Pedernales Electric Cooperative members elected incumbent board president James Oakley (left) and former Hays County judge and newcomer Jim Powers to the board during the membership meeting June 18 in Dripping Springs. Courtesy photo
CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
DRIPPING SPRINGS — Pedernales Electric Cooperative members have re-elected an incumbent and added a new face to the board of directors in an election June 18.
Officials unveiled results during the annual membership meeting in Dripping Springs.
Board President James Oakley defeated challenger Carlos Palasciano 19,527 to 6,381, garnering approximately 75 percent of the vote for the District 5 position.
Candidates for the position must come from one of several counties, including Burnet, Gillespie, Kerr, Llano, Mason and parts of Travis and Williamson. However, the entire PEC membership, about 235,000, vote for the candidate.
“We had record turnout. There was some 26,000 voters,” Oakley said. “I am humbled by the level of support and confident that the members had in placing me back on the board.”
Oakley has served on the board for three years and as president for the past year.
About 11 percent of the 235,393 eligible members voted in the election, results showed.
Palasciano was unavailable for comment.
“I’m glad that he wanted to be a process and run for the board,” Oakley said of his opponent.
Oakley said he will continue to support the direction the co-op has taken over the past several years.
“We were going to continue the positive changes that we’ve been making. That means the development of the Marble Falls, or Northwestern District, office. We continue to lower rates. We continue to adopt new technology,” he said. “In October, we’re looking at time-of-use rate adoption. I am very excited about continuing the conversation for the opportunity to partner with some high-speed providers on broadband.”
Former Hays County Judge Jim Powers, who was unopposed for the District 4 seat, received 22,954 votes.
“I’m excited to have former judge Jim Powers on the board. I’ve had positive interactions with him in the past. He’s just a good guy, and I think he’ll bring a high level of experience to the board,” Oakley said. “… The beauty of being from local government is you’re held to a high standard of transparency and openness. We’ve enhanced that for the co-op.”
Among differences over which Oakley and Palasciano sparred were a single-member district system versus at-large voting, the current system of electing board members.
Oakley supported switching to single-member voting, while Palasciano supported the current system.
Also, both candidates disagreed on the proposed closure of district offices, including the center in Bertram.
Oakley supported keeping the office open, while Palasciano said offices such as the one in Bertram needed to be closed to streamline operations.
Also on the ballot, voters decided the fate of an amendment to the articles of incorporation.
The measure passed by approximately 90 percent of the vote: 24,270 to 1,743.
The amendment requires a members comment section for specially called meetings as well as regular meetings of the PEC board.
Oakley said he voted for the amendment.
“I want to make sure all the membership is able to know what’s going on and be able to have a voice about what’s going on,” Oakley said.