Election packets to be mailed on or around April 13; results announced May 13
Ballots for the election of three directors on the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) board are set to be mailed on or around April 13, 2017. LPEA directors represent their geographic districts and help determine current and future policy at the electric cooperative. Election results will be announced during the LPEA Annual Meeting, May 13, 2017.
“We encourage our members to be involved,” said Mike Dreyspring, LPEA CEO. “We are facing exciting challenges in the industry, and we need to be thoughtful and conscientious as we explore our options going forward. This election is very important. We encourage LPEA members to get to know the candidates in their district and vote.”
In accordance with LPEA’s bylaws, annually one seat in each of LPEA’s four districts comes up for election. This year in District 1 (Archuleta County), incumbent candidate Bob Lynch is the only nominee, thus the election in that district will be cancelled and Lynch will retain his seat.
[Please note: Candidate statements are included at the end of this release.]
The approximately 8,620 LPEA members in District 2, south and west La Plata County, will select between incumbent Davin Montoya and new candidate Kim Martin.
In District 3 (City of Durango), two new candidates will vie for the seat vacated by retiring incumbent Jeff Berman: R. Michael Bell and Rachel Landis. District 3 includes approximately 8,045 eligible voters.
District 4 members have an option to vote for one of two: incumbent Joe Wheeling or new candidate Guinn Unger. More than 7,886 eligible voters are in District 4, which covers north and east La Plata County, including part of Bayfield.
Ballots must be received by 4 p.m., Friday, May 12 at the La Plata County Clerk’s office (Bodo Park). The Clerk’s office is the independent, third-party retained by LPEA to tally the ballots utilizing La Plata County’s official ballot counting equipment. Ballots may also be dropped off at LPEA’s offices in Durango or Pagosa Springs, the La Plata County Administration office in Downtown Durango, Farmer’s Fresh in Ignacio and Bayfield Town Hall, or mailed by May 9 to ensure timely delivery at the County Clerk’s office.
If not voting prior to the meeting, members can bring their ballots to the Annual Meeting at Sky Ute Casino and Resort in Ignacio on May 13. Registration for the Annual Meeting begins at 9 a.m., with the business meeting to commence at 10:30 a.m. Any member voting at the Annual Meeting must do so prior to 10:30 a.m.
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, visit www.lpea.coop.
One candidate will be elected to represent District 2,
South and West La Plata County
Davin Montoya (incumbent)
“A balanced approach has great benefit. We all come to things with different backgrounds and perspectives. I’m proud of my family’s ranching heritage in La Plata County, and I’m equally proud to have served the diverse membership of LPEA.
“LPEA is in transition, with new employees and board members. There is value to having the historical perspective – not to say things can’t be done differently now – but historical perspective helps ensure mistakes of the past aren’t repeated. I now fill that role at LPEA.
“A director needs to seriously commit to being a director, and benefit our electric co-op. Directors need to be present, well-informed, and that I have done for you. This past year I served as president, a responsibility I took on to help tighten LPEA’s budget and ensure expenses remained prudent.
“Surveys indicate that affordable and reliable electricity remain priorities. But we also know LPEA needs to embrace new technology, and we’re doing that – and I’m helping ensure that LPEA does not gamble on unproven practices. That said, I want to help our less fortunate members, and I was gratified that we helped provide a solar array last year for a low income housing development, funded by our local green power program. I’m equally proud that our board committed unclaimed capital credits to build a new geosciences, physics and engineering building at Fort Lewis College.
“Balancing historical perspective and fiscal responsibility with an eye on embracing the future is my position as your director at LPEA.”
“I am running for the LPEA Board to offer residents in District 2 an alternative way to look at the opportunities we have. Our current representative has served eight terms (24 years) as our district’s representative. I will bring a fresh perspective to the issues LPEA faces.
“I am committed to using my work and board experience to:
“I will bring my forty years of board, business, governmental, and not-for-profit experience to the LPEA Board. Currently I serve on the Durango 9R School Board as the elected representative for a large portion of LPEA’s District 2, and am also on the Fort Lewis College Foundation Board. In La Plata County, I’ve also been on Boards of Directors for League of Women Voters, Tri-States Headstart, Rivergate Planned Development, and the Advisory Board for Music in the Mountains. We’ve owned our Dryside property for the past 40+ years and have lived there for 17 years, most of which I’ve been a member of the Marvel Grange.
“My lifelong work is primarily in the fields of education and law, but I’ve also owned two businesses. My formal education culminated with a MA in the Political Economy of the Asian Pacific Region.”
