A day in the life of a CCEC director

Your vote is important! Please attend CCEC’s annual meeting on April 19 at Scheels Arena. Director elections are an important part of our annual meeting. Make your voice heard! 

The following is from Highline Notes – March 2012 – Editorial, by Scott Handy

Most people have a boss. I have nine bosses – the elected board of directors for Cass County Electric Cooperative. Sometimes it’s a challenge trying to balance the desires of so many people, but in reality I think I have a pretty good deal compared to them. You see, each director in turn is responsible to about 36,000 cooperative members, an average of 4,000 bosses per director.

That’s how the chain of command works at a cooperative. The members are the highest authority. The members elect a representative board, which provides the overall direction and governance of the cooperative. The board then hires and oversees a person to be the chief executive, who is responsible for the day to day operations of the cooperative within the boundaries set by the board and by law. The chief executive hires a staff of capable employees to carry out all the various duties that need to happen every day to provide members with abundant, reliable and affordable electricity.

Most people have a pretty good idea of what a CEO is, and what various other employees do from day to day. But directors are perhaps a little less well-known and understood.

Directors are pretty brave individuals. They need to convince at least 15 other members in their district to sign a petition nominating them to be a candidate in a director election. Then the candidates have to convince enough members to come to the annual meeting and vote for them such that they get at least one more vote than the next candidate. This involves campaigning before the meeting and then making a three-minute speech in front of hundreds of people. Brave indeed!

I’m writing about the director election process because we have something happening at the annual meeting on April 19 that I think is a first for CCEC: nine candidates are vying for a single open position. You can read the sketches of each candidate in this issue. The new at-large position created by the re-districting process has certainly created a lot of interest. Additionally, three incumbent directors are running unopposed in their own districts.

The challenges of getting elected seem pretty daunting, but the hard work only begins at that point for the successful candidate. They’ve signed up for a lot more work than attending a monthly board meeting. We expect each director to become proficient in many aspects of the electric utility industry, especially those relating to finance and policy. Each director gets a package of material of at least 100 pages, and they are expected to have read through it all before coming to the monthly meeting. They’re also expected to periodically attend meetings of our power supply system and state and national associations and bring that knowledge back to the board room. Extensive training opportunities are provided at both the state and national level, and most directors achieve certification as a Credentialed Cooperative Director.

We’ve historically had a very progressive and thoughtful board at CCEC. Many of them serve on other distinguished boards as well. Some are former legislators. Some have served, and currently serve, on the boards of our national electric cooperative organizations. Some are county commissioners. All are dedicated to working hard to make sure CCEC is faithful to its mission and is meeting the needs and desires of its members. I’m proud to serve under such a board, and proud that an opportunity to serve on it has attracted so much interest. Good luck to the candidates, and please come to the annual meeting on April 19 to cast your vote.

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