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  • Berman, Wheeling and Fox receive most votes in LPEA director election

    5/15/2011

    Four proposed amendments to the cooperative bylaws also pass  

    DURANGO, Colo. – Incumbent board members Jeff Berman and Joe Wheeling have been re-elected by La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) member-consumers to fill director seats for Districts 3 and 4, respectively, with Ken Fox elected as a new director in District 1. Election results were announced at the LPEA Annual Meeting, held Saturday, May 14, 2011 at Sky Ute Casino and Resort, Ignacio.

    Voters from all four of LPEA’s districts also overwhelmingly passed the four proposed bylaw amendments on the ballot, the majority of which were necessitated to put LPEA in compliance with new Colorado state statues.

    “The re-election of the incumbent directors, as well as the relatively low return of ballots is actually a vote of confidence for the cooperative,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “Because we are a cooperative we truly want our members to vote, but history has shown us that when our members are generally satisfied with the job we’re doing, our election returns are lower. That holds true in local, state and federal elections as well.”

    Typically, according to Munro, LPEA receives an average 20 percent return during elections. This year, approximately 14 percent of member-consumers cast ballots.

    In accordance with LPEA’s bylaws, annually one seat in each of LPEA’s four districts comes up for election. The 2011 director election in Districts 2 (west and south La Plata County) was officially cancelled by board action, as incumbent board member Davin Montoya had no challengers. Pursuant to Article III, Section 5 of the bylaws, Montoya has been reappointed to his seat for the next three years.

    With the retirement of Director Harry Cole in District 1, LPEA members in Archuleta County selected Ken Fox as their new representative. Of the 1,081 members who returned ballots, 615 members voted for Fox, with challengers Brad Carey and J.B. (James B.) Smith receiving 316 and 150 votes, respectively. District 1 contains approximately 7,500 eligible voters.

    In District 3, which is essentially the City of Durango, candidates Andrew Klotz and John David (Dave) Nulton challenged incumbent Jeff Berman for his seat. Of the 1,220 votes cast, Berman received 672, Nulton 388 and Klotz 160. District 3 includes approximately 7,200 eligible voters.

    District 4 incumbent Joe Wheeling faced challengers Dave Ganevsky, Padraig Lynch and Paul Stuart. Of the approximately 7,500 eligible voters in District 4, which covers north and east La Plata County, 1,205 members cast votes and Wheeling received 849. Ganevsky, Lynch and Stuart received 172, 122 and 62 votes, respectively.

    Ballots were prepared in accordance with requirements of the La Plata County Clerk, and the county’s electronic voting equipment was used by FredrickZink & Associates, the independent accounting firm retained to tally the votes.

    New District 1 director Fox, currently an active member of the Archuleta County community, is retired from the U.S. Air Force where he held various command and staff positions throughout his career. A Pagosa Springs resident for more than 23 years, he has applied his experience and talents to agencies ranging from the Archuleta County Airport Authority and Archuleta Board of County Commissioners to the Area Agency on Aging and the Archuleta County District 50 JT School Board. He was co-owner and partner of K and K Aviation, Inc., and served as Archuleta County Airport manager. Raised in Tucson, Ariz., Fox earned a BA in political science from the University of Arizona and a Masters in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in addition to his studies with Air Command and Staff College with the USAF.

    District 3 director Berman, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., holds a BS with honors in electrical engineering from the University of Florida. A conservationist who has served on the LPEA Board since 2005, Berman is an advocate for greater clean energy and energy efficiency programs. As a member of the board, Berman supported establishment of clean energy installation rebates, a progressive net-metering policy, 4CORE (a non-profit that assists members in the identification of, financing, and implementation of energy efficiency measures), and other policies. He is former executive director of Colorado Wild and founder and former CEO of San Juan Bioenergy. He is also a founding member of the Southwest Colorado Renewable Energy Society (now Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado).

    Joe Wheeling is a part of the family enterprise that is The James Ranch. Grounded in sustainable resource management, environmentally sound enterprises, and the support of the local community, Wheeling grew up on a ranch in North Dakota where he learned early on about rural electric cooperatives as his grandfather was instrumental in creation of McKenzie Rural Electric Association, the cooperative that served the family farm. He went on to earn a BS from Colorado State University and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. His corporate experience includes management consulting for Deloitte & Touche, where he worked primarily with utilities, and CEO with Red Roof Inns. Wheeling brought this strong business background back to Durango for the benefit of both James Ranch and LPEA. He currently serves as LPEA’s treasurer and the representative to Tri-State Generation and Transmission, LPEA’s power supplier.

    “As a company, LPEA exists to serve its members. Everyone has an economic interest and voice in LPEA’s future,” said Munro. “We thank those who cast their votes and took time to participate in the cooperative process.”

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 40,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, contact LPEA at 970.247.5786 or visit www.lpea.coop.

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