While the national elections of the past November may be fading from your memory, voting for politicians is not the only way we as co-op members can practice democracy.
Every co-op, whether it’s Nodak Electric Cooperative, your credit union, or a farm cooperative, follows the basic principle of democratic member control. Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policy and making decisions. All these cooperatives work on the same system of one member, one vote. Most often, you are asked to vote and elect individuals who will represent you on the board of directors. These folks are your friends, neighbors and may even be you!
Any member in good standing of the co-op can run for the board. Of our nine board members, three are elected each year at our annual meeting in April, which means with only a few exceptions all members have the opportunity to run for the board each year. This year, we again have three director positions up for election; however, one of our incumbent directors has chosen not to seek reelection. That means we will certainly have at least one new board member when the election is finished. Will it be you?
Being a member of the co-op’s board is an incredibly important position. A director’s decisions impact issues such as service, rates, work plans and bylaws. These positions hold great responsibility and require men and women who understand our communities’ needs and serve the cooperative members’ best interests.
If you or someone you know is interested in hearing more about how to run for a seat on your cooperative’s board of directors, contact us at the headquarters in Grand Forks and we’ll help you through the process. Even if you choose not to have that level of participation, you should all feel empowered to reach out to current board members and candidates, or encourage your friends and neighbors to participate. When our members are actively involved with the cooperative, we are all better off.
As a cooperative, we invite our members to take an active role. In fact, it is critically important to the survival of the cooperative business model that we use our voices to be heard on the issues that matter to us.
The cooperative business model is a great one – it fosters engagement and creates strong communities. Over 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized this value when he 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 profits based on their use of the cooperative. It develops individual responsibility and has a moral, as well as financial value.”
Those words are more true today than ever before. Let your voice be heard and take the time to participate in your cooperative’s election and your cooperative’s board of directors.
In closing, I’d like to thank Director Lee McLaughlin for his 25 years of dedication to the Nodak board of directors. His countless contributions have been invaluable in making Nodak what it is today. We wish him luck in his next adventure, and extend our heartfelt thank you for his service on our board.