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EWEB at-large: Bartel.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The only contested race for a position on the Eugene Water & Electric Board features a peculiar struggle between incumbent board members. Sandra Bishop, who is in the middle of a four-year term representing Eugene City Council wards 6 and 7 on the utility board, is seeking to switch over to the vacant at-large position. To do it, she'll have to defeat fellow board member Peter Bartel. Whatever the game here may be, voters shouldn't play it, and instead should cast their ballots for Bartel.

Bartel was elected in 1998 to represent wards 4 and 5 on the utility board. When the ward boundaries were redrawn, Bartel found himself outside his district. To continue his service at EWEB, he has to run for the at-large seat, which became vacant when 11-year board member Susie Smith resigned.

Bishop was elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 in her west Eugene district. She was unaffected by redistricting, and she has two years remaining in her current term. Yet she's running for the at-large position, knowing that if she wins she'll bump Bartel off the board. It looks like a power play: Win or lose, Bishop will remain on the utility board, but the at-large election offers an opportunity to eliminate a rival and then appoint a successor in wards 6 and 7.

Bishop insists that's not the case. She filed to run for the at-large position before the ward boundaries were redrawn, and before Bartel entered the race. She decided against withdrawing, Bishop says, partly because she believes that west Eugene needs more of a voice in EWEB's affairs, and partly because she couldn't think of compelling reasons to change her plans to accommodate Bartel. The utility board, she says, is not a private club - the voters deserve a choice.

Fair enough, but it's an odd sort of choice: The only one who can really lose is Bartel. The question voters must answer is whether Bartel has done anything to deserve being removed from the board. He has not.

Bartel, 56, is a small-business consultant who lives and breathes local public policy. He's served on the Eugene Planning Commission, the Lane County Budget Committee, and is currently president of the Lane Council of Governments. In his first term on the utility board, Bartel has immersed himself in EWEB issues. He has been the board's leading proponent of the now-shelved telecommunications project. More recently, he has become an advocate of cost containment to avoid further rate increases, and voted in March to oppose the net 2.9 percent electric rate surcharge that took effect this month.

Bishop, 50, works as a lobbyist. Before joining the board she was head of the Westside Neighborhood Quality Project and served on the Metropolitan Area Planning Advisory Committee. She and Bartel disagree on some issues - she supported the March rate increase, for instance, and opposed last year's 36 percent electric rate increase because it introduced a tiered rate structure. Bartel supported the earlier increase.

Their differences, however, tend to be on issues of policy rather than on matters of philosophy. Neither offers fundamental criticisms of EWEB, its management or each other. The sensible thing to do is to keep both Bishop and Bartel on the board. The way to do that is to elect Bartel to the at-large position.


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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Reject attempt to play musical chairs; Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 19, 2002
Previous Article:Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.
Next Article:Energy sanity.

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