Every four years, the presidential election motivates U.S. citizens, well, roughly 50-60% of them, to fulfill their civic duty to vote. Meanwhile voter turnout at the local level garners a much lower turnout, between 15-27% of eligible voters.
This is unfortunate because local elections matter. From taxes to education, the issues that affect your day-to-day life are decided at the local level. This includes your electric cooperative. One of the Seven Cooperative Principles calls upon your electric co-op to work for the sustainable development of the communities it serves through policies supported by the membership. To support those policies and your co-op, it’s important you attend and vote at your co-op’s annual meeting. I would also suggest, you seriously contemplate running for an open seat on your co-op’s board of trustees.
I don’t make this suggestion lightly. It’s a decision that requires thoughtful consideration and an understanding of the requirements of serving as a trustee in the complex utility industry. As a previous member of the Kansas House of Representatives, representing the 47th district for nearly 10 years, I understand the seriousness of committing your time to serving others for the greater good. It’s extremely rewarding, especially if you are prepared to invest time into learning more about the issues and actively engaging in the business of the co-op.
I’m addressing this topic now because within the local co-op pages of this issue of Kansas Country Living beginning on Page 16A, several Kansas electric co-ops have started communicating about their 2022 annual meetings and trustee elections. Depending on the co-op, one or more trustee positions will be up for election or reelection and the co-ops are seeking consumer-members to consider running for these positions.
The most common response when current co-op trustees were asked why they decided to run for their co-op’s board was that they wanted to give back to the community. . At their core, co-ops function like small communities, with each person playing their part in improving the lives of everyone around them.
If sharing your knowledge and time with your community is on your 2022 resolutions list or even your bucket list, I encourage you to play a role in a democratic, member-controlled organization that works for the sustainable development of your community.
More than 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The cooperative is the best plan of organization. Under this plan, every business is [governed by a board], every person has one vote and only one vote. Everyone gets ‘money back’ based on their use of the co-op. It develops individual responsibility and has a moral as well as a financial value.”
Those words are timeless. I urge you to take the time to participate in the business of your co-op, whether attending annual meetings and other co-op events, voting in trustee elections or “throwing your hat into the ring.”
The beauty of belonging to a co-op is that every consumer-member has a voice, but you must use that voice if you want to be heard on the issues that matter to you.