One candidate will be elected to represent District 3,
City of Durango
R. Michael Bell
“I am running for the LPEA Board of Directors because I believe affordable electricity should be available to all members of the cooperative. Having lived in Durango for 42 years and worked as the Managing Principal of my architectural firm for 35 years, I understand the challenges of running a successful business in our area of Colorado. I believe my business experience and community service involvement provide me with the qualifications to represent the members of La Plata Electric Association as a Director. Both my professional work and my volunteer activities have allowed me to expand my knowledge and understanding of the people in La Plata County and the wide variations in their points of view and convictions. Having served on a variety of Boards over the years, I have learned to openly listen to and consider all perspectives and ideas before formulating a final decision on each topic.
“For the past year and a half, I have attended monthly LPEA Board meetings and am therefore familiar with the issues currently being addressed by the Board. If elected, I would make every effort to provide affordable and dependable electricity for all members of the cooperative. I support all energy sources that demonstrate responsible conservation and concern for our environment. As a Director, I will abide by the Association's bylaws and will work to support the Board, staff, members and associated organizations to help keep LPEA financially strong and accountable to its members.
“As an LPEA District 3 Director Candidate, I am committed to serving you, the member, by advocating that LPEA address climate change on a local level, by fighting to keep electricity rates low, and by working to keep our energy dollars local. To support our community’s health and climate security, I will push LPEA to decrease electricity-related emissions. Additionally, I will sponsor new renewable energy projects and work to expand existing consumer energy efficiency opportunities, such as LPEA’s Net Metering and Time-of-Use programs. I also support a shift to greater energy independence which would provide LPEA members increased control over energy rates and also incentivize local, clean-energy development that keep our energy dollars local and create jobs.
“As the Coordinator of the Environmental Center at Fort Lewis College, my forward-thinking leadership, expertise in managing sustainability projects and deep community engagement make me uniquely qualified to meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities presented by our rapidly shifting energy sector. I have experience in sustainability-related business management, policy drafting, infrastructure design, fiduciary oversight and operational support. Through fifteen years of organizational leadership experience, I have become adept at balancing business acumen while upholding an organization’s mission and being responsive to stakeholder needs. I am excited to bring my collaborative leadership style to the Board and engage in partnerships that support collective regional goals, such as the City of Durango’s Climate & Energy Action Plan. I look forward to serving you for the next three years.”
One candidate will be elected to represent District 4,
North and East La Plata County
“I am running for the LPEA Board of Directors because I want to make LPEA a leader in clean, renewable and locally produced energy. Buying an extremely high percentage of our electricity generated by burning coal does not make sense if we want to keep our electric rates low. LPEA can be more aggressive in promoting local generation of energy, particularly solar, which will keep jobs in our area, keep electricity prices low, and drastically lower carbon emissions. Coal has become the most expensive and dirtiest fuel, and if we are serious about fighting climate change, we need to quickly move away from this outdated energy source. I will work hard to make sure that as we transition away from coal we are purchasing our energy locally and keeping our monthly bills low.
“Having grown up in a military family and served 28 years in the US Army Reserve, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel, I believe in serving my country and my community. After graduating from Rice University with a degree in Electrical Engineering I chose to serve our country working on the NASA Space Shuttle Program. After leaving NASA, I founded two small businesses and served as a consultant in Corporate America. I promise to dedicate my efforts and my skills to work for my community and make the changes to LPEA that will enable us to do our part to fight climate change at the local level, create local jobs from renewable sources and keep our energy costs low.”
Joe Wheeling (incumbent)
“I have been an elected member of LPEA’s board for nine years. In that time, I have been trusted with several roles within the cooperative and as a delegate to outside entities.
“As chairperson of FastTrack Communications, a subsidiary of LPEA, it’s our mission to bring high-speed Internet to the entire region. In the last three years we have made great gains and now our focus is building fiber to Bayfield and Forest Lakes.
“As LPEA’s delegate to Tri-State G&T I have seen Tri-State make significant gains in its use of renewable energy sources including having 25% of their power generation come from solar, wind and hydro-generation facilities. I have voted for five wind farms and three large-scale solar generation facilities in my tenure.
“With a background in business and an MBA in finance and strategy, I have experience balancing complex decisions with common sense solutions. I believe in taking a moderate, practical and honest stance with decisions and encourage LPEA to find solutions that are fair for all members.
“As a partner in James Ranch Beef, by being a trusted source of chemical free food, I have continued the family’s commitment to the stewardship of our environment, as well as the preservation of Animas Valley’s open space through our conservation easements on James Ranch.
“I am proud to be a member of this family, this community and this electrical cooperative and, with your vote, would be honored to serve you in this time of revolutionary change.”