Empire Electric Association will hold an election on Oct. 8 for two open board of director seats.
Three candidates are in the race for the District 4 seat, and one candidate is uncontested for District 7.
District 4 candidates are Norman L. Butler Jr., John J. Hernandez, and Marianne Mate. The District 7 candidate is Larry Archibeque.
The winner of District 4 will replace Bill Mollenkopf, and Archibeque will replace District 7 board member John Porter.
Board members are paid $1,000 per month.
About 13,000 Empire Electric cooperative members are eligible to vote and will receive a ballot in the mail in mid-September.
Ballots returned by mail must arrive by Oct. 3. Ballots can also be dropped off in the lobby of the Empire Electric office at 801 N. Broadway, Cortez, by Oct. 8. Election results will be reported at the meeting.
The location of the meeting and election has changed to a larger venue to allow for social distancing because of the pandemic.
The meeting and election will be held at Empire Electric’s Engineering & Operations Center, at 23999 County Road L.4.
“There will be plenty of room for social distancing and lots of parking,” said Andy Carter, Energy Management Advisor for Empire Electric.
The meeting is usually held at the Calvin Denton Room at the main office, but it is too small to allow for 6 feet of social distance.
The District 4 candidates are:
Norman L. Butler Jr.
Butler grew up on the family farm on Summit Ridge in the house where he resides. He attended schools in Cortez and Dolores and graduated from Dolores High School. When not at school, he worked on the farm.
From 1974 to 1992, Butler worked for Ponderosa Timber as a saw filer and millwright. During that time, he married and started a family with three children. In 1993, he started up his own business, Lone Cone Lumber, manufacturing house log kits. He also continued to farm. In 2004, Butler started work as a millwright for Aspen Wallwood. Currently, he holds the position of foreman, millwright and mechanic for Aspen Wallwood and Aspen Wood Products.
Butler is a member of the Cortez SDA church and has been the school board chairman for Cortez Adventist Christian School for more than 20 years. He has been on the Summit Reservoir and Irrigation Co. board for more than 24 years and has served as president for more than 10 years. He is running for the Empire Electric Association board because as a lifelong resident, he said, he cares about the needs of the community.
Mate is proud of the rural freedom of the area, and if elected, she said she would advocate for greater energy independence and lower bills.
She says Empire’s restrictive energy contract through 2050 misses out on opportunities to generate local power that is cheaper and cleaner and would create jobs. Mate believes there is opportunity to change the energy future for the benefit of families, businesses and the agriculture community.
She is an active community member and has served as mayor of Dolores, and on many local boards and nonprofits in her 24 years living in Dolores. Mate said she has brought fiscal discipline to local government projects and grown economic opportunity with new programs including a local farmers market, the Dolores River Festival, new trails, sports investments and local infrastructure upgrades.
She applauds Empire Electric Association’s hardworking and professional staff and said it has a proud history of providing reliable energy and keeping the lights on. If elected, Mate said she would carry on that tradition by advocating for more affordable energy solutions, new local jobs and smart investments in energy independence.
John J. Hernandez
Hernandez operates a small business in Colorado to provide help for local businesses and private entities with obtaining and interpreting easements. He is an active member of the local Elks Lodge and has served on the board of the Galloping Goose Historical Society for a four-year term.
He has a background in land development as a surveyor for 20 years and a land manager for San Diego Gas & Electric for an additional 20 years. His company, Dolores River Valley Consultants Inc., remains a paid consultant to the utility industry.
Hernandez said he understands the complexity of the utility business, and if elected, his goal is to use his experience and knowledge of the utility industry to address needs of the region and maintain the rural culture. With ‘alternative energy’ on the minds of residents in the area, Hernandez will seek to maximize the efforts of Empire Electric in this arena and maintain the low electric rates of the cooperative.
He and his wife moved to Dolores in 2007 from Southern California.
The District 7 candidate is Larry Archibeque, and he is unopposed.
Archibeque has been a lifelong and multigenerational resident of Montezuma County.
“I grew up in the sawmill camps of Fish Creek, Red Cloud, once located north of Dolores,” he said. “My elementary education was in the Dolores School District, and I attended high school in Mancos, graduating from Mancos High School.”
He received a bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College, a master’s from Adams State College, and a post-graduate endorsement in education from the University of Northern Colorado.
He retired after 34 years in education in Montezuma County and has served on the Piñon Project Board, the Montezuma County Habitat for Humanity Board. He also assisted and coordinated commodity distributions in Dolores for several years.
“Service to the community and giving back to the community has always been a lifetime goal as many have given back to my family and myself throughout our lifetime,” he said.
He said his goal as a candidate for the Empire Electric board is to enhance the organization for its constituency.
“I pledge to all that I will be committed, value-oriented, transparent, accessible and hardworking for all members of Empire Electric while maintaining a focus on fiscal responsibility and service to the community at large,” he said.