In just a few days all Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) members will receive the July issue of REC’s Cooperative Living magazine. This is an important issue because it has the proxy form that is used each year to vote for REC’s board of directors. And since the current board continues to demonstrate that it’s not interested in engaging with our campaign to bring transparency and democracy back to our co-op, your vote is important.
But unfortunately, as we’ve described in our fact sheet and detailed memo, REC’s elections are not truly democratic, and the election process is far from transparent. That’s one reason why we launched the Repower REC campaign. Many REC board elections are uncontested, perhaps reflecting co-op members’ awareness that the election process is subtly designed to allow the board, rather than REC members, to determine election outcomes. And even when a board seat is contested, REC provides so little information about the candidates that it’s often impossible to know candidates’ views on important issues facing the co-op.
Adding insult to injury, REC’s board seeks to block REC members from having a chance to vote on modest, common-sense reforms to improve our electric co-op’s transparency and democracy.
We’ll write again soon with additional thoughts and positive next steps you can take to restore the transparency and democracy to your electric cooperative after we’ve seen the July proxy form. But in the meantime, don’t throw away your proxy form when your July issue of Cooperative Living arrives in your mailbox.
Even if REC again this year fails to provide its members with sufficient information to allow anyone to cast an informed vote, you can still participate in the election by voting to abstain.
You could also do what we plan to do–write the words “democracy” and “transparency” on your proxy form, to send a message to REC’s board. (Be sure to write them in a way that doesn’t obscure important parts of the form.) Please don’t send in a signed but blank proxy, because that allows the REC board to cast your vote for you, and if we’re going to reform REC, we need to put voting control back where it belongs–in the hands of REC members.