Historic member vote decides director election; on-site meeting held
A historic number of Crawford Electric consumer-members voted in this year’s annual election of directors, even as the on-site meeting on Sept. 14 was the smallest in decades. There were 2,417 voting members this year, likely the highest number of voters in more than 50 years. Almost 94% of the total vote comes from the monthlong early voting period; 151 members voted in-person on Wednesday.
Voters decided to re-elect incumbent directors Jim Biermann and Gary Mullen and selected Janet Morrow as the newest member of the board of directors.
The cooperative contracted with Survey & Ballot Systems to conduct the early vote. When early voting concluded on Monday, Sept. 12, more than 250 members had voted by mail; 2,013 chose the online option, for a combined total of 2,266 voters. All early voters were automatically entered into a random drawing for electric credits. William and Corliss Butler of Sullivan won the early-vote grand prize of $500.
Online voters had an opportunity to participate in a survey, with almost 96% of responses indicating satisfaction with the process.
“This was easy to use and gave me the information I was looking for about each candidate,” one voter said. Biographical information about each director candidate is readily available to members before voting. “This is the first time I’ve voted because in the past I had to work during the picnic and voting. Voting online just makes sense and gets everyone involved much easier,” said another early voter.
After a two-year pandemic-caused hiatus, the in-person annual meeting of members resumed this year. Almost 375 members and guests attended, but nearly half had already voted in the director election. On-site balloting was facilitated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, which certified the votes of 151 attendees.
Morrow received a total of 1,150 votes to win the District 1 position vacated by retiring director Ken Crowder. Other District 1 contenders were Greg Pinnell, who received 784 votes, and AJ Bowers who garnered 438 votes. In District 2, incumbent Biermann won a close contest with Matt Dudley, 1,312 to 1,026 votes. District 3 incumbent director Mullen was unopposed in his re-election bid.
“We’re so thankful to have such supportive members,” said Laura Hengstenberg, who organizes and emcees the co-op’s annual meeting. “Their interest in voting is fantastic, and it was great to have people on-site again as well.”
During the in-person meeting, members enjoyed breakfast and a performance by local band Broken Ridge Revival. Attendees also participated in random drawings for prizes. Member Jane Luechtefeld of Leslie won the $300 electric credit grand prize.
In the business session, members approved Proposition A to amend the co-op’s bylaws to bring them into compliance with current laws and modern best practices relating to communications and voting methods. CEO/General Manager Tony Mallory offered remarks updating members about their cooperative. He also engaged in an open question-and-answer session with members on topics ranging from concerns about power supply, solar energy and electric vehicles to broadband internet access.
Crawford Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of locally owned, community-minded electric co-ops with high standards of service. Crawford Electric serves about 20,000 meters along almost 3,000 miles of distribution lines in Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Washington and Dent counties.