Capital Electric’s 74th annual meeting goes virtual

Well 2020 has been a year to remember in many ways. COVID-19 has either cancelled or transformed virtually every meeting, event, and family gathering. It has changed the way we think, the way we act around each other and much more. Everywhere we go, we see the effects it has had on society.

Capital Electric members have grown accustomed, after 74 years, to attending an annual meeting in early June. They enjoy the fellowship, the complimentary meal, the prize drawings and even don’t mind the business meeting. It is your right as a co-op member to expect this same scenario to play out, year after year. Well this is not an ordinary year!

This year’s annual meeting was going to be a colossal event. We moved it to the Bismarck Event Center and planned to hold it in two of the exhibit halls. We planned to have a catered meal, kid’s games and inflatables, lots of room for electric vehicles and equipment on display and more.

As you all know by now, just like the supply of toilet paper, things change. We made the decision way back in March to push the date back to October 8th as we knew it would not be able to happen in June. Our entire planning process would now be pushed back four months, which meant a lot of re-planning and working around updated schedules.

One of the primary purposes of our annual meeting is to elect directors for the Capital Electric board. Our board consists of nine members consisting of three members from each of three districts in Burleigh and Sheridan counties. The normal process would include a nominating committee meeting in April to place names on the ballot. This year that process was already started but then had to be postponed.

Due to a timely change in our cooperative bylaws, we were able to move to a mail-in and online election process this year. We had already contracted to work with Survey and Ballot Systems to conduct the election for us. They are experienced in working with co-ops around the country on confidential board elections and they work well with NISC to integrate the process into our SmartHub online account system to allow for easy online voting.

The nominating committee met in August and proceeded to nominate a total of seven candidates in the three districts. We were pleased that during this year of uncertainty, we had members willing to step up and place their names on the ballots. We decided to provide short video messages from each candidate on our web site and the voting web site so voters could hear from them in advance.

When the online and mail-in voting ended at midnight on October 5th, there were more than 2,000 ballots cast. This number is five times greater than the highest number of votes we have ever had in prior elections. The engagement from our membership was very gratifying during this process.

In anticipation of streamlining the in-person meeting on October 8th, we decided to pre-record the President and Manager’s report, as well as the financial report so we could minimize the number of bodies on stage during the actual meeting. We streamed the meeting live on our web site for those members that wanted to be involved but needed to be at home.

In my 13 years at Capital Electric, I have never planned an annual meeting with the intention of discouraging our members from attending. Our reason for having an in-person meeting was to provide an opportunity to vote if members hadn’t already voted online or by mail. As it turned out we had only 2 members show up at the meeting to watch it in person and vote.

During this year’s meeting, we completed the election process by combining online, mail-in and in-person votes. The votes were tallied by the election committee and presented. The winners of the election were Dave Charles in District 1, David Straley in District 2 and Kyle Tschosik in District 3. They will begin serving a three-year term effective immediately.

Also, during this year’s meeting, we said good-bye to Carol Larson, our long-time attorney from Pringle and Herigstad in Minot. Carol has served the co-op diligently for 22 years, helping us through bylaw changes, the Central Power consolidation and so much more. She has attended virtually every board meeting, handling all legal issues that arise and documenting everything that is discussed. We expressed our sincere gratitude to Carol and wished her well.

We also bid a fond farewell to Bill Patrie, who has served on the Capital Electric board of directors for six years. Bill’s vast co-op experience and passion for the cooperative business model will be greatly missed on our board. We wished Bill well and thanked him for his service to the cooperative.

We also said good-bye to our current board president, Richard Koski. We want to thank Richard for the extra time and dedication he displayed during his time as president. He is a dedicated co-op member and community member as well.

The meeting was adjourned, and we now move forward into another year of working to keep your lights on and your electricity affordable!

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