Tim Wheeler defeated Karen Barger for a seat on the La Plata Electric Association board of directors by 17 votes.
The results were announced Monday after a recount process that took almost three hours.
The numbers matched those tabulated Saturday at the LPEA annual meeting, but because the margin in District 4, northern and eastern La Plata County, was less than 1 percent, LPEA’s bylaws required the recount.
Wheeler received 1,123 votes to Barger’s 1,106 votes.
“I’d like to thank all the people who supported me through a long, educational campaign,” Wheeler said in a telephone interview. “There’s a lot of great people in the county who worked just as hard as I did.”
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker administered the recount in the Clerk’s Office. She supervised a team of seven election judges. The recount was observed by the four volunteer members of LPEA’s Election Supervisory Committee, as well as members of the community, including the two candidates.
One seat in LPEA’s four districts come up for election annually. This year, incumbents Kohler McInnis and Britt Bassett retained their seats for additional three-year terms representing Districts 2 and 3, respectively. Wheeler will join new director Kirsten Skeehan, who was elected to represent District 1.
“The recount process was extremely thorough. I was very impressed. I learned a great deal about how conscientious and careful our county clerk and her team are, not just in LPEA’s election, but in all our elections,” said Karen Barger, after the recount. “This election is also a reminder to all LPEA members that every single vote counts.”
All members in good standing, who pay their electric bill to LPEA, are qualified to vote for the directors.
“I think this is a critical time for LPEA and our community, and the future is going to look very different than the past,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said he hopes his experience in the technology industry and in business in Durango would serve him well in helping LPEA provide lower rates, cleaner air and more renewable power.
He also said he would work to improve participation by the community in LPEA’s decision-making and in future elections.
New officers for the board will be elected at the LPEA board meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at LPEA’s headquarters, 45 Stewart St. in Bodo Industrial Park.
LPEA provides electricity to more than 33,000 members.