By Matt Buxton

FAIRBANKS – Voters kept one incumbent and elected one new face to the Interior Gas Utility’s board of directors.

Incumbent Mike Meeks, the board’s current chair, was re-elected in a two-way race with Clark Milne. Pamela Throop won a closer victory over incumbent Nadine Winters in a three-way race that included Lance Nelson.

With 100 percent of Tuesday’s voting counted, Meeks received about 57 percent of the vote to Milne’s 39 percent. In the three-way race, Throop had nearly 40 percent to Winters’ 36 percent and Nelson’s 23 percent.

In the race for Seat B, both candidates Meeks and Milne had a wealth of experience when it came to utilities, management and public works projects.
Meeks is the current head of public works on Fort Wainwright, and Milne has worked as a civil engineer on mostly road projects in Interior Alaska for nearly 40 years.

Meeks said he’s looking forward to the new challenges facing the utility, including the state’s plan to purchase the private Fairbanks Natural Gas in a bid to unite the utilities.

“It looks like we’re going to be the local controlling entity, so that means we’ll assume control of Fairbanks Natural Gas,” he said. “We’ve got to bring those two together and relook at our expansion and conversions.”

The race for Seat A was more varied in candidates.

Throop is a commercial real estate broker who’s advocated for the Interior’s energy needs on a state level. Winters is a former member of the Borough Assembly and one of the key proponents for the formation of the Interior Gas Utility in 2012. Lance Nelson is a local union ironworker.

Throop said she plans to push for a greater consideration of propane as part of the solution to the Interior’s energy needs, particularly for the harder-to-reach areas of the borough, as well as fighting for greater parity in state energy subsidies between the Interior and Anchorage.

This is the second time the public has had a chance to vote on the composition of the Interior Gas Utility since it was created by the three local governments in 2012.

The seven-member board has three appointed members, one from each of the local governments, and four public members. All members serve three-year terms.

The next time members will be up for a public vote will be in 2017.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.