Small business advocate to serve as next Tacoma Public Utility Board member

Today Joe Bushnell, who leads Local Government Affairs for the Washington Hospitality Association in Pierce County, will attend his first meeting as the newest member of the Tacoma Public Utility Board.

Born and raised in Tacoma, Bushnell has always been interested in utilities. His father was a pioneer of curbside recycling in Washington State and founded Tacoma Recycling. Having seen the difference his family’s business was able to make on an important environmental issue, Bushnell hopes the local business community can be key partners in addressing climate change through financial interests.

In addition, Bushnell’s mother is from Cambodia, which has given him first-hand insights into the unique needs of Tacoma’s refugee community. He hopes his appointment will help the board reflect the people they represent and bring forward the voices of customers who historically may not have been heard.

“My goal as a member of the Public Utility Board is to help set the utility and our community up for long-term success,” said Bushnell. “When we look back decades from now, I hope my contribution to our utility shows that we had future generations in mind. I believe I can represent and advocate for a wide array of customers, whether they are residents, businesses or nonprofits, with a strong eye on environmental stewardship and equity.”

Bushnell is also the Board Chair of the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council and sits on the Travel Tacoma | Mt. Rainier Board of Directors.

Bushnell served over a decade in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Logistics Manager. He graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, and has a degree from The Evergreen State College, where he studied Political Science and Economics.

The board position came available as a result of Karen Larkin’s retirement from the board earlier this year. Bryan Flint is now serving as Chair, Mark Patterson is vice chair, Chrissy Cooley is secretary, and Carlos M. Watson is also a member.

The Public Utility Board is a five-person governing body for Tacoma Public Utilities, which consists of Tacoma Power, Tacoma Water and Tacoma Rail. Tacoma Public Utilities serves 200,000 customers in the Tacoma-Pierce County area.

Board members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by Tacoma’s City Council. Members serve a five-year term without pay. The Board meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. During the COVID-19 Stay Home order, members of the public can attend meetings virtually and should check TPU’s website and social media for times and Zoom information. Meetings are also broadcast live and livestreamed by TV Tacoma. Written comments submitted to the Public Utility Board at will be provided to the Board before the meeting if the comments are received by 2:00 p.m.

For more about the Public Utility Board, visit:

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