Rappahannock Electric Cooperative held its annual meeting last month and announced the results of the board election. While all three incumbents won, a full tally of the voting shows the vote was close. Importantly, but for the board’s use of its unfair blank proxy balloting system, a reform candidate would have won!
This is the first time in at least a decade that an incumbent’s challenger has earned more of what we call “real” votes than an incumbent. By “real” we mean votes other than blank proxies that the board uses to control elections.
Many REC members spoke about the confusing and unfair proxy ballot system during the meeting. They raised concerns about the level of transparency and accountability at REC as well. We knew from the beginning it would take a multi-year campaign to build strength to bring transparency, accountability, and fair elections back to our cooperative. It’s hard to win an election when your opponent has a 2,700+ vote head start.
The election results are a good time to highlight the many ways our reform campaign has already succeeded. We’ve gotten REC to disclose board compensation, audited financial statements, and election vote tallies. This information was not available to co-op members when we started. They could only get it if they knew to ask for it. They then had to sign an onerous form agreeing to pay damages to REC for unauthorized use of the information.
Now co-op members can find all this on REC’s website. We’ve also seen the Board back on its heels about its unfair proxy balloting system. This includes Board Member Chris Shipe making unfounded claims that the process is approved by the Virginia’s State Corporation Commission.
In the wake of the election, area media has continued the drumbeat of questions to the way REC operates. Check out these two pieces from the Winchester Star:
Ex-REC board member says group is ‘voting in their friends’
REC incumbents re-elected to board