"Hi! I'm Margaret Pageler, chair of the Seattle City Council's Utilities Committee," the spot began. "Our public utilities are the best in the nation...." The ad went on to encourage listeners to feel good about cheap electricity in Seattle (a phenomenon which is primarily due to the public nature of City Light, and the federally funded dams built in the region half a century ago).
The ad, which Seattle City Light spent $11,200 to run, seemed like a Pageler election promo, says Peter Sherwin, a KIRO listener and Eastlake activist who complained to Carol Van Noy at the city's Ethics & Elections office. Sherwin says that using city money to make ads for a city council candidate runs afoul of election law. After the complaint, Van Noy says Seattle City Light "was very cooperative." They immediately changed the voice-over from Pageler to SCL Superintendent Gary Zarker.