Western District Candidates 2012 [UPDATE]


Electronic Voting

The Western District is again offering its members the convenience of on-line voting. Your on-line ballot to vote in the Western District election will be accessible beginning Wednesday, May 23, 2012, and on-line voting will close Monday, June 26, 2012 at midnight EDT. If you are a voting member of ITE and had a valid email address on file with International Headquarters as of May 1st, you will receive an email message from Elections OnLine with instructions on how to vote electronically. Login at www.electionsonline.us/election with your username and the password provided in the email message from “election” with the subject of “Vote Now!” 

Paper Ballot Voting

Members wishing to vote by paper ballot can request them via phone (505) 350-6972, fax (505) 341-3038, e-mail:
kaspelin@vectornm.com or by regular mail to:

Karen Aspelin, P.E., PTOE

ITE Western District Secretary-Treasurer

Vector Engineering, LLC

5951 Jefferson, NE Suite B

Albuquerque, NM  87109

Paper ballot requests must be received no later than Monday, June 11, 2012, and completed ballots returned to the Secretary-Treasurer no later than Wednesday, June 20, 2012.  Completed ballots may also be returned in person at the Annual Business Meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. If you need help voting electronically or have questions on the electronic or paper ballot, please contact the District Administrator, Jenny Grote, at (602) 256-4337 or jenny.grote@phoenix.gov.

Don’t Mix Them Up

Elections for ITE International officers may be occurring simultaneously as Western District’s, so you may receive multiple messages from ElectionsOnLine.  Please be sure to read each one to ensure that you vote in both elections.

Please Vote

All members are encouraged to vote.  Regardless of how you vote, please vote and make your voice be heard. The deadline for voting electronically has been set as late as possible to allow you to meet and/or learn about the Western District candidates before voting.  Thanks for helping the Western District serve its members efficiently and effectively!

Candidate for President

Walter Okitsu, P.E., PTOE, PTP (Fellow)

I have a confession to make. When I ran for Secretary-Treasurer a couple of years ago, I didn’t have “the vision thing” in regards to where the Western District should be led. Now I’ve got it, and it’s simple. Our District needs to regain the financial vitality it had before the recession hit. The vision is not so much to expand into new frontiers, but to make sure we have a solid foundation to keep going. ITE is in better shape than most engineering societies, and the Western District is in as good a shape as any in ITE. However, we must avoid having our financial reserves dip further below our desired target.

The solution isn’t always to slash programs and expenses. As in business, sometimes we need to spend money to make money. For example, on my recommendation, the District will spend some of its $300,000 Student Endowment Fund on student programs now instead of waiting for the fund to grow to $500,000. Rather than risk jeopardizing our greatest source of future members, which is our student population, we will keep student programs alive with an infusion when it is most needed. You as members have been generous in your donations to the endowment fund. Now your donations will help the Class of 2012, as well as the Class of 2020.

Sometimes we need to take in less money to make more money. Last summer, I had suggested an election be held to raise District dues to as much as $40, from the current $24.20. However, after further consideration (Okay, I changed my mind), I recommended that the Board not hold that election to avoid loss of membership. We’ll make do with less dues.

Finally, we have to remember a volunteer organization doesn’t have to be run like a business. Our District has the aura of a winning organization to which members want to devote their time and energy. Yay, free labor! My vision is to keep that feeling alive.


Candidate for Vice President

Karen Aspelin, P.E., PTOE

I have been thrilled to serve in a leadership position for the District after a dozen years as a committee chair and in other roles. In last year’s candidate statement I stated my three main priorities if I were elected secretary-treasurer.  Below I will review and state my progress on each.

  • Fiscal responsibility – Last year I said, “I will vote to spend the District’s money as if it were my own, carefully considering what the District is getting in return for each dollar spent.”  In the past few months I have eliminated bank services the District was using that were costing us a lot of fees and were not being used.  I also tasked the Student Endowment Fund committee with reviewing their investments and the fees they were paying for that service.
  • Last year I said I would strive to “Make student participation in the annual meetings meaningful. Students receive full registrations for our annual meetings for nearly free, with nothing expected in return.  We need to ensure that this opportunity is used by these students as a stepping stone into our industry and not just as a junket subsidized by other meeting attendees.”  This point was discussed in depth at our mid-year board meeting.  We voted to raise student registration costs for the upcoming annual meetings to an amount that would weed out students who were not serious about their participation in the meetings, while still keeping the cost affordable.
  • Focus on the technical products of our District.  In my last statement I mentioned that “We often get wrapped up in meeting just to plan the next meeting.  Our members and student members have a tremendous amount of knowledge that it is ITE’s responsibility to share among its members.”  I will continue to be a proponent of the District’s data collection program and would like to see the number of grants awarded be increased – this is money spent from which the entire industry gets valuable data.  I arranged to have an ethics course offered, taught by ITE members, as part of the technical session of the San Francisco and upcoming Santa Barbara annual meetings.


Thank you for considering me for your next vice president. I look forward to continuing my service to the Institute.


Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer

Justin S. Link, P.E.

It is an honor to be a candidate for ITE Western District Secretary-Treasurer.  I look forward to continuing the tradition of service and leadership in ITE that began for me in college, and continues today.

