White River Valley Electric Cooperative does everything with our members in mind. You are not just customers, but members who own and control the organization. That’s why we want to share some information you will need before voting at the 2020 Annual Meeting. Voting is your right and responsibility as a member, and participation is key to our success.
Since the last annual meeting, we formed the Bylaws, Governance, and Engagement Committee to help evaluate what we do at the cooperative in order to provide best-in-class service for our members.
After closely reviewing our bylaws, there are three amendments that will be presented to the membership for a vote. These amendments are part of an effort to improve our governance practices and better represent the entire membership.
The first bylaw amendment will ask if you are in favor of adding secure, electronic voting and mail-in ballots to cast your vote. Currently, a nine-seat board of directors represents your voice as a member. Members must attend the Annual Meeting, in-person, to vote for those directors. We always encourage attendance, but we understand sometimes life gets in the way. As it stands now, those in-person votes represent less than five percent of the total membership and we want everyone to have an opportunity to be heard.
Your “yes” vote on amendment one will improve member participation and make the voting process more convenient.
In the second amendment, you’ll be asked if you are in favor of making director nominations more open and easier to secure in advance of annual meeting. All candidates, whether they go through the nominating committee or run by petition, will file 60 days prior to annual meeting and nominations would not be accepted from the floor. This will ensure late entry candidates don’t miss out on potential votes for those who may have voted prior to the meeting.
Candidates choosing to run by petition, instead of the going through the nominating committee, will only have to obtain 15 signatures versus the previous five percent of the district. In some areas, that five percent accounts for over 2,000 signatures. In addition, the final list of candidates will be sent out to the membership earlier. This will allow more time to study up on potential directors before the vote.
Voting “yes” on this amendment will make it easier to run for the board and gives you an opportunity to learn about all potential candidates before the meeting.
The final amendment will ask if you are in favor of clarifying membership as the member’s signed and accepted membership application, established account, and subsequent purchase of electricity.
Unlike elections for public officials, cooperative voting is not tied to each person – it is tied to a membership account. One membership account equals one vote. Memberships can be more than a residential home. They are also businesses, churches, neighborhood associations, even volunteer fire departments. A principal must represent each of those memberships to vote.
A “yes” on amendment three will clarify what constitutes a membership and who can vote in cooperative elections.
It is important to remember that your “YES” vote on all three amendments will prepare our co-op for the future and help us to be more transparent and inclusive to all members. You can find the proposed changes in full on our website at https://www.whiteriver.org/about-us/media-room/board-of-directors/proposed-bylaw-changes/.
We appreciate your support and participation!