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January 6th, 2009
PEC examines election rules revisions


The constantly reforming Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is considering further changes to its electoral process after an open election last year nonetheless drew criticism.

The cooperative is inviting its members to a special meeting of its governance and oversight committee on Jan. 12 to discuss some of the proposed changes. The meeting will run from 6-8 p.m. at PEC headquarters, located at 201 South Avenue F in Johnson City.

During the last 18 months, co-op members have led an effort to democratize PEC’s board elections process and to stop fraudulent spending and mismanagement by the cooperative’s leadership. Among the first reforms was a measure to remove the nomination process from a committee appointed by the board and place it in the hands of co-op members.

However, the process provided for the 2008 election created a free-for-all, especially in District 7, which mostly covers Hays County. The District 7 election drew 20 candidates, each of whom needed only to collect 25 signatures for inclusion on the ballot. Patrick Cox of Wimberley won the seat, despite being selected on only 15 percent of 28,798 ballots cast.

So, PEC’s governance and oversight committee is looking at six possible revisions to its elections procedure.

Under present PEC bylaws, for example, votes are allocated based on the number of meters in a member’s name. A proposal under review would limit each member to one vote per election regardless of the number of meters.

Presently, the qualifying rules say directors are required to receive electric service in the district for which they seek election, but they do not require such candidates to actually live in that district. A proposal under consideration would stipulate that any director must maintain a primary residence in the district he or she represents.

Last year’s board election especially drew jeers for the low threshold for going on the ballot. With candidates needing only to collect 25 signatures, 58 candidates wound up running for five seats. Under a proposal being considered, potential nominees would have to gather more signatures, with the specific number yet to be determined.

The geography for PEC has changed considerably since 1975, when it drew up the present district map. Today, the various district range from a population of 14,000 in District 1 to 64,000 in District 3. A proposal under consideration would re-draw the district map to balance out the seven districts.

Another howler from the 2008 election provided that anyone could vote in all of the various districts, meaning any of the cooperative’s 227,000 members over PEC’s 8,100-square-mile area could vote in every district election. Thus, for example, a member living in Bertram could vote in an election to see who represents Kyle. A proposal under consideration would allow members to vote only for the directors from their own districts.

Finally, the present bylaws require PEC to have seven advisory directors, one from each district. Advisory Directors perform duties as prescribed by the board of directors, but they don’t have the right to vote. A proposal under review could either increase or decrease the number of advisory directors, while more clearly defining their duties.

The governing and oversight committee conducting next week’s meeting consists of District 7 Director Dr. Patrick Cox, Advisory Director-at-Large Lamont Ramage and District 2 Advisory Director Rusty Allen.

The event will include a presentation regarding the six possible revisions. Members will have the opportunity to complete a related feedback form. PEC said the board will take that feedback into account at its Jan. 26 meeting, when it will decide what changes, if any, it will implement for its June 2009 elections. Any changes must be approved by two-thirds of the board.

In addition to the feedback form that will be distributed at the event, PEC is asking for input from members before the forum, as well. Members may e-mail suggestions before Jan. 12 for improving Board elections to, or mail suggestions before Jan. 12 to Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Governance and Oversight Committee; P.O. Box 1; Johnson City, Texas, 78636-0001.

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