Your Vote Counts
at Your Co-op
Democratic member Control is critical to the operation of every co-op.
While national elections dominated the headlines for most of the past year, local elections and local representation are just as important.
Here at Hamilton County Electric Cooperative, we want to remind you that voting for politicians is not the only way we as co-op members can practice democracy.
Every co-op—whether it’s your electric cooperative, your credit union or a farm cooperative—follows the basic principle of one member, one vote. That most often comes into play when you’re asked to vote on who will represent you on your co-op’s board of directors. These folks are your friends and fellow community members. Occasionally, you may also be asked to vote on a co-op policy, such as a change to the bylaws.
Every member of our cooperative in good standing may run for the board—one of the key differences between co-op members and customers of other types of utilities.
Co-ops invite participation. In fact, an active, engaged membership is important to the survival of a co-op. Most cooperatives serve far fewer people than investor-owned utilities, which can have millions of customers. If you are not actively involved with co-op activities, we all suffer. As the electric utility industry evolves, having engaged members willing to take an active role is crucial.
Columinate, a cooperative network of consultants, has developed the following structure to encourage member participation in consumer co-ops such as electric cooperatives. At Hamilton County EC, we believe in this concept, known as the Own, Use, Serve and Belong model.
Own refers to each member truly believing and feeling that they do indeed share in the ownership of the co-op. This can come from attending the annual meeting, voting, receiving capital credits or participating in other co-op events.
Use means you use the resources of the co-op wisely (after all, you are an owner of those resources). You utilize the energy audits that Hamilton County EC offers. You use energy-efficient appliances, seal your home’s windows and doors, and use LEDs—and you turn them off when you leave the room.
Serve: If we are successful with “own” and “use,” perhaps you will feel called to serve your co-op—maybe as a member of the board, volunteer, committee member or community contributor at co- op sponsored events.
Belonging is something we all seek. In the early days, when the co-op was getting started, neighbors helped neighbors. Although now our lives seem busier and more electronically driven than ever, a sense of connection and belonging is still necessary for our communities to thrive.
Remember: You have a voice in your co-op.