Homer Electric Association board president David Carey was recently elected Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor. In assuming the new office, he appointed fellow HEA board member Hugh Chumley as his chief of staff.
There are inherent and potentially destructive conflicts of interest in simultaneously holding positions in the borough administration and on the governing board of our electrical cooperative.
For one thing, the KPB is one of HEA’s largest customers. As such, there are differing and sometimes conflicting priorities and interests to be represented for each entity. Some are primarily financial in nature, while others relate to HEA’s potential need to seek right of way grants from the borough for development of power transmission infrastructure.
According to some HEA board members, there have already been schedule conflicts causing Mayor Carey to miss HEA meetings. In response, it seems the mayor has attempted to change the days and times of HEA board meetings to better accommodate his new schedule, though this would be less convenient for other board members.
Some KPB assembly and HEA board members have raised concerns over these conflicts. Nonetheless, it appears that Carey intends to continue serving as both mayor and HEA board president. Apparently, when confronted with the potential problem of having to sign documents between the borough and HEA, Carey suggested that Mr. Chumley could resign his HEA board seat and then act on behalf of the mayor for such business. The validity of such an approach is suspect, if not downright illegal.
Why does Mayor Carey wish to control both the borough administration and HEA policy? Some HEA members speculate that he may plan to use his positions to promote development of the Pebble mine or other large-scale industrial developments. Or, perhaps it’s nothing more than ego.
Either way, many HEA members feel that it would be in the best interest of our electric cooperative for both Mr. Carey and Mr. Chumley to resign from the HEA board and devote all of their energies to governing our borough. Given the many challenges our local government must confront in the coming months and years, we need a full time administration.
Michael Hawfield is an HEA member
Comments are closed