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New Empire Electric board members to be announced at annual meeting

District seven’s seat and district four’s seat are up for election this year.
Ballots to be sent out to voters around May 20

On Thursday, June 20, at the Empire Electric annual meeting, the Empire Electric board of director election results will be announced for Districts 4 and 7.

Both board seats are four-year terms. District 4 is held by Norman Butler, Jr., and District 7 by Larry Archibeque. Both men are rerunning for their seats, with Bill Mollenkopf challenging Butler for his seat.

The annual meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at 23999 Road L. 4 in Cortez. Registration will take place before the meeting at 4:30 p.m. The meeting, which was described as a “business meeting only,” will give a $10 electric bill credit to members who attend.

Current board members are Jerry Fetterman for District 1, Robert Barry for District 2, Corey Robinson for District 3, Butler for District 4, Kent Lindsay for District 5, David Sitton for District 6 and Archibeque for District 7.

The seven districts encompass an area that includes Towaoc, Cortez, Dolores, Mancos, Dove Creek and Monticello, and the area between them.

To qualify to take a director position, candidates must be a “bona fide” resident of the district in which they are running and be a member of the cooperative for at least a year before expressing intent to run.

Those who fulfill those requirements must also receive 15 signatures from residents of their district to be eligible.

These petitions were due April 22, and the eligible candidates were announced on April 23. Ballots will be mailed to voting districts around May 20.

Empire Electric Member Engagement Manager Andy Carter told The Journal that ballots must be received by June 15. Because the ballots are being counted by an entity in Minnesota, Carter recommended that ballots be mailed around June 10.

Carter said the ballot can be dropped off at the Empire Electric office on 801 N. Broadway.

District 4, where Butler and Mellenkopf are competing, encompasses the Dolores area, while District 7 contains the southern portion of Cortez and the Montezuma County area south of Cortez and north of County Road H.

Larry Archibeque is rerunning for district seven.

Archibeque shared that he is a lifelong resident of Montezuma County, as well as being a descendant of some of the first residents of the county. He is running uncontested for the District 7 seat.

Archibeque noted that during his first term as a director, Empire has maintained and incorporated a “strong safety program,” has a secure financial position, has been awarded grants and supported green energy without losing its affordability and reliability. He has also become the vice president of the Colorado Rural Electric Association.

“Empire Electric continues to provide the most resilient, reliable and affordable system for all cooperative members. I humbly request your support for a second term,” Archibeque said.

Norman Butler Jr. is rerunning for District 4.

Butler is rerunning for his District 4 seat. He is a lifelong resident of Montezuma County. He graduated from Dolores High School and has been working at Aspen Wallwood and Aspen Wood Products since 2004. He is married with three children.

Butler has held the position of school board chairman for Cortez Adventist Christian School for 24 years and has been on the Summit Reservoir and Irrigation Co. board for over 28 years. Fifteen of those years has been spent as president.

Bill Mollenkopf is running for District 4.

Mollenkopf, also running for District 4, is a former Empire Electric board member and retired family optometrist.

“I hope you may ‘see’ me as the proven choice to serve on the Empire Electric board,” Mollenkopf said.

Mollenkopf founded the Cortez Vision Clinic more than 40 years ago and was appointed by Gov. Ray Romer to serve on the Colorado State Board of Optometric Examiners.

He has also been on the Cortez City Council as Cortez mayor, been a member of the Empire Electric board, awarded the Director’s Gold Credential from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and represented Empire Electric on the Tri-State G & Board.

“I would be sincerely grateful for the opportunity to once again learn from Empire Electric’s most valuable asset, our EEA employees. If elected, I pledge to you to support my three electric core values of reliability, affordability and responsibility to our environment, community and safety,” Mollenkopf said. “These principles will guide my decision-making as a board member. I will thoughtfully consider the varied points of view my fellow board members offer in discussing policy issues, and finally, I will use my experience and in-depth understanding of our communities to make responsible decisions that preserve Empire’s dynamic present and future. Thank you for considering my candidacy.”

District covered by Empire Electric. (Empire Electric website)

As of December 2023, the average number of members per district was 1,913. In that meeting, the board determined that there was no need for district boundary changes at this time.

More information about the upcoming Empire Electric elections and the annual meeting can be found online at https://eea.coop/your-annual-meeting.