James Oakley (left) and Travis Cox outside Pedernales Electric Cooperative headquarters in Johnson City just before the co-op’s 9 a.m. annual meeting June 17. Both were re-elected to the board and seated to begin their new terms when the regular meeting followed at 10 a.m. Courtesy photo
New officers elected to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors at its regular meeting Friday, June 17, are District 3 Director Mark Ekrut as president, District 1 Director Milton Rister as vice president, and District 6 Director Paul Graf as secretary/treasurer.
The vote came after the board earlier approved a motion to move the election of officers to the July meeting. When directors came back from a 3½-hour executive session, they had changed their minds.
Before the regular meeting of the board at 10 a.m., PEC held its annual meeting at 9 a.m. and announced director election results. Then-board President Emily Pataki and CEO Julie Parsley also gave year-end reports, and a few members spoke during the public comments section.
The board officially seated re-elected directors James Oakley of District 5 and Travis Cox of District 4 but deferred election of new officers, approving a motion to take up the matter at the July meeting when they would also appoint members to the audit committee and nominate a committee chair.
A total of 16,342 votes were cast in the elections for districts 4 and 5, representing 17.74 percent of eligible voters. Of those, 6,126 were paper ballots and 10,216 were online votes. Eligible voters in those districts equaled 91,110. Only members in districts 4 and 5 were eligible to vote on the candidates running in their respective geographic area.
In the District 5 race between incumbent James Oakley and challengers Rachelle Sutherland and Scott Powell, a total of 7,748 votes were cast. Oakley received 3,770 votes to Sutherland’s 2,209 and Powell’s 1,769.
In District 4, a total of 8,564 votes were cast. Incumbent Travis Cox received 4,555 to defeat challenger Kathi Thomas, who received 4,009 votes.
Thomas spoke during the public comments period, using her three minutes to congratulate the winners and urging the board to change its ways when it comes to renewable energy policies.
“We need more transparency, more renewables,” she said. “Hot days like what we are experiencing now shows the importance of solar energy. PEC should be encouraging people to add solar, and you should bring energy-efficient appliance rebates back online as soon as possible.”
Her final point about the inconvenience of holding the annual meeting on a Friday morning was echoed by another member, who spoke at both the annual and regular meetings. Linda Kaye Rogers expressed amazement at the growth in membership over the past few years — more than 370,000 meters — but pointed out that only 20 members came to the annual meeting.
“Are you proud of this?” she asked, recalling that annual meetings drew hundreds of members when they were held on a Saturday.
“Please return to a weekend meeting,” she said.
During the regular meeting, she took the podium again to “put a positive note on today’s earlier comments.”
“This cooperative is what it is today because of its employees from management to the janitors,” she said. “I hope the members realize who keeps the lights on. Not you guys — it’s these people here. (They) make PEC the best co-op in the nation, and we are that despite the problems I mentioned earlier.”
“Well said,” Pataki commented as the meeting then moved to a short list of action items, including appointing delegates to the Texas Electric Cooperative annual meeting in Grapevine and incorporating the Identity Theft Prevention Policy into the Privacy and Confidentiality Policy.
Draft resolutions under consideration include the 2022 capital improvement plan budget amendment for individual project Wirtz-Flatrock-Paleface and approval of award to negotiate the contract for the election service provider.
Resolutions due to come up for a final vote were listed on the agenda as approval of amendment to Sun Coast Fuel Suppler contract for 2018-22, approval of real property acquisition for real property dispositions, and approval of capital improvement plan budget amendments for real property acquisition.
Personnel matters and safety and security matters were also on the executive session agenda.
Before moving on to the surprise officer vote, the board unanimously voted to:
approve item 2022-218 settling litigation (no details given)
approve item 2022-227, an amendment to the Sun Coast Fuel Supplier Contract for 2018-22 (no details given)
approved 2022-197, approval of construction contract for T315 Marshall Ford to Trading Post (no details given)
approve 2022-222, approval of real property acquisitions or dispositions (no details given)
During the vote for officers, members Oakley and Pataki removed themselves from consideration for each of the three positions. Ballots were cast secretly on different-colored slips of paper for each round of voting. A second round of votes was needed for president due to a tie between Ekrut and Rister, which Ekrut won.
He then took over the meeting from Pataki for the last item, which was to appoint board members to the annual audit committee.