Parker, Cook to seek reelection to Alabama PSC

Published 1:37 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

MONTGOMERY — Public Service Commission members Susan Parker and Jan Cook say they will run for re-election in 2010.

Parker, a first-term commissioner, said some Democrats had asked her to look at the lieutenant governor’s race since the Democratic incumbent, Jim Folsom Jr., is considering entering the 2010 race for governor. But she said that she decided to stick to the state’s utility regulatory board.

“I don’t mean to put the lieutenant governor down, but this is the most important job in Alabama right now,” she said.

Parker said energy issues are on everyone’s mind and are affecting everyone’s pocketbook. The PSC is the best place in state government to influence those issues, according to the commissioner, who was in Washington on Wednesday to meet with the president’s new energy secretary, Steven Chu.

Cook, who’s also a Democrat, said she will seek her sixth term on the PSC.

“We’ve got things working well at the commission, and I enjoy working there,” she said in an interview Thursday.

Parker and Cook have no announced opposition for their re-election bids. But Cook said she has always drawn opposition and expects it again in 2010.

Cook, 53, was elected as state auditor in 1982 and was re-elected in 1986. In 1990, she won her first term on the PSC and has been re-elected every four years since. In each campaign, Cook has won by putting up thousands of signs statewide, and she plans to run the same kind of low-budget campaign in next year’s election.

Parker, 53, left a career in education to be elected state auditor in 1998. She made an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in 2002. She returned to public office in 2006, when she won a seat on the PSC.

In that short time, Parker has become a member of the executive committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and she will become president of the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in June of this year.

She said she enjoys having a voice in national utility policies, particularly when they affect the poor.

“You want to know where you can be the most effective for the people,” she said in an interview Thursday.

The third member of the PSC, Democrat Lucy Baxley, was elected in 2008, and her term runs until 2012.