Thurston Public Utility District commissioner Linda Oosterman, who represents District 1, has endorsed challenger Dennis Pulsipher in his race against commissioner Chris Stearns, the first-term commissioner announced this week.
Pulsipher is aiming to unseat Stearns for his District 3 seat on the commission.
Oosterman, who was elected in 2012, said Pulsipher has the professional demeanor, specialized background and financial management skills to help the PUD, a water utility.
“The ability to carefully analyze and make critical financial decisions is imperative,” Oosterman said. “Dennis Pulsipher is the person with the expertise to solidify our board of commissioners.”
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Pulsipher on Tuesday said he welcomes her support.
“I’m proud to have her endorsement,” he said, adding that it is “significant and powerful and shows a desire to move the PUD forward.”
He said that he was interviewed by Oosterman because she wanted to learn more about his background, Pulsipher said.
“I bring additional experience to the board that is needed,” he said.
The District 3 race attracted four candidates prior to the August primary, with Stearns winning the primary, while Pulsipher came in second. Both advanced to the Nov. 4 general election.
Pulsipher also won an endorsement from candidate Douglas Swift, who lost in the primary.
Stearns said Tuesday that he was not surprised that Oosterman had chosen not to endorse him, saying that Oosterman and Pulsipher “represent the same interests.”
“Even if we don’t agree politically, we work together,” Stearns said. “I have no problem working with her even if she doesn’t endorse me. That’s just politics.”
This year’s PUD races don’t have anywhere near the hot-button issue of public power that drove the election in 2012. Still, Pulsipher has emphasized the importance of the PUD to remain financially solvent, while Stearns has emphasized water quality issues.
The PUD manages more than 150 water systems, the largest of which is in the Tanglewilde area of the county. Commissioners earn an annual salary of $19,800 or $1,650 per month. They also are paid a per diem rate of $114, such as when they gather for meetings.