BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Conley Ward, a former member of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission and chairman of the state Democratic Party, has died. He was 66. Family members say Ward died Monday at his home in Kuna. Former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus called Ward a leading and influential voice on state and regional energy issues for more than 40 years.

Andrus also praised Ward's concern for the common man, a trait Andrus said made Ward an effective regulator. The Idaho Statesman reports that Ward advised Idaho's rural telephone companies in the creation of Syringa Networks in 2002, the company that provides broadband services to rural Idaho. Ward served on the PUC from 1977-86. A lawyer and partner at Givens Pursley in Boise, Ward led the Democratic Party from 1987-2000.