We Need Your Vote
by Bob Hance on Wednesday, September 8, 2021
I’m not a fan of the notion that we do things because “we’ve always done it that way.” In fact, I challenge people otherwise every time I hear the phrase. However, sometimes we don’t know we’re caught in that particular pattern until something brings attention to it.
MEC operates under bylaws that detail membership qualifications and meetings; directors and officers; our non-profit operation; and a myriad of other things. We reference the bylaws occasionally to confirm a business practice and change course if a particular decision is not aligned with these corporate operating rules.
Earlier this year we took a deeper dive into our bylaws when a question came up regarding director qualifications, and through that we realized that we are not giving adequate attention to either qualifications or accountability. We were operating in a fashion that represented the way we’d always done it simply because it hadn’t hit our radar that we should operate otherwise.
Please understand this is not a commentary on the qualifications of your current Board of Directors. The nine-member board has a collective 140 years of experience, with tenure ranging from two years to 28 years. Most have earned the highest status of director credentials through our national association while others are well on their way to achieving that. This board actively participates in training and continuing education to best represent the interests of customers across all our lines of business.
The problem is the current bylaws don’t set much of a bar related to who is elected to represent you and how that individual is held accountable, and your membership in this cooperative is too important to expect anything less.
MEC has served the rural space as an electric distribution cooperative for more than 80 years, but today’s cooperative is very different from the one that lit rural Michigan back in the late-1930s. Truth be told, we’re very different today than we were five short years ago, due largely to the significant investment in infrastructure and the unprecedented growth and success of our fiber deployment. The individuals elected to represent and protect your interests must be well versed in our industries and prepared regularly to make multi-million-dollar strategic decisions to guide the future of your cooperative. The bottom line is that your membership interest in MEC is much more valuable today, and your representation at the board table should reflect that.
Your directors have authority to change the bylaws, except with matters that concern their own qualifications, classifications, or terms of office. Those changes require a vote from the membership. On page 12 and 13 of this issue we’ve summarized the proposed changes and detailed the process by which you can vote for or against these changes. You will be able to view a full, red-lined version of the changes through the voting portal and SmartHub.
We believe these changes will make us an even better and stronger cooperative for you. I encourage you to exercise the power of your membership and use your voice to vote.