Elections for the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative District 4 Board of Trustees seat will take place on June 21 at the Co-op offices in Hernandez. Incumbent Lucas Cordova is running against Patrick Herrera, a former Española School Board member.
Each candidate is asked the same questions. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Cordova did not return phone calls by press time to answer questions for this article.
Donna Montoya-Trujillo recently resigned. The Co-op has had six general managers or interim general managers in the last decade, with the majority of them promoted from within. How would you hire the next general manager?
“(I would) put it out for a search and find a qualified candidate that is an engineer with some kind of (chief financial officer) experience, and that’s educated in the field.”
Member-owners feel like they do not have a voice at the monthly meetings and that it is difficult to get information from the Board of Trustees and Co-op management. How will you address member-owners’ concerns and improve the relationship between them and the Board?
“I believe that the member-owners should be allotted time to express their concerns and their views in the direction in which they would like to see the Co-op go. That’s why I am running. There is no accountability, no transparency.”
The Board recently passed a policy requiring member-owners, media, attorneys and other members of the public to send all questions and comments to the general manager and be reviewed by the Board’s Executive Committee before receiving a response. Do you support the Co-op’s communication policy and why?
“No, I don’t support it and I really believe when you are doing the right thing, you don’t have to think on it. When you are proud of the work you do, you are wide open to questions when you have nothing to hide.”
What is one Co-op Board policy or bylaw that needs to be changed and why?
“I would like to see a salary cap limit on what a Board of Trustee (member) can earn and that’s at $10,000 a year. And if you really think about that, that is four meetings a month at $150, which comes out at $7,200 (a year). The other two are term limits. A two, four-year term limit because if you don’t accomplish in four years, you aren’t going to accomplish anything in eight (years) and (at) 12 (years on the Board), you are trying to make this a career path for yourself. And the third one, the bylaws need to be updated to fit today’s changing world.”
Kit Carson Electric Cooperative got out of its contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. because of limits on renewable energy generation. Another co-op, Delta-Montrose Electric Association in Colorado, is in the process. Should the Co-op end its contract with Tri-State and why?
“I think there’s a way to work with Tri-State. I really believe Tri-State is starting to see the writing on the wall and it is a changing world. I would look into working with Tri-State and see where they can meet us in the middle, because you know, in a nutshell, we do owe them money and I wouldn’t want to pass the cost on to the member-owners.”
Last year, the world’s leading climate scientists warned that there is only a dozen years left for global heating to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. What role does the Co-op play in confronting the climate crisis?
“We got to start the conversations on renewables and be smart about it, that we don’t pass the cost onto our member-owners. It is a very important topic and is something that has to be addressed sooner rather than later.”
Do you support the Co-op’s current efforts to build a 2.5 megawatt solar array and why?
“The current project, why it hasn’t gotten off the ground, is (that it is) a bad investment for the member-owners to do this one, that the current Executive Board has made. And yes, I would like to see more renewables that will benefit the member-owners.”