Portions of Hays County will be getting a new representative on the board of the Pedernales Electric Coop (PEC). Jim Powers has resigned under a cloud of conflict of interest.
Powers, who represented District 4, turned in a letter of resignation on Sept. 20 with an effective date of Oct. 1.
In the letter, Powers said he “struggled” with making the decision. First elected to the PEC Board in 2016, he was re-elected earlier this year.
PEC spokesman Mike Viesca confirmed the resignation involved a conflict of interest, but would not elaborate. “The PEC Board of Directors addressed conflict of interest certifications and disclosures with Mr. Powers at its regular meeting Sept.13,” Viesca said.
“After a very contentious campaign which was difficult for myself, my family and my business, I find myself evaluating where I need to be spending my time and energy,” Powers’ letter said, citing the pressing need of his expanding business as well as “new opportunities” he intends to pursue. “Although serving the members of the PEC has been a great honor for me, I have determined that it is in the best interest of both the PEC, myself and my family for me to step aside.”
In the coming weeks, the remaining board members will be meeting “to determine next steps regarding the District 4 director seat, as prescribed by the board’s bylaws,” PEC said in a press release.
Dripping Springs resident Kathi Thomas, who ran against Powers for membership on the board, said she “absolutely” plans to run again. “I’ve been telling people I planned to run next time it became available … I thought it would be years from now.”
Thomas said she’s unsure what action the board will take to fill the vacancy, but noted that when the district changed from at-large elections to single-member districts, the bylaws were not changed. “There’s a case to be made that since they did not change (the bylaws) they should be able to hold a special election.”
She was not surprised at Powers’ resignation or the cloud of conflict of interest. “We were saying there were problems … you need to get someone on there that doesn’t have any conflicts of interest – whether it’s conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest doesn’t matter.”
Thomas said she believes the PEC board needs someone who is “purely a member advocate.”
“People tend to be out of industries or have some peripheral thing to do with PEC and it always makes me uncomfortable.”
“I am grateful for Jim’s service to our membership over the past three years,” said Board President Paul Graf, District 6 director. “The entire board wishes him and his family all the best as they continue to be valued members of our great cooperative.”
“On behalf of PEC and its employees, we wish Jim well in his future endeavors,” CEO Julie C. Parsley said. “We greatly appreciate the support Jim gave us during his tenure.”
Powers’ letter also noted he had “championed the hiring of Parsley as the first-ever woman Chief Executive Officer of the PEC, and the establishment of a new Chief Operations Officer position.”
He also lauded his role in the change from “at large” elections to single-member districts. “Every director is now elected solely by the people they represent … a concept I have always supported.”
Powers, a resident of Dripping Springs, was elected Hays County Judge in 1998 and served two four-year terms. He also served one six-year term as a director at the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA). According to Don Meador of San Marcos, who replaced Powers on the GBRA board, Powers had been “a candidate for renomination,” although he “was not renominated.” GBRA directors are nominated by the governor.
Graf did not respond to an email seeking additional comment.