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By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
Proving once again that every vote counts, results of director elections in three of four districts of La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) were announced at the electric cooperative’s annual meeting, Thursday, May 22, at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. Incumbents Jeff Berman and Joe Wheeling retained their seats in Districts 3 and 4, respectively, with new candidate Bob Lynch unseating incumbent Ken Fox in District 1.
In accordance with LPEA’s bylaws, annually one seat in each of LPEA’s four districts comes up for election. This year in District 2, incumbent director Davin Montoya was the only nominee, thus he retains his seat.
Out of the 23,092 ballots mailed, 5,801 LPEA members cast votes for an approximately 25 percent return. This is up from the 22.5 percent ballot return in 2013, but less than the approximately 26 percent of LPEA’s residential and commercial members who cast votes in 2012.
In a very close decision in District 1, Archuleta County, 1,767 of the approximately 7,800 LPEA members returned ballots with incumbent Fox receiving 874 votes and challenger Lynch receiving 893.
In District 3, Durango incumbent Berman received 1,070 votes with challenger Bill Waters receiving 988 votes. District 3 includes approximately 7,500 voters.
Incumbent Wheeling received 1,170 votes to challenger Alison Dance’s 806 in District 4, which covers north and east La Plata County and includes approximately 7,750 eligible voters.
Ballots were prepared in accordance with requirements of the La Plata County Clerk, and the county’s electronic voting equipment was used by FredrickZink and Associates, the independent accounting firm retained to tally the votes.
Some 350 people joined in the LPEA annual meeting festivities at the Concert Hall, with 272 voting members registering. Pre-event festivities included a sumptuous spread from Kennebec Café and live music from Tim Sullivan and Narrow Gauge.
In special celebration of its 75th Anniversary, LPEA welcomed Ted Case as keynote speaker, who offered an overview of his book “Power Plays,” which explores the defining moments in the relationship between electric co-ops and the U.S. presidents throughout the decades.
Additionally, comments were presented by Kent Singer, executive director of Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA), the trade association supporting the rural electric cooperatives in Colorado, and Mike McInnes, interim executive vice president/general manager of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, LPEA’s primary power supplier. Reports were also given by LPEA treasurer Joe Wheeling and attorney Barry Spear.
“As a rural electric cooperative, LPEA exists to serve its members. Everyone has an economic interest and voice in LPEA’s future,” said CEO Greg Munro, who was lauded during the meeting for his exemplary leadership of the cooperative. “We thank those who cast their votes and took time to participate in the cooperative process.”
Munro took the opportunity to bid farewell during the meeting, as he will retire this July.
The membership was given the opportunity at the end of the meeting to query the board on topics of concern, but no questions were posed.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the LPEA board of directors is Wednesday, June 18, beginning at 9 a.m. at LPEA’s headquarters, 45 Stewart St. (Bodo Park), Durango. Per the bylaws, officers will be elected.