Villager Gerald Anderson received a round of applause Monday night at the Savannah Center after winning an election to serve on the SECO Board of Trustees.
Anderson’s victory over seven other Villagers – the largest field of candidates ever in a SECO election – was announced at the electric co-operative’s District 3 meeting in front of a large crowd – many of whom had come out to show their support for the four-year resident of the Village of Belle Aire.
“One of the reasons I moved into Belle Aire when we came down was to be in the SECO district, because I knew it was a good company to start with and I wanted to be there in Sumter County,” Anderson said. “I have a background in the industry, so I decided to give it a shot.”
Prior to moving to The Villages, Anderson enjoyed a long career in business before being appointed director of operations for Bucks County, Pa., serving a population of 650,000 and covering 622 square miles. He was responsible for design, construction and opening of a $150 million state-of-the-art justice center complex located in Historic Doylestown, Pa. And the Marine Corps veteran and former volunteer fire department president served four six-year terms on the Board of Supervisors of Warrington, Pa.
As for his goals as the new District 3 representative, Anderson said he’s going to keep an open mind and just do his part to help in any way possible.
“It’s an extremely well-run company and I want to see it stay that way,” he said. “I want to keep our rates where they are.”
Anderson said one area he thinks the board will have to look at is the fact that in five to 10 years, 50 percent of the skilled labor force in the power industry is predicted to retire.
“That’s a challenge to fill those positions,” he said. “I’d like to see the possibility for some apprenticeships and train these young people how to do some of these things. We owe it your kids and our grandkids to keep our systems running the way they are.”
Anderson, who also serves as president of the Belle Aire Social Club, fills a vacancy that was left when Village of Polo Ridge resident Richard Belles resigned from the SECO board in March. Having been an elected official for many years in the past, Anderson said he ran his campaign on personal touch and meeting as many potential voters as possible.
“I personally gave out about 750 cards in the last two weeks,” he said. “I saw a lot of people and I saw a lot of them show up here.”
Anderson’s wife, Jane, who campaigned alongside family and friends, was all smiles as she hugged her husband after he was announced as the winner.
“I’m very proud,” she said. “I’m very excited for him to do his duty and serve the board well and the constituents in his district.”
Seven other Villagers also sought the District 3 seat on the SECO board. They included:
- Aileen Milton was hoping to become the first woman ever to serve on the SECO Board of Trustees. The Village of Del La Vista West resident is best known for her role as the leader of The Villages Tea Party. She is also the founder of The Villages Conservative Media. She has previous experience as a certified property manager in both commercial and residential real estate and served as a volunteer in 1992 at the Republican National Convention.
- Al Uhryniak, of the Village of Belvedere, worked 38 years in the telecommunications industry and retired as the general manager of the Clinton Telephone Company in Clinton, Pa. Since retiring, he’s worked as a consultant to utility companies across the United States and Canada, providing insight to process efficiency and engineering. And he has been intimately involved with government regulations and requirements, the functions and decision-making processes of utility companies, process efficiency improvements, customer service and cost control.
- Paul Embs, a resident of the Village of Pennecamp, is a former electric cooperative president and CEO (2005-2015) and has 25 years of experience in electric cooperative management. Embs has served on several boards and energy-related committees at the national, regional and state levels. While living in Kentucky, Embs served as chairman of the local hospice and also a community foundation board and was active in regional economic and industrial development.
- Barry Evans served on the SECO Energy Board of Trustees for eight years before resigning after he moved out of District 3. He has since moved back into District 3 and was seeking to return to the board. Evans enjoyed a long career as a city manager in various parts of the country before retiring to The Villages. He also is also a columnist for Villages-News.com and his “Life in The Villages” column appears each weekend. He and his wife live in the Village of Harmeswood of Belle Aire.
- Bryan Lifsey serves as the chairman of the Community Development District 2 Board of Supervisors. Lifsey has been a longtime fixture as the office manager at Seniors vs. Crime in The Villages. He and his wife have lived since 2003 in the Village of Alhambra. Lifsey served 37 years in the U.S. Army. He served 15 years on active duty with assignments in Vietnam, Korea and Hawaii, and 22 years in the reserves before he retired from military service in 2005. While in the reserves, his full-time job was with a major insurance company in Connecticut. He retired from the insurance company in 1998 and moved back to his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn. Lifsey ran against Belles in January, but lost that contest.
- Stephen M. Doran, of the Village of Hadley, is a former energy manager for three Iowa Veterans Affairs hospitals. He also served as a staff industrial engineer and engineering consultant for approximately 35 years with a wide variety of industrial firms. Doran, who also worked as an electrician in his father’s electrical/plumbing/heating business, served as board chairman for a non-profit agency that served the needs of the disabled. And as a Rotarian, he had 13 years of perfect attendance.
- Gary Lee Jackson, of the Mariel Villas in the Village of Hemingway, managed an electric cooperative in Clarksburg, W.Va. and has 42 years of experience in three types of utilities – investor-owned, municipal and cooperative. And he earned a Master of Science degree in management in 2003.