Fellow PEC Members,
Tomorrow the 2015 PEC Board Director elections begin. You will have a little over two weeks to vote, either online or by mail, and the winners will be announced at the PEC Annual Meeting in Cedar Park on Saturday, June 20th. (For information on how to vote and who this year’s candidates are, CLICK HERE).
It is very important that you vote in the PEC Board Director elections. Our ability to vote in national, state, and local elections is one of our greatest American liberties, and we should exercise that liberty every chance we get. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “no one will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Sadly, too few people vote these days beyond National presidential elections, and as elections narrow the more local they become, the percentage of people voting also tends to drop dramatically. In the 2012 presidential elections, 64.8% of registered voters in Williamson County showed up to the polls. That is not a bad statistic and reflective of the importance of national elections. When it comes to local races in Williamson County, however, far fewer people are heading to the polls to elect their local representatives. Earlier this month, when residents in Williamson County had the chance to vote in municipal elections, only 4.82% of registered voters bothered to vote! That is just terrible. If we want our priorities reflected in our hometowns and cities, we have to take the time to get educated on those who wish to represent us. We have to then show up and vote for the people who seek to advance our values and priorities. We all lead busy lives and have innumerable demands on our time, but if we can’t get excited about getting engaged in things that most directly affect our homes, our schools, our kids, and local economy, then I’m not sure anything will motivate us to become active participants in our country’s future.
The PEC elections are just such an example of a local race in which you need to vote. As members of Pedernales Electric Cooperative, we have the ability to elect our Board Representatives – this ability to vote sets us apart from customers who simply purchase electricity from a Retail Electric Provider (REP). Without getting into the merits/drawbacks of purchasing from an REP vs. a Co-op, it is clear that our abilities to contribute feedback and vote for our representatives at PEC are valuable so long as we DO BOTH of those things.
So what are the issues at play here? Why is it important to vote in the PEC Board election?
How about, for starters, the price you pay for electricity. Have you ever thought about what goes into the numbers you see on your electric bill? The PEC Board sets your electric rates and crafts policies that directly and indirectly affect the amount you pay to get power to your home or business.
What about Energy Sources? Coal, wind, natural gas, solar energy, nuclear, biomass, hydro – these are all sources of electric power. What does PEC’s energy portfolio look like, and are you happy with that picture? Are you for or against energy source mandates?
PEC currently engages in community giving throughout our service territory with member funds. Do you agree with that? Do you want more input into that process or are you happy with how things are currently done? Do you want to see more or less PEC member-funded charitable giving in your community?
These issues are just a few that affect you, and each Director Candidate has his or her own views on these topics and others. Many people say that they do not vote in local elections because they do not know anything about the candidates or what they represent – I can understand that sentiment. However, in the case of the PEC Director elections, you can easily learn about the candidates and their positions. All the Board Candidates have provided a bio and recorded a short video to explain briefly their views and how their service on the Board could benefit the members. Take a minute and read the bios, either online or when they come in the mail with your ballot; go to the PEC WEBSITE and watch the candidate videos and the candidate question and answer forum. It won’t take much time and will help you make your decisions. Additionally, in my post last week I put together a compilation of websites, Facebook pages, and similar information to aid anyone desiring further information about the PEC Director-Candidates. I hope you will take the time to educate yourself and vote in this important election.
PEC members have not always had the chance to democratically elect their Board Members. That right was hard-won by a group of concerned, engaged Co-op members who demanded fair representation and helped open up PEC to its members. We have had open elections since 2008, and while voter turnout was once in the 25% range, it fell last year to 8.11%, it’s lowest percentage yet. I know the PEC membership can do better. Vote tomorrow! Tell your friends and neighbors to vote! If there is anything I can do to answer questions or help you in this process, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to see you at our Annual Meeting in June.