Year in and year out, no state agency has more influence over your pocketbook than the Public Service Commission, which sets the rules and rates for gas, electric and telephone utilities.
This year, two of the PSC's five seats are up for statewide election. In both cases, we have an opportunity to replace commissioners who have too often favored special interests over the interests of Georgia residents and businesses.
District 3: If anyone serves as the commission's swing vote, it's David Burgess, an engineer and former PSC staff member. But on too many controversial issues -- a recent effort to hide from the public information on natural gas companies, for example -- Burgess swings toward regulated industries. Georgians deserve commissioners with an independent streak, not ones who are willing to strike unfair "compromises."
There is a risk that Burgess' opponent, Republican activist Chuck Eaton, will favor the powerful utilities. But he's knowledgeable, smart and energetic. We're hopeful that his pro-business philosophy will allow him to do what's right for broader interests than just utilities.
District 5: Stan Wise is what's wrong with American politics. Although he ran as a reformer 12 years ago, that was a lie, pure and simple. Not only has Wise been an unremitting servant for Georgia Power and other utilities, he's vindictive about it -- attempting, for example, to suppress the consumer's voice in rate decisions and regularly responding to reasoned arguments with name-calling.
There's no mystery to why: Wise's tangled relationships with the utilities he regulates include the fact that his leading campaign aide performed PR for a controversial AGL contractor, who in turn gave money to Wise's campaign. And his contribution list reads like a who's who of execs from the companies he supposedly regulates.
Fortunately, Wise's opponent, Dawn Randolph, is a substantive candidate with a long record of public service and work for major nonprofits. A former aide to then-Sen. Sam Nunn, she promises to look out for consumers and to advocate sustainable development.
Voting for Randolph will be one of the easiest, feel-good choices you can make this campaign season.
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