My involvement with ITE began at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I helped re-establish the Student Chapter and served as its Vice-President.  After joining the Profession, I served on the Central Coast Section Executive Board as Secretary, Vice-President, President and Scribe.  As President, I continued to work with our student chapter, holding section meetings on campus and providing financial support to the chapter.  I also worked to recognize our members by establishing a Section-level Lifetime Achievement Award.  I am currently serving as Hotel Chair, Events Committee Member, and Local Liaison for the Student Endowment Fund mITEy Race for the 2012 Western District Annual Meeting Local Arrangements Committee.

I have attended recent Western District Board Meetings, acquainting myself with the issues facing the District.  I find three issues most pressing:  membership, finances, and publicity.  The challenge of a slower economy has resulted in the loss of some Western District members, and has also impacted the District’s financial reserves.  Additionally, recognition of our profession and organization should extend beyond the “walls of ITE”, through additional public promotion.  These challenges are by no means insurmountable.  The District is proactively taking measures to replenish its financial reserves, and has appointed its first Public Relations Chair, Chuck Huffine.  As ITE Western District Secretary-Treasurer, I would work hard to continue and build on these efforts.

With this in mind, I have set the following goals for the Western District:

  • Rebuild and increase membership
  • Encourage and support Student Members & Younger Professionals
  • Rebuild financial reserves
  • Increase public awareness of ITE and the Profession


Most importantly, my goal is to be your “voice” on the ITE Western District Board.  I want to hear from you, know what you expect from our ITE Western District, and make your expectations and priorities known.

We have a fantastic organization that facilitates fellowship, collaboration, and professional growth.  My hope is to efficiently expand those benefits, and extend them to others.   I offer my dedication and enthusiasm in service for you, the members, and the ITE Western District.

Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer

Carlos Ortiz, P.E., T.E., PTOE

With over 20 years of professional transportation engineering experience, I am pleased by the opportunity to serve the Western District Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) as Secretary-Treasurer.  Your vote to support me in this leadership role is not only appreciated, but is important to our region and the ITE organization.

I am passionate about transportation engineering and mentoring the young “up and comers” within our industry.  As a licensed civil engineer (PE), traffic engineer (TE-California), and professional traffic operations engineer (PTOE), I have served numerous Southern California Cities in an “as needed” traffic engineering role.  Every year, I also spend a great deal of time mentoring engineering students at the University of Southern California (USC); University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA); and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).

As an active member of ITE for over 20 years, I have served as President of both the ITE Southern California and ITE Riverside-San Bernardino Sections.  Also, I was a member of the Local Arraignment Committee (LAC) for the 2002 Western District Annual Meeting in Palm Desert, California. Also, I have served in a number of related Board positions for ASCE Young Members Forum (YMF) and Orange County Traffic Engineers Council (OCTEC). This experience has provided me with leadership and management skills and with invaluable knowledge about the Western District, and how ITE functions at the national and local levels.

If appointed to the Secretary-Treasurer position, my goal is to proactively work with the District Board on evaluating the best near- and long-term interests of the ITE Western District membership.  Achieving this goal will rely on successful implementation of the following objectives (to name a few):


  • Increasing ITE exposure locally, nationally, and internationally
  • Controlling spending and maintaining a healthy organizational budget
  • Increasing membership and participation in local sections
  • Augmenting participation in Annual District Meetings
  • Promoting ITE sponsorship by private firms and vendors/manufacturers
  • Engaging local engineering universities
  • Supporting the Student Endowment Fund


As a partner in the realm of transportation engineering, you are

important to the ITE organization, and I strongly encourage you to share your thoughts about the direction of Western District ITE with me.  Please feel free to connect with me via email at cortiz@rbf.com.  Again, I look forward to your continued support and to the opportunity of serving the Western District as Secretary-Treasurer.

Candidate for International Director

Jenny L. Grote, P.E., PTOE

I entered the transportation profession 29 years ago to help people improve their mobility. I also joined ITE at that time because I believed transportation professionals needed the support of their peers. Since then, I have gained 26 years in leadership experience in ITE:  Arizona Section President in 1989-90; District President in 1993-94; International Director in 1997, 1998 and 1999; International President in 2002, and; currently District Administrator since 2004. This is a unique opportunity to serve again as International Director, representing the Western District and return to the International Board for a three-year term.

As International Director, I would continue to make improvements to an organization that already offers quality programs, products, and services to its members. Here are five ways we can make ITE membership even more valuable:

1. Ensure maximum value for your ITE dues by packaging member benefits much like agency memberships. This was one of my first priorities when I began my first International Director term on the International Board in 1997. Now it is even more important for ITE membership to be affordable.

2. Train younger members in leadership and management skills to be prepared for the challenges of the transportation profession. This is not only a need in the workforce, but in all levels of ITE where our next generation of leaders needs mentoring, guidance and encouragement.

3. Student members are our future! The Western District has made it a priority to provide quality programs and activities to involve the ‘best and the brightest’ transportation students. We need to build on these successes by helping students develop the skills they need to enter the workforce.

4. Expand the network of transportation professionals through partnerships with other organizations. We need to continue to reach out and share our technical expertise with others who can help broaden our perspective on global issues that affect transportation.

5. Recognize volunteer efforts as a valuable resource within ITE. We can never show enough appreciation and acknowledgement of service for those who have devoted endless hours behind the scenes to make this a great profession and organization.

Thanks for your past support and I look forward to representing the Western District once again to help make ITE the ‘organization of choice’ of transportation professionals. Show your support of ITE by voting, and once again, please VOTE FOR GROTE!