Our Voice: Energy Northwest's Michael Paoli joins Herald editorial board

What started as an experiment with the editorial board's structure is turning into an institution.

Today, we're introducing the board's newest reader representative -- Michael Paoli of Energy Northwest. He's the third Herald reader to take on that role.

We're also saying goodbye to Marie Cimmiyotti, who served in that slot through the second half of 2012.

We couldn't have asked for a more dedicated volunteer. Her tenure included one of the busiest election seasons in years, and she was an active participant in the hours of interviews and deliberations leading the editorial board's recommendations on local, state and federal races.

The reader representative's job is to bring an outsider's view to the editorial board's discussions. It's not always easy to jump into a conversation that a tightknit group of opinionated individuals has carried on for years.

We're grateful that anyone is willing to try and delighted that Cimmiyotti's contributions to our conversation exceeded our expectations.

She will now be able to devote herself to the marketing firm she started in 2011, BeanSprout Marketing & PR, without the distraction of endless editorial board meetings. We wish her luck and hope she enjoyed serving on the editorial board as much as we enjoyed having her participate.

As much as we'll miss Cimmiyotti, we're excited to be welcoming a new reader representative.

Paoli, public affairs assistant manager at Energy Northwest, is a relative newcomer to the community, arriving in the Tri-Cities three years ago.

But he's quickly immersed himself into community life -- participating in the Leadership Tri-Cities training program, sitting on the Kennewick Parks Board and volunteering with St. Joseph's School.

Paoli comes to the Tri-Cities after an Air Force career that took him to Turkey, Germany, Italy, Japan and Norway, and various parts of the United States, including New York, Alabama, Florida and Virginia.

He's agreed to participate on the editorial board through the first half of the year. We're confident Paoli's diverse experiences will bring an added depth to our deliberations.

We also think he has the right temperament to jump into the debate without losing perspective.

"While I've formed a few strong opinions, more often than not I've discovered that kernels of wisdom exist in most all opinions, even those contrary to my own, when presented by sensible people," Paoli wrote in his application.

That's a good starting point for the task ahead.