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Important picks: Care needed in selection of utility board members

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Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012 12:14 am | Updated: 4:16 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial

Thursday night’s passage of the natural gas utility ordinance by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly should be noted as a turning point.

It marked the moment that Fairbanks came together in an effort to do something about the economic damage being caused by high energy prices. The assembly’s 6-2 vote followed recent decisions by the Fairbanks and North Pole city councils to transfer their utility authority to the borough so that something can be done.

That “something” is the new natural gas distribution utility, which the assembly created with its Thursday night vote. The utility has the purpose of seeing that natural gas is acquired and distributed to as many borough residents as is technically and economically feasible in short order.

It is just the beginning.

But it will go nowhere without top-notch borough residents sitting in each of the seven seats on the board of directors of the new utility.

Fairbanks needs people on the board who understand the complex issue of energy prices, energy markets and energy distribution. It needs people who are willing to give hours upon hours of themselves for the community good. It needs people who have skin thick enough to withstand the criticism that will inevitably come.

And it needs people who can keep the focus on helping the local economy and the residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Board members will be appointed by the Fairbanks city and borough mayors, the mayor of North Pole and the presiding officer of the Borough Assembly. Those four elected officials have an extraordinary job themselves: They are the ones who, through their selections, will determine the opening tone of the utility board.

The board’s work will begin in November. Its success is contingent on the caliber of people handling the task.

The three mayors and the assembly presiding officer must remember that.

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