Two former Fayetteville councilmen, a retired Army brigadier general, an Army public works director, a real estate salesman and a local businessman are among a slate of candidates seeking appointment to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission’s Board.
The Fayetteville PWC provides electric, water and sewer services to the Fayetteville and Cumberland County area.
The PWC Commission manages operations of the utilities and sets rates according to its charter.
PWC commissioners are appointed by the Fayetteville Council each September to four-year terms, with a limit of up two terms, according to city documents.
Applicants to the PWC Board are: Former Councilmen Christopher Davis and Ted Mohn, retired Brig. Gen. William Gothard, Army Public Works Chief Josef Hallatschek, Peter Stewart and Robert Vause.
During the Fayetteville City Council’s Nov. 14 meeting, Councilman D.J. Haire indicated that there had been a prior council consensus to hold off on making the appointment to the PWC Board until a new general manager is named to the organization.
Former PWC General Manager Elaina Ball left Sept. 2 to take a position in her home state of Texas.
More:Elaina Ball, first female CEO of Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission, to resign Sept. 2
Mayor Mitch Colvin said the council previously tabled the PWC commissioner appointment discussion but didn’t specify dates or a timeline on when the appointment should happen.
Colvin said it is his understanding that the current PWC Board is moving forward with hiring a search firm to find a new PWC general manager.
“They’re the governance of that board, and we appoint them with the confidence that they can handle that,” Colvin said.
Haire made a motion based on the city’s appointments committee’s recommendation to nominate former Councilman Davis to fill the PWC board spot.
Haire’s motion was seconded by Councilman Derrick Thompson and received support from Colvin and Councilmen Johnny Dawkins and Deno Hondros, but failed to pass because five other council members opposed it.
Councilmembers opposing were Councilman Mario Benavente and Councilwomen Shakeyla Ingram, Kathy Jensen, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin and Brenda McNair.
Jensen said the council can’t “just stop” the process to make an appointment and made a motion to bring in the six applicants for interviews.
Jensen’s motion received support from all council members except Thompson.
Officials didn’t indicate when the interviews will be scheduled, but the council’s next work session meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5.
Davis served as a councilman from 2019 until August and was the city’s liaison and ex-officio member to the PWC board for three years.
He’s also served as an engineer officer for the Army and has been in the National Guard since 2006, according to his application.
Davis wrote in his application that he hopes “to enhance” the relationship between the city and PWC leadership.
“Synergy between the two institutions must be aimed toward customer services and ensuring that Fayetteville is a place to live, work and recreate,” he wrote. “The (residents) desire to City and PWC leaders work more closely together and develop the type of infrastructure grid that guarantees growth and a high quality of living.”
Gothard is a retired brigadier general who is a former chief of staff of the U.S. Army Reserve Command and former chief of science and technology for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
According to his application, he was the Fayetteville Zoning Commission’s first chairman, is a former member of the Historic Resources Commission and has “experience managing multi-year and multi-million dollar classified procurement and research programs.”
“I want to ensure that PWC remains forward-looking to ensure quality service at reasonable rates in our service area as the region, customer service area, and energy and water management technologies evolve,” Gothard wrote in his application.
Hallatschek is chief of the U.S. Army Installation’s Management Command’s readiness division and provides public works oversight for 24 Army installations, according to his application.
He’s most recently served on the Fayetteville Storm Water Advisory Board.
Hallatschek wrote that he is interested in serving on the PWC board to provide his planning, programming, budgeting and operating experience “to make Fayetteville a better place to live and work for residents and a destination of choice for employers.”
Mohn served as a Fayetteville councilman for 10 years from 2007 until 2017 and wrote in his application that during that time, he worked with PWC commissioners on funding agreements for water and sewer extensions to annexed areas of the city, charter revision, economic development funding associated with the charter revision prior PWC budgets
Mohn also served in the Army for 22 years followed by working as a deputy director of operations for the Special Operations Mission Training Center and as a contracting office representative to review invoices and contracts.
“Understanding how the Fayetteville City Council and (Fayetteville) PWC budget works, I know I can bring the required knowledge and dedication to be an effective and efficient (Fayetteville) PWC commissioner on behalf of the Fayetteville City Council and utility’s ratepayers,” Mohn wrote.
Stewart is a lifelong Fayetteville native who managed Stewart Nissan Oldsmobile from 1978 to 1999 and operated Stewart Superstore from 1999 until 2010.
He currently works in sales for Franklin Johnson Commercial Real Estate and serves on The Salvation Army Board.
Stewart said that as an owner and manager of commercial property, he’s dealt with electric, water and sanitary utility services for more than 45 years through permits, construction, repairs and utility easements.
“I believe that I can bring a policy perspective to the commission that will seek to balance the long-term health of the organization with the short-term needs to optimize the value of the city’s largest asset to the (residents) of the entire city,” he wrote in his application.
Vause is the owner of Vause Equipment Co. And said that his experience with electric, water and sanitary sewer utility services has been selling contractors equipment that provides those services.
He wrote in his application that he’d like to serve on the PWC Commission to “give back” to his community using his business experience and would strive to be a “valuable asset” to the PWC manager.
Last PWC appointment
In a 5-4 split vote last November, the Fayetteville Council appointed retired Col. Don Porter to serve as a PWC commissioner.
The council at that time had also been deadlocked in a split vote for two months, from September 2021 to November 2021, in naming an appointee.
The appointment came in the midst of former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell resigning from the Fayetteville Council.
Waddell’s resignation letter cited concerns about communication between Colvin and Bernhard Capital Partners.
Bernhard Capital Partners is a Louisiana-based investment firm that proposed in May 2020 to pay $750 million — which company officials later estimated to be about $1 billion — to run Fayetteville’s utilities for the next 30 years.
More:City documents reveal new details about Bernhard proposal to PWC/Fayetteville
PWC officials announced in May 2021 that they were pausing discussions with Bernhard, after saying that they wanted to release details of the proposal, but a nondisclosure agreement prevented that from happening.
Colvin previously called Waddell’s claims “baseless,” and Davis previously said there is no proof of Waddell’s allegations.
Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.
More:Fayetteville City Council members open up about Waddell’s resignation, Bernhard’s deal, PWC leader