PUD’s top lawyer to go part-time
Thursday, March 7, 2013
WENATCHEE — Eager to cut back on her work hours but not yet ready to retire, Chelan County PUD General Counsel Carol Wardell will step down as head of the utility’s legal team and take a staff attorney post beginning May 1.
“I’m really looking at this as a good time to make a change in my life,” Wardell, 57, said Wednesday. “The district is financially strong and the future is bright.”
Wardell told commissioners of her plans Monday.
She and PUD General Manager John Janney have recommended that current staff attorney Erik Wahlquist be named new general council. The utility also has a third attorney, Karen Wiggum.
Wardell said she expected her current annual salary of $202,000 would be reduced to about $120,000 for a 30-hour week.
Wahlquist currently earns $142,690. His new salary has yet to be determined, she said.
Wardell’s decision comes only weeks after Janney tendered his resignation to dedicate more time to his family and church activities. His last day is Aug 1.
“I’m not going to say that John’s decision didn’t make me think,” she said. “But my reasons are different than his.”
After many years on the job, she says she wants to spend more time as a volunteer helping kids in schools.
Wardell has been a “lunch buddy” at Wenatchee’s Mission View Elementary School — spending the lunch hour chatting with students and helping them with schoolwork.
Her work schedule this year prevented that, she said.
She also welcomes more time for skiing or golfing with her husband Kurt Mack, an unemployment specialist with the state Department of Employment Security.
Three years ago, Wardell had a health scare while skiing when her heartbeat became irregular.
A surgically implanted pacemaker solved the problem, which has not reoccurred. She says that health issue isn’t part of her decision to cut back on work.
Originally from Richland, Wardell has been an attorney for 32 years. She and her husband came to Wenatchee in 1983 when she took a job with the Davis Arneil law firm.
She became a partner in the firm, but left in 1991 when she was appointed Chelan County Superior Court judge. She was reelected to the post and served until 1998, when she took a job at the PUD.
Wardell has been a strong advocate for children and helped found the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, a non-profit that supports children who are drawn into the legal system. She also serves on the Central Washington Hospital Foundation.
Her role as staff attorney will contribute to a smooth transition, she says, both for Wahlquist and, eventually, a new general manager.
Wardell says she hopes to end her career at the PUD in another five to 10 years.
“I want to work less hours,” she said. “I spend a lot of time down here.”
Christine Pratt: 665-1173
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