Empire Electric Association will hold an election for two open seats at their annual meeting June 17.
Incumbent Jerry Fetterman faces challengers Allen Maez and Craig Wickstrom in the race for District 1. Incumbent Robert Barry is running uncontested in District 2. Terms are for four years.
Mail-in ballots, which will be mailed to members on or before June 2, must be delivered for the election count no later than 5 p.m. on June 11.
Ballots also may be dropped at the ballot box at Empire Electric’s main office, 801 N. Broadway, during business hours. The ballot box closes at 5:30 p.m. June 17 when the annual meeting begins.
Mailed ballots will take three to five days to reach their destination.
About 13,000 Empire Electric co-op members will be mailed a ballot and may vote for candidates in all districts. Co-op members are residents who have electric service in their name.
Elections results will be announced at the annual meeting June 17. The meeting is also available via Zoom. It will be held at Empire Electric’s Engineering & Operations Center, 23999 County Road L.4.
Board members help manage the electric co-op, which provides service to Montezuma and Dolores counties and part of southeast Utah.
They review and approve policies and analyze projects and rates during monthly meetings. Board members receive a base pay of $1,000 per month, plus $150 for attending additional meetings.
Short biographies were submitted by each candidate. They have been edited for style and length.
Fetterman has served on the Empire Electric Board for 16 years, the past nine as secretary/treasurer. He has attended numerous director training sessions and completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Director Gold Program.
I was instrumental in changing our mission from providing power to our members to meeting our members electrical needs, a small but significant change.
I currently serve as a representative of Empire on the board of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Empire’s power provider. Tri-State is currently transforming itself from a coal-based power provider to a renewable-energy provider. Part of Tri-State’s Responsibility Energy Plan is plans for building solar and wind plants, two of which are to be built in our territory — one by Cahone and another on Goodman Point. When combined with the smaller solar projects Empire is planning, 260 megawatts of solar generation is planned to be built here during the next three years. This will change our area from a net user to a net producer of electrical power.
Over the next four years, I hope to be the representative of you, our member owners, meeting your electrical needs. During this period, Tri-State is planning on reducing its power rates by 4% and as a result will help Empire in reducing our rates.
I am the youngest member a third generation of homesteading pioneers just north of Lewis. I grew up with the blessings of electricity in a home that was built when I was a toddler, and my older siblings remind me of how lucky I am. I live in the same home today. I was the first in my family to graduate college and earned a degree in biology from Fort Lewis College. I am a retired federal employee and had a 37-year career in natural resources. During his career, Maez executed solid conservation plans, managed budgets, and guided employees. In 2009, I was the recipient of the Conservationist of the Year Award from the New Mexico Association of State Conservation Districts. To receive the award as a federal employee was meaningful, as the award typically goes to farmers. I attend weekly Montezuma County Commission board meetings. I am part of a grassroots coalition looking into election integrity. I serve on a stakeholders group that interviewed candidates for Superintendent of the Re-1 School District. I also attend Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. meetings and Empire Electric meetings.
It matters who serves on our local boards and who we elect to serve us. It is my firm belief that good public service demands character traits of devotion to your family, your community and your country. I want our valley to be a strong, independent, economically viable community.
I have lived the majority of my life in Montezuma County. I grew up in Cortez working in my family’s Main Street business. Upon graduation from Montezuma-Cortez High School, I attended the Colorado School of Mines and graduated in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering. My wife and two boys live outside of Dolores, and we enjoy the beauty and activities that the Southwest has in abundance.
In 1998, I became employed with Nielson’s Construction (Skanska), and I moved outside Dolores, where I still reside. I worked as project engineer and permitting engineer for 10 years. I was promoted to oversee the aggregate and asphalt production and had multiple employees under my direct and indirect supervision as well as budget and schedule responsibilities. Working for Nielson’s I obtained my certification as a professional engineer, and I’m licensed in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
In 2012, I went to work for Weeminuche Construction. I was an estimator/project manager and was promoted to assistant general manager for three years with similar oversight responsibilities as with Skanska. In 2019, I made the decision to work for myself designing septic systems, foundations and other engineering.
I am versed in working with the broad cross-section of people who live in Montezuma County and understand the needs we have as a community. I have strong work ethic and would do my best to support our cooperative as a director if elected.
Barry was raised on a farm at Eastland, a rural farming community southeast of Monticello, Utah. He attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse and bused to Monticello, where he graduated from high school.
Barry went to Southern Utah State College at Cedar City, Utah, before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam with an engineering and mapping company and is a lifetime member of the Troy Young VFW Post No. 5181 in Dove Creek.
Bob and Elaine Randolph have been married for 49 years and have two children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. He worked for an aerial mapping company in Grand Junction before starting a furniture manufacturing company and retail store. In 1983, Barry moved his family back to Monticello to take over the family farm.
In 1986, he was elected to the San Juan Soil Conservation Board and served as chairman for 30 years. Barry has served on the County FSA Board, the Governor’s Utah Conservation Commission and the Ag Advisory Board.
He was elected into leadership roles as vice president and president of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts and for the past eight years has represented Utah on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Conservation Districts.
He is chairman of the Southwest Region, which includes Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. Barry has served on the Empire Electric Board for the last two years.
For more information on Empire Electric, visit www.eea.coop.