(spot)Light: Aaron McCartney, Accounting Technician

The Basics  
Years of service: 14+ years 
Division: Customer Operations 
Role: I lead the Refund and Transfer desk for the utility’s Account Control team. It’s pretty humdrum, but it gets busy at the end of July because that’s when we process the annual utility credit reimbursements. We’ll send refund checks to approximately 16,000 customers enrolled in the Utility Discount Program (UDP) this year. The refunds help many low-income customers, and with COVID and the number of unemployed people, it’s timely assistance. The process usually runs from July to October. This year we are piloting automation so that in the future, we can send the money without it taking thousands of hours as it has in the past. 

Background  
Hometown: I grew up splitting my time between my father’s place in Shelton and the house he and my mother built while she was pregnant with me on Fox Island. 
Tell us about your family: My family has been in Western Washington for five generations. Marvin Horton McCartney, a logger, moved here when the trees were large enough only one could fit on a truck. McCartney Peak is allegedly named after him for winning a drinking contest. My maternal grandfather, Kenneth Shannon Hansen, was born in Everett and was one of the people who laid the first power lines on the Olympic Peninsula. My Uncle Chuck was one of Seattle’s first punk rock icons as “Upchuck” or “Charles Garish.” My great uncle had a radio program in the ‘50s for bluegrass music. My father is a musician who organizes open mics on the Kitsap Peninsula to bring the community together. He and my mother were a part of the Love Israel Family in the early ‘70s on Queen Anne. They were also founding members of Victory Music. I spent many weekends collating and assembling the Victory Music Review or hanging out at the Antique Sandwich Company in Tacoma. My grandfather and grandmother Marvin Milo McCartney and Birdie McCartney were members of The Washington State Dahlia Association and sold ceramics made with Mount St. Helens’ ash.  
 
As for my immediate family, though, I am single and surround myself with a diverse cast of characters artists, music execs, jongleurs, flahoolers, and all types of eccentrics 

Just for Fun  
What are some of your favorite activities/hobbies? I love going to live music shows. I also do volunteer work and community service as a founding member of the Sisters of the Mother House of Washington. When doing that, I am known as Sister Angela Merici. We help the homeless through clothing and food drives and distributing meals. We are working on starting a monthly needle exchange in Seattle. I also enjoy hiking and walking around different parks or wandering around South Park, where I live. 
What was your first job, and what did you do? I had two jobs when I was 16. I worked as a waiter and prep cook at The Capital Restaurant in downtown Shelton. I also worked for a small independent contractor building houses. I learned everything from pouring the foundation to running the wires and hooking them up to the breaker box at the end and everything in between. 
Who was your favorite music artist growing up?  I had a few I loved: The Dead Kennedys, Glenn Miller, Sandy Bradley, the Small Wonder Twins, Magical Strings (a local hammered dulcimer duo), The Fags (one of the punk bands my uncle fronted), Weird Al, and Tchaikovsky. 
If you could have dinner with one person, living or deceased, who would it be and why? Saint Angela Merici. She was a nun in Italy in the mid-1500s who defied the pope and started the tradition of educating women for free. Her group was known as the Company of Ursula, which later became the Ursuline order. Her teachings connect to education and allow others to chart their path even if it seems problematic. She believed that allowing an individual to make a voluntary change is easier to sustain than forced change, often resulting in backlash.  
What do you like most about your role? I like that I help people out, especially with the UDP refunds. It is generally nice to help people get their money back. I also like my coworkers. The people in Account Control work diligently and do a lot of behind-the-scenes work – things like correcting addresses, finding misapplied payments, and organizing account information, correspondence, refunds, transfers. Our workgroup has around 40 different tasks that eight people accomplish.