SUBSCRIBE NOW

Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative election for directors in districts 2 and 3, which begins Tuesday, May 16, will continue after a district judge denied a request for a permanent injunction to stop it. 

Former board Director Randy Klaus filed a civil suit in district court in Blanco County on April 24. The case was heard by 33rd District Judge Allan Garrett on May 12 in Burnet. 

Klaus sought to stop the election because he was deemed ineligible as a candidate by the Quality and Elections Committee, a board-appointed committee of PEC members representing each of the co-op’s seven districts. 

“Mr. Klaus has been irreparably harmed and injured by not having been given an opportunity to represent the member-owners of PEC in District 3,” reads the “petition and application for a temporary restraining order and permanent injunctive relief” that Klaus filed. 

Garrett denied a temporary restraining order to stop the election after a hearing on May 1. 

The hearing for permanent injunctive relief took about 2 hours, wedged between two custody battles that shared space on the afternoon docket.

Klaus, who represented himself, cross-examined co-op CEO Julie Parsley, General Counsel Don Ballard, outside counsel Steven Mierle, and Director Emily Pataki, asking about grievances from his days as a board director in 2020 as well as the reasons he was denied a place on the ballot.

Klaus was elected to represent District 3, a seat currently held by board President Mark Ekrut, in 2017. Klaus resigned in February 2020 and then filed as a candidate for the May election that same year. He was found ineligible by the QEC then, and again in 2023. 

In closing arguments, Klaus informed the judge that he had filed for a summary judgment in district court that morning. 

“This case demands justice,” he said. “The voters should be making the decision on who serves on the board.” 

PEC attorney Rob Johnson countered that PEC was following its bylaws in conducting the 2023 election, as it had in 2020.

“(Klaus) has not proven his case,” Johnson said. “He has not pled a valid cause of action.” 

After a five-minute recess, Judge Garrett returned to deny injunctive “and any other relief.” 

Five candidates total are running for the district 2 and 3 seats. The election runs from May 16-June 9.

In the District 3 race, incumbent Ekrut faces challengers Michael Guess and John Hoffner. In District 2, incumbent Emily Pataki faces challenger Carlos St. James. 

Members may vote by mail or online. Ballots have been mailed and the online voting site will go live on Tuesday. Only members in those two districts are eligible to vote. The election does not include Burnet County, which is in District 5. James Oakley was re-elected to that seat in 2022. 

Results will be announced on June 13 and the winners seated during the June 16 board meeting, which follows the annual meeting on the same day. Both meetings are held at PEC headquarters, 201 S. Avenue F in Johnson City.

suzanne@thepicayune.com