Pasco man to vie for position as president of Franklin PUD board

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMay 12, 2014 

The first day of election filings produced few surprises in Benton and Franklin counties.

Curt DeWoody of Pasco was the only challenger to file who hadn't previously announced plans to run. He will be facing current Franklin PUD board President Bill Gordon, who is seeking a third six-year term on the board.

DeWoody, 60, moved to the area four years ago with his wife to be closer to their grandchildren. This is his first run for political office, but he spent 37 years working for Southern California Edison, investor-owned utility. He said he worked closely with governments and a large water distributor.

He also volunteered with church groups and the Boy Scouts.

Utility rates are low in Franklin County compared to California, and DeWoody said he would work to make sure they stay that way.

"I want to keep the rates as reasonable as I can," he said. "I'm on the lookout for things that could take it in the opposite direction."

DeWoody now works part time at the Columbia Park Golf Links in Kennewick. His son-in-law is Derrel Ebert, general manager of the Tri-City Dust Devils baseball team.

DeWoody attended some of the public utility district's board meetings and likes how the utility is run.

"I'm not running against the other guy because I don't like what he does," he said. "I thought maybe I could bring something different to the table."

Gordon, 66, of Pasco is the retired former partner from Gordon Brothers Winery and Gordon Brothers Inc., according to the PUD's website. He has worked with hotels in the United States, Germany and South Africa. He told the Herald that he has helped lead the PUD from poor financial conditions.

"Now our finances are good, and we've been able to keep our rates fairly constant," he said.

The district still faces questions about local control, Gordon said. Gordon, who is also on the board of Columbia Basin College, said the PUD's ratepayers are in a better situation than customers of investor-owned companies like the one DeWoody worked for.

"You're not in it for profit, so you try and keep your rates as low as possible," he said.

The position pays $27,420 annually.

The race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, drew the most interest from candidates, as expected.

Five people signed up on the first day of filing, with Democrat Estakio Beltran of Yakima, a former staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Republican Dan Newhouse, a former state agriculture director and legislator, the first to file, just after 9 a.m. Monday, according to the Secretary of State's website.

Also filing were Republicans Clint Didier, an Eltopia farmer and former pro football tight end; Kennewick attorney George Cicotte; and Kevin Midbust of Richland, who is running as an "opt out" candidate.

The District 4 Congressional race is the only one in Benton or Franklin counties so far that will require a primary as more than two candidates have filed for it.

Several state legislators representing parts of Benton and Franklin counties filed on the first day. They include Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, and Reps. Larry Haler, R-Richland; Susan Fagan, R-Pullman; and Joe Schmick, R-Colfax.

Two Benton County races are contested so far, but both involve candidates who had previously announced they were running. Mary Phillips, the county's geographic information systems manager, will run against fellow Republican Bill Spencer, a certified real estate appraiser, in a race to replace retiring Assessor Barbara Wagner. Spencer ran unsuccessfully against Wagner in 2010.

Incumbent county Commissioner Shon Small will be challenged by Tim Dalton, executive director of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership, who also ran for the position in 2010. Both are Republicans.

Other Benton County officials running for re-election are Auditor Brenda Chilton, Clerk Josie Delvin, Coroner John Hansens, Treasurer Duane Davidson and District Court Judges Terry M. Tanner, Bob Ingvalson, Dan Kathren, Joe Burrowes and Katy Butler. Benton PUD Commissioner Jeff Hall is also running again.

Franklin County officials filing for re-election were Assessor Steve Marks, Auditor Matt Beaton, Clerk Mike Killian, Commissioner Rick Miller, Coroner Dan Blasdel, District Court Judge Jerry Roach, Prosecutor Shawn Sant and Sheriff Richard Lathim.

Candidates have until Friday to file. Candidates will have to compete in the Aug. 5 primary if more than two people file for a seat. The top two candidates, regardless of party, will meet in the Nov. 4 general election.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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