Washington— A Nebraska utility regulator said she's in the running for the Democratic vacancy on the Federal Communications Commission created by the Sept. 7 departure of Gloria Tristani.
Anne Boyle, a member of the Nebraska Public Service Commission since 1996, said she is lobbying for the job to ensure that at least one of the five FCC commissioners has first-hand experience with rural state and state utility issues.
"With Gloria Tristani stepping down, there will no longer be the presence of a state commissioner at the FCC," said Boyle, who is a multiple product subscriber to Cox Communications Inc.
Boyle, 58, is finishing a six-year term representing Omaha on the state PSC. Her term expires at the end of next year.
After Tristani leaves, all four FCC members will be experienced Washington players, but Boyle said the agency needs someone from rural America so the FCC isn't caught off guard when rural interests speak up about its policies.
"We are a different part of the country. Our topography in this part of the country is both very challenging and very diverse," she said. "Often times I hear [from the FCC], 'We hadn't considered something until somebody told me that.' "
Boyle, who acknowledged that she has plenty of competition for the job, said she has reached out for support from Nebraska's two U.S. senators, Democrat Ben Nelson and Republican Chuck Hegel.
She also is seeking the help of former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who is expected to have a big say in picking the next FCC member.
In May, Boyle stepped down as chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party. She is a member of the consumer-affairs committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The NARUC is urging the Bush White House to pick a state regulator, but has not endorsed a candidate.
Implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been a difficult task in Nebraska, Boyle said. But the law has produced a choice in local phone service in her community: Boyle said she subscribes to local phone service, cable and high-speed Internet access through Cox.
"In Omaha, you can get that," she said.