams on the Columbia river system. We also augment our power supply with some methane digesters attached to local dairy operations. Understanding how the utility industry works is vital to making important contributions at the board level. As a PUD board director, I have been active in various utility associations, such as the Northwest Public Power Association, the Oregon PUD Association and the American Public Power Association attending seminars, classes and conferences, developing a greater understanding of all aspects of the utility industry. This knowledge is helpful in making decisions directing the policies and goals of TPUD to best serve the people of Tillamook County. As a Consumer-Owned Utility, PUD’s only obligation is to our customers, the people of Tillamook county who come from all walks of life with variety of concerns and challenges. I believe I bring a unique perspective as a member of the PUD board, as I am currently the only member who is not retired, and I am also only the second woman to ever serve on the Tillamook PUD Board of Directors.
2. What will you do to make a difference for Tillamook County?
In 2002, at my suggestion, the Tillamook PUD implemented the Community Grant Program, allowing local non-profits to apply for small economic, and community enhancement grants to complete local projects. Over the years, 109 different community groups and organizations have leveraged these small grants to complete a variety of important projects, enhancing the quality of life and making a positive difference in Tillamook County. Tillamook PUD has invested over $700,000 through our Community Grant Program, which has leveraged millions of dollars in improvements for projects in all areas of Tillamook County. While I’m not sure what suggestions I may have in the future, I can be described as a problem-solver, and will continue to look for ways to make positive contributions to better the lives of the customers of Tillamook PUD.
3. What are your main/top priorities?
My main priorities as a board member for the Tillamook PUD will be to continue to support the PUD crews and staff who demonstrate a commitment every day to serving our customers with safe, reliable and affordable power. Given our coastal climate which at times includes coastal storms and local flooding, I would like to see PUD strengthen our distribution system, so we can minimize unplanned outages, and when disaster does strike, enhance our ability to get the power back on as quickly as possible. In addition, I would like to see more emphasis on green power and increasing local generation where economically feasible.
4. Provide a SWOT analysis of Tillamook County – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
As a fourth-generation Tillamook County property owner, who grew up in Tillamook and has lived in Rockaway Beach for over 30 years, I believe Tillamook County’s greatest strength is our people and their willingness to help others. As a child I have fond memories as a Camp Fire Girl working on various projects, as a Tillamook High School student, I organized and worked on many Charity Drive activities, and during my adult life I have made community service a major component of my daily activities. I see this kind of giving spirit in many of my neighbors and friends, which makes Tillamook County a truly remarkable place to live. The staff of the Tillamook PUD embody this kind of service to the community, putting our customers first, and when outages occur working non-stop until the power is restored. We also are fortunate to live in the most beautiful place imaginable, with a bounty of natural resources used for both commercial and recreational activities.
One of Tillamook County’s greatest weakness is our vulnerability to storms. It is not unusual for intense coastal storms and heavy rains to cause landslides and flooding and thereby isolating our communities.
These weather events sometimes disrupt power delivery by taking out transmission and distribution lines. Tillamook PUD is on the right track in working to strengthen our electric distribution system, to minimize unforeseen outages, and aid in the quick restoration of electric service.
Tillamook PUD has helped create opportunities in the county by forming a partnership with Tillamook County and the Port of Tillamook Bay to create “Lightwave” in 2008. Lightwave is an affordable high-speed broadband telecommunication system designed to promote economic development, distance learning and telemedicine opportunities for Tillamook County. This was done at a time when big internet providers were unwilling to invest in building a broadband system in our rural county. Through Lightwave, Tillamook PUD is continuing to support connectivity for all of Tillamook County which will help future economic growth and stability.
There are two things that seem the most threatening. One is the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake and resulting Tsunami scenario. Geologists indicate we are overdue for a major tectonic plate shift offshore, which, if it is anything like the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March of 2011, will destroy much of the Tillamook County coastal communities, and cut off transportation corridors for years to come. For those people who survive that event, I believe they will describe their lives as “before” and “after” the disaster.
The other threat I find troubling is the devisive nature of our current politics. Since I view our greatest strength as the ability of Tillamook County citizens to work together for the good of all, I’m concerned by the mentality where it is “us” and “them” and where the two groups can’t peacefully co-exist, let alone work together.
5. Please describe your vision for Tillamook County.
My vision for Tillamook County includes vibrant communities where people help each other and appreciate and protect our natural resources. We have the opportunity to build a stronger economy by bringing in business sectors that rely on affordable electricity and produce value-added products while not polluting or negatively impacting our natural beauty. Tillamook PUD can and will continue to play an important role in our community enhancement and quality of life by supplying affordable reliable power to the people.