Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative member-owners in three districts will go to the polls in June to elect new members to the Board of Trustees.
Member-owners in District 4 will vote on June 21, those in District 5 will vote on June 24 and those in District 6 will vote on June 26.
Current District 4 Trustee Victor Salazar, District 5 Trustee Lucas Cordova and District 6 Trustee Bruce Duran said they plan to run for re-election.
Duran is a previous Board president. Cordova is the current Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association representative and assistant Board secretary and treasurer.
Cordova and Salazar will each have at least one challenger.
Former Española School District Board member Patrick Herrera said he plans to run in District 4.
“I am running because I think we should have some transparency and accountability,” Herrera said,
Embudo resident, garlic farmer and renewable energy activist Stanley Crawford is running in District 5.
Co-op General Manager Donna Montoya-Trujillo announced the election dates during the April 24 monthly Board meeting.
Board President Nick Naranjo said they plan to use the Co-op’s list of member-owners as of May 31 to determine voter eligibility.
This means anyone in Districts 4, 5 and 6 will have until May 31 to become a member-owners so they can vote in the election.
The Co-op’s bylaws state a person must file a written application, pay the $5 fee, agree to the Co-op’s rules and regulations and purchase electricity from the Co-op to become a member-owner. This can be done at any of the Co-op’s three offices.
Montoya-Trujillo said they will have to hold a special meeting after May 31 to certify the member-owner list. A date for this meeting has not been set.
Anyone who runs for a trustee spot will be allowed to view a list of the eligible voters in their district.
District 4 Trustee David Salazar asked if outside groups would be allowed to purchase voter information to use during the campaign.
Montoya-Trujillo said no.
“That information is not something somebody has access to,” she said. “The candidates do get that, but they have to then sign a release that they are going to use it for that specific purpose and then they would turn it back to us.”
An email request sent to Montoya-Trujillo for a copy of the non-disclosure form has been pending since Monday.
Districts 4, 5 and 6 are each separated into Wards A and B.
Naranjo said all member-owners in the three districts will be allowed to vote, regardless of which ward they live in.
The bylaws state District 4 and 6 each elect two trustees, while District 5 elects three.
What’s at stake
The results of this election will have a big impact on the outcome of votes by the trustees.
Duran, along with David Salazar, Trujillo and District 2 Trustee Dolores McCoy have been critical of decisions regarding the construction of a solar array in Alcalde and the Co-op’s new headquarters in Hernandez.
If Cordova and Victor Salazar lose their elections, it will flip the organization of the Board.
The majority is also able to add one vote to their side through the election of the trustee-at-large.
The bylaws state the trustee-at-large is elected through a majority vote of the trustees at the Co-op’s annual meeting in odd-numbered years.
Current Trustee-at-Large John Tapia replaced Steven Santistevan in 2017. Tapia was a former Board president and District 6 trustee.
District 1 Trustee Dennis Trujillo asked during the April 24 meeting if it would be possible for the Co-op to hire a third-party company to monitor the June elections.
“I know there was some issues regarding transparency or whatever,” he said.
During the District 6 elections in 2017, candidate Marcie Martinez lost by one vote to current Board Vice President Leo Marquez.
Martinez contested the election results and asked for a recount, but her request was denied.
The Co-op’s bylaws state the Board president, in this case Naranjo, will be responsible for appointing three or more election officials to monitor each polling place on election day.
“Said election officials need not be members of the district where the election is being conducted and they shall supervise the election,” the bylaws state. “The chairman of the election officials shall certify the registration, tally the votes cast, and specify the names and number of votes received by each candidate.”
Montoya-Trujillo said the Co-op pays Rio Arriba County to run the elections and uses their voting machines and equipment.
Naranjo said during the April 24 meeting that he has yet to choose any election officials.
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