Umatilla Electric Cooperative’s service area is divided into seven districts. Members of each district elect a director to represent them for a three-year term; each member may vote only in one district. This year, elections are being held for Districts 1 and 2. Results will be announced at UEC’s Annual Meeting on April 23, 2022.
DISTRICT 1 BOARD DIRECTOR CANDIDATES
District 1, the Boardman area district, runs south of the Columbia River, east of Tower Road to Bombing Range Road. District 1 is currently represented by Lee Docken.
James Baldock of Boardman, a rancher and pivot salesman, is a candidate for District 1 on the UEC Board of Directors.
“As a longtime resident of Umatilla and Morrow counties, I look forward to serving my neighbors on the UEC Board. Born and raised in Klamath Falls, I have been a lifelong Oregonian,” he said. “After graduating high school, I attended BMCC and graduated with an AAS in Production Agriculture. After college, I returned to Klamath Falls and began farming and raising cattle. In 2003 the opportunity to return to the Columbia Basin presented itself and I jumped on the chance.”
“Irrigated agriculture is a key part of our economy and near to my heart. Electric power plays a huge role in the viability of family farms. The accessibility and affordability of that power is key. I have been involved in many aspects of agriculture from raising alfalfa, working on a dryland wheat farm, helping farmers produce seed corn, raising cattle on irrigated pasture, and now working for an irrigation support company. Affordable power is important to all of them.”
“Reliable, affordable energy is one reason our area is so attractive to new industry. Growth from these new neighbors requires that the power infrastructure can keep up while not driving up costs. It is my goal to help UEC remain dependable and affordable for all members.”
“Serving on the UEC Board of Directors will give me the opportunity to gain experience in the power industry while standing for my fellow UEC members. I look forward to being your voice on the Board.”
Lee Docken has been a resident of Boardman since 1970. He and his wife, Pam, have been active in community affairs for many years, including Boardman Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club and the Elks. He served on the Boardman Planning Commission for 18 years, with some of those years as chairman.
Owning and operating Mountain Valley Land Company keeps Docken actively involved in development of our local area, and in constant contact with members’ needs and the UEC field crews and office staff.
Docken currently represents District 1 on the Umatilla Electric Board of Directors and has served in the past as the board vice president and as chairman of Rural Services Company, a former subsidiary of UEC.
Docken has achieved the Credentialed Cooperative Director Program certification and attends the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Director Training Courses for Rural Electric Systems.
“The challenge facing the cooperative today is the state and federal mandates for ‘green power.’ We must balance these requirements while maintaining the commitment to provide all members with reliable service at the lowest possible rates,” he said.
“UEC can achieve this by its continued participation in political and generation issues, water supply and the fish and dam issues. I would appreciate the opportunity to further serve the members of District 1 by receiving your vote.”
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Gabriel Hansen, an accountant at the Port of Morrow, is a candidate for District 1 on the UEC Board of Directors.
Hansen has a background in finance as a certified public accountant since graduating from the University of Idaho with a Master of Accountancy in 2014, “Umatilla Electric Co-op has done a great job of providing electricity to the Co-op members,” he said. “I am interested in a board position to support the mission of the Co-op. I agree with initiatives of the Co-op to help members conserve and use electricity wisely, along with building infrastructure for our growing communities.”
“Boardman is a great community and has lots of potential for growth. My favorite thing about Boardman is the Columbia River,” he said.
DISTRICT 2 BOARD DIRECTOR CANDIDATES
District 2, the Irrigon District, runs south of the Columbia River, East of Bombing Range Road to the Morrow County line. District 2 is currently represented by Jeff Wenholz.
Aaron Palmquist, City Manager of Irrigon, is a candidate for District 2 on the UEC Board of Directors.
“I have been a member of UEC for over 8.5 years. UEC has staff in place which assists with the day-to-day operations. My experience would be to bring my vast experience in analyticals and working across multiple disciplines,” he said.
“Growth and technologies are ever-changing. I have experience in both areas,” he said.
Von Studer of Irrigon is a candidate for District 2 on the UEC Board of Directors.
“I have lived in the Irrigon area for a combined 27 years. My work with Williams Northwest Pipeline, a natural gas transmission company, brought me here in 1989. I left for a few years working in various positions throughout the Northwest. I moved back to Irrigon in 1998 and recently retired from Williams after 37 years of service,” he said.
“I am interested in being a UEC director to have a better understanding of what may be coming ahead in the future,” he said. “The electric power sources from wind and solar does provide some benefits, however I am not sure it is affordable to many of us.”
“Serving as a director on the UEC Board will provide information that I can pass on to Irrigon UEC members that will hopefully assist them for their future power need decisions,” he said.
Jeff Wenholz, an Irrigon resident for 49 years, graduated from Riverside High School and attended Portland State University, majoring in accounting. He serves on local boards including Morrow County’s Planning Commission, Solid Waste Advisory Commission and Budget Committee, as well as the Irrigon Multi-Cultural Arts Center and Good Shepherd Hospital Board of Trustees. Wenholz has served as Umatilla Electric’s District 2 Director for 18 years and has served as president and now vice president. “It has been a pleasure and honor to serve as your UEC Director and with your help I hope to represent District 2 for another three years,” he said.
Wenholz earned the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate, Board Leadership Certificate and Director Gold Certificate.
“As your Director I am honored to have been able to support contributions UEC has made to the Irrigon community, such as an annual donation to the Irrigon/Boardman Assistance Center, donations to the Senior Center, new firefighting gear for the fire department and money for the Park District,” he said.
“UEC continues to experience growth over all rate classes—expansion at current processing plants, new processing plants, increases in irrigation, new houses being built and continuing growth in our largest industrial group. Even with growth, UEC is focused on upgrading existing infrastructure to better serve all members,” he said.
An example is UEC is planning to build a new substation to serve the Irrigon area. “This substation will have more capacity, modern design standards, multiple feeders and be closer to Irrigon, whereas the old substation has just one feeder serving the Irrigon area, limited capacity and a 50-year-old design. The point is to improve reliability for the Irrigon area.”
UEC continues to monitor state and federal legislation issues that can impact UEC or its members, he said. “Examples include renewable energy mandates, cap and trade, a carbon tax, removal of Snake River dams and other Columbia River issues. Legislation that affects the dams not only affects UEC’s ability to acquire low cost, carbon free hydropower but also impacts our members. These impacts can include irrigation, barges to move ag products and other goods, recreation and municipal water supplies.”
“These are just some of the issues the Board and UEC are and will be dealing with in the future—all while keeping our commitment to members to supply electricity safely and reliably at the lowest rates possible while maintaining rate stability. So that I may continue to work on behalf of the members of District 2, I would ask for your vote for the Board of Directors for District 2.”