You have the control at your cooperative

George Carter

The title of my article relates to one of the seven cooperative principles all co-ops adhere to — democratic member control. Simply put, it means the membership — you and I — get to elect the board of trustees that oversees the cooperative. This is unique in the utility world. At electric cooperatives, members elect fellow members to represent them on the board of trustees.

The board of trustees has a big, important job. Eighty years ago, it was these locally elected boards that organized the electric cooperatives. These boards had the vision to see what electricity could do for rural America.

Today, the importance of a strong vision is still critical to the cooperative’s future. As the cooperative has grown, the complexity has increased, and the needs of the members have greatly changed. Historically, cooperatives mainly served residential homes and farms. Today, they serve highly complex animal-rearing farms; steel, aluminum, and copper factories; and even new “smart homes.” Board members must keep up with these changes to ensure that future planning at the cooperative takes the ever-changing needs of the cooperative members into consideration.

Today’s board members face new and different challenges, but the constant element is that they are still elected by their neighbors and friends in the community. Locally elected and locally controlled — that is how your cooperative board functions. Our board of trustees looks out for the needs of our members, now and into the future; they do not look out for out-of-state stockholders.

Every year, three of the nine districts are up for election. Currently, petitions are being accepted for the board of trustees election to be held this March. Deadline to submit your petition is Dec. 15.

The upcoming election will be for candidates in districts 3, 7, and 8.

  • District 3 includes members who reside in Crane, Carryall, Harrison, and Benton townships in Paulding County. This position is currently held by Tim Derck, and he will be seeking re-election.
  • District 7 includes Monroe, Palmer, Liberty, and Greensburg in Putnam County. This district is currently represented by Ken Niese, who will seek re-election.
  • District 8 includes members living in Perry, Jackson, Monterey, Jennings, and Marion townships in Putnam County. This seat is currently held by Douglas Fortman, who will seek re-election as well.

If you are interested and reside in one of the districts holding an election, please come to our office located at 401 McDonald Pike, Paulding, Ohio, for a petition packet. The packet can also be downloaded at