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Now that Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s annual election is over, REC’s public relations staff will be working overtime to ensure that REC members know that Eric Paulson was chosen by member-owners to be the next Region VIII board member (Hanover and Goochland Counties). In fact, it was REC’s incumbent board that selected Paulson as the winner, not really the co-op’s member-owners.
In a five-way race, Hanover County businessman Roddy Mitchell received more than twice as many direct member-owner votes as any of the four other candidates.
But REC’s confusing proxy-voting process allowed REC’s board toallocate an additional 6,049 votes to the board members’ favored candidate, Mr. Paulson. He actually came in fourth out of five in votes that were designated by co-op members.
When an incumbent board controls thousands of votes in a board election, it’s the board, not co-op members, that effectively controls the election outcome. Imagine our local school board or board of supervisors being selected that way! No one would stand for it. Vladimir Putin would be proud of REC’s board for controlling an election so thoroughly! You can see the vote tally at https://www.myrec.coop/sites/myrec/files/documents/Governance%20Center/21-REC_Final%20Tally%20Certified.pdf
Every year REC’s incumbent board controls election outcomes through thousands of blank (“undesignated”) proxies. The way to win an REC board election is to “get along, go along,” with the incumbent board, not to get the most votes from member-owners. That isn’t fair or democratic. No wonder incumbent REC board members stay in their well-paid positions for decades or even for life.