Published January 31, 2013
Thurston PUD will interview all 5 commissioner applicants as a groupROLF BOONE
Rather than select finalists, the Thurston Public Utility District commission agreed this week to interview all five applicants who applied for the vacant District 2 commission seat. They will be interviewed as a group, rather than one by one. The group interview, which will take place at a PUD public meeting, is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 12, PUD general manager John Weidenfeller said Wednesday. The applicants are seeking to fill the seat left vacant by Alan Corwin, who resigned last year. His resignation took effect New Year’s Eve. Here are the five applicants: Vasiliy Stupin III, chief executive of VIS Group, a real estate management company; Daniel Cathers, an information technology specialist with the state Department of Social and Health Services; Gary Villanueva, who spent 20 years in the Army; Greg Tolbert, chief solutions officer for Sirius Business, a venture-capital firm; and Russell Olsen, voluntary cleanup program unit supervisor for the state Department of Ecology. The two existing commissioners, Chris Stearns and Linda Oosterman, were willing to compromise on the next step in the process after Oosterman supported a group-style interview and Stearns wanted all five applicants to advance to the next round, Stearns said. The commission also agreed to interview everyone who applied to fill the seat left vacant by Paul Pickett. Pickett, too, resigned last year, but earlier in the year. His seat was temporarily filled by Jim Lazar. Oosterman then replaced him in the District 1 seat after she was elected in November. Oosterman said she supports a group-style interview because it’s important for the new commissioners to work together as a board. “I want to watch their communication skills,” she said, adding that she’s interested in how concise their answers are and how they respect one another during the meeting. “The observations are very important to me,” Oosterman said. Each applicant will be asked six questions during the meeting, she added. A PUD commissioner earns $15,600 annually, according to PUD application materials. District 2 covers east Thurston County, including Lacey, Rainier and Yelm.