Newsroom

CO-OP MEMBER COMMITTEE PROPOSES CHANGES TO OPALCO ELECTION PROCESS

Members Can Review Recommendations at October Open House Events

At the September 16 meeting of the OPALCO Board of Directors in Friday Harbor, a volunteer Member Review Committee on Elections presented seven categories of recommendations for changes to OPALCO’s election process. Co-op members will have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed changes at a series of open house events scheduled October 6-11. The Board expects to make decisions at the October 20th board meeting with member feedback gathered at the open house events.

Board President Vince Dauciunas extended “gratitude and admiration to the Committee for their significant work” and stated that their recommendations would be given serious consideration. Dauciunas proposed a special meeting of the Board to discuss the timeline and practicalities for implementation, in order to enact changes for the 2017 election cycle. The special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 29th at 8:30am in the Eastsound OPALCO office and is open to Co-op Members.

The seven-member Committee representing all four voting districts met for six weeks to conduct this comprehensive review under the mission statement they wrote: To support a transparent election process that enables members to feel fairly and well represented. The Committee members are: Terry O’Sullivan, Co-Chair (Orcas), Wally Gudgell, Co-Chair (Orcas), Ed Sutton (Orcas), Doug Marshall (Orcas), Gabriel Jacobs (Shaw), Rob Thesman (Lopez) and Stephen Shubert (San Juan).

Following six weeks of meetings, healthy debate, comprehensive research and some input from members in each of their districts, the Committee reached consensus on the following categories of recommendations:

  1. Encourage more member interest in the cooperative and its election process. Several specific suggestions are offered, including formal district meetings.
  2. Elect five of the director positions by district and two at large, in order to encourage greater interest and promote member communications. Replace the present four districts with the same three districts used in County Council elections, and stagger the terms from each district (rather than electing all directors from each district during the same year), so that almost all members vote each year on at least one director position. Recommended transition steps are suggested.
  3. Create a standing Nominating Committee composed of 3 members from each from the three proposed voting districts, each with rotating 3 year terms. Recruit and nominate the best Board candidates, regardless of incumbency.
  4. Adjust the elections timeline to provide more time for nominating directors by petition (and update the required number of petition signers from 15 to 20); close voting earlier and allow only absentee ballots to create more time at the annual meeting for substantive discussion and activities.
  5. Obtain member feedback over the next year regarding the concept of having up to two additional director positions, to be elected by the sitting Board. The goal is to select individuals whose backgrounds would help the Board address our cooperative’s specific challenges.
  6. Review director compensation, and publicize the benefits of board service during the nominating process.
  7. Adopt a series of clarifying “housekeeping” changes to the provisions of the Bylaws that relate to elections.

Read the full Committee report.

Details on the Open House Events.