- Editor’s note: Last summer (2018), I was approached by then-candidate Andrew Saturn running for Public Utility District (PUD) commissioner. I was intrigued about his candidacy after reading public documents he presented on how the public’s interests were not being protected. Click here for this blog’s coverage, Oct. 15, 2018.
- I have volunteered in many election cycles bringing candidates to Yelm to introduce themselves and their platforms to our community so the voting public can learn directly and cast an educated vote. Such was the case when I invited Mr. Saturn to Yelm last October for a candidates forum I hosted at The Triad Theater in Yelm, along with then-candidates Tye Menser (county Commissioner) and Victor Minjares (county Prosecutor). The forum and Q & A session were live-streamed to Yelm residents.
- Mr. Saturn’s campaign focused on issues bringing locally-controlled electricity, public fiber broadband internet, higher worker pay and improved benefits, and expanding transparency. The electrical and communication monopolies here waged a vigorous effort to attack/discredit Mr. Saturn’s candidacy on multiple fronts, yet I could not refute the public documentation he presented. I felt the public had a right to hear his views, even though I received many comments against doing so. I did not back down regardless that my stand was unpopular for some.
- UPDATE: The WA. Public Disclosure Commission (PUD), the very agency tasked with transparency on the impeccability of state election campaigns, recently found that PUD General Manager John Weidenfeller “may” have violated state law when he sent rebutting statements to the three sitting PUD commissioners and subsequently “leaked” to the press with the clear intent of unfairly undermining Saturn’s campaign. The implication was this leak allegedly originated from the very office of the PUD General Manager who is supposed to know better than to engage in such actions.
Click here for the PDC document to the PUD.
- Click here for Mr. Saturn’s PDC Formal Complaint concerning misrepresented coverage of his campaign by The Olympian.
Bottom line: The PDC gave Mr. Weidenfeller a formal written warning where they wrote:
“Staff does not believe that rebutting statements made by Mr. Saturn in political advertisements and public forums as a candidate seeking election to the PUD, and providing that information to one of the incumbent Commissioners running against Mr. Saturn,is a permitted activity in accordance with PDC statues, rules and interpretations.”
“Pursuant to WAC 390-37-060(1)(b), PDC staff issued a formal written warning to John Weidenfeller concerning the importance of complying with RCW 42.17A.555 and the prohibition of using PUD facilities to support or oppose a candidate or ballot proposition, in accordance with WAC 390-05-271 and 273.”
In closing: What caught my observation in this entire matter from the start was the huge amount of opposition from the incumbent and her supporters, area politicians, and the two very large monopoly’s attacking Mr. Saturn yet never directly addressing his unique views and desire to bring about change to a PUD entrenched and entrenched to hold fast to the past.