On Friday, June 22, Shelby Energy had their first contested election for a Board of Directors’ election in their 75-year history. I was not successful in my attempt to be elected to the District III (Carroll and Trimble County) seat. The vote totals from the ballots cast at the meeting were 84 for Randy Stevens, the incumbent, and 75 for me. The proxy votes mailed into the Shelby Energy Offices totaled 940 and 8 proxies turned in were designated to be voted for Sonia McElroy. The Shelby Energy Board met and decided to vote the 940 proxies for Mr. Stevens making his final vote 1,024 and mine 83.
I want to thank the following individuals that supported me in running for the board position: those that assisted me in getting petitions signed, the 169 members that signed the petition, those that turned out to vote for me, the people that showed up last Friday with signed proxies that were not allowed to be counted, the Sierra Club and Sierra Club members, the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and their members, those that were there with me while I campaigned in the entrance to the Henry County High School for two hours and the Shelby Energy Credentials and Election Committee.
In the future, the Shelby Energy bylaws would need to be revised to allow for a fair and democratic process when electing board members. The proxy system only serves to keep the current board members in their positions. I would advocate for a process that allows the Shelby Energy Cooperative members to know well in advance who is running, what their qualifications are, and does away with the current proxy system but allows mail in voting.
I realize that it takes time and training (a costly financial investment) for a Board Member to gain the knowledge necessary to competently participate in the monthly Board Meetings and to make the best decisions for the cooperative. However, while I am not saying that Board Members should be changed every three years, I also feel that there should be limits to the number of years that a Director can serve. I seriously question the effectiveness of individuals serving on the Board of Directors for 36, 25 or 21 years, or for individuals that had previously served for more than 45 years.
I will continue to work for open meetings; clean, efficient, and affordable energy; fair and democratic elections; and a Member’s Bill of Rights. I encourage all Shelby Energy Cooperative members to become more aware of the individuals representing you and the decisions being made, after all they work for you.