Sacramento voters made a wise choice 91 years ago by establishing the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and rejecting private power companies, understanding that everyone benefits from electricity, no matter their political persuasion.
The electorate in 1923 also created an elected board, anticipating residents would want to exert some say over their utility’s direction.
On Nov. 4, voters will continue in that tradition by selecting one of four candidates running to replace Howard Posner, who since 1998 has represented Ward Three, which includes East Sacramento, Arden, Rosemont, College Greens and Florin.
There are two strong contenders. But like Posner and California Public Utilities Commissioner and former SMUD board member Michael Picker, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board endorses Gregg Fishman to fill the Ward Three seat over his worthy opponent, Mario Guerrero.
Fishman, 54, is a levelheaded former radio news reporter for KFBK and KGO, who worked as an information officer for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District from 1998-2001, becoming familiar with most aspects of the district’s operations.
During the California energy crisis in 2001, Fishman managed communications for the California Independent System Operator, which is responsible for transmitting electricity across the state. He stayed at Cal-ISO until 2010 and now is communications coordinator for the California State Association of Counties.
Fishman, who is active with the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s tree planting program, promises to remain focused on SMUD’s commitment to renewable energy and conservation, while keeping rates affordable.
Guerrero, 36, Fishman’s main opponent, is president of the Stonewall Democratic Club in Sacramento and is active in Equality California, a leading advocate on behalf of same-sex marriage.
He also is legislative director of Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents state workers. Guerrero, a former Marine, has a long-standing interest in environmental issues and has an impressive list of endorsements. He is a hard worker who has a future in politics.
Two other candidates also will appear on the ballot: Carl A. Burton, 73, a retired former business owner who ran against Posner 12 years ago, and Kevin Ferreira, 51.
SMUD is a well-run organization with a functional board. Guerrero would be capable. But in our view, Fishman has an unusually strong commitment to the utility and would maintain Sacramento’s strong tradition of public power.