Shining light on the Light Commission race

The Marblehead Municipal Light Commission is another department that will need the public’s help in deciding its representatives on June 20. The structure of this election sees the four candidates running divided into two separate races.

One race is for a standard three-year term between incumbent Vice Chair Lisa Wolf and challenger Walter Homan. Meanwhile, the other is a unique situation that sees incumbent Adam Smith running against Nathaniel Burke for the final year of the term of former member Karl Johnson. Johnson resigned last year due to health issues, and Smith was chosen out of eight candidates by the board to take his place in the short term. However, considering the circumstances, the seat must hold a reelection despite not having expired.

Wolf is looking to secure a second straight term on the commission. According to her press release, she believes she brings valuable experience and perspective to the commission’s current challenges of a rapidly changing energy landscape, rising greenhouse-gas emissions, and increasing grid vulnerability. Wolf also holds the position of sustainability coordinator for Wellesley’s Municipal Light Plant. She believes this position has taught her a lot about how to maximize economic returns from sustainability initiatives such as battery storage, peak demand management, and electrification.

Homan is a former member of the Light Commission who served multiple terms about a decade prior. Since then he has served Marblehead with his company, Homan Electric. Homan tried to get back involved when he ran last year, but lost an extremely close race with current members Michael Huff and Jean-Jacques Yarmoff. Before getting involved with the commission, Homan served Marblehead as an employee of the wire inspector’s office and Fire Department.

Smith wants to finish what he started when the open position was bestowed upon him last fall. He feels that his experience in the technology and innovation business has equipped him to be prepared for a rapidly changing energy market, all while being able to continually provide reliable services at a reasonable cost to all Marblehead residents. According to his press release, Smith’s priorities if reelected include developing a five-year capital plan to upgrade the Light Department’s aging infrastructure, continuing to actively look for economically sound alternatives to costly fossil fuels, and supporting more rooftop solar on schools, municipal buildings, homes, and businesses.

Burke also has experience on the Light Commission. The long-tenured Marblehead resident served a term that ended in 2021 when he lost to Johnson and current member Simon Frechette. A highlight of Burke’s tenure is his support of Project 2015, a low carbon reliability resource sponsored by the Mass Municipal Wholesale Electric Company. It was designed with the purpose of directly benefiting Marblehead ratepayers with more price stability in the future and high reliability during extreme weather and power plant outages on the grid.