The Empire Electric Association annual meeting and board election is Oct. 8, and voter turnout has been better than last year’s election.
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.
Ballots can still be dropped off in the lobby of the Empire Electric’s main office at 801 N. Broadway, Cortez, on Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Also, before the Thursday meeting, in-person voting and final ballot drop-off will be available from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the meeting site. Ballots will be available if needed.
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. Election results will be announced near the end of the meeting.
About 13,000 Empire Electric cooperative members were mailed a ballot in the mail in mid-September.
As of Sept. 30, 2,600 ballots had been turned in, or about 20%, said Empire executive secretary Shawna McLaughlin. Total ballots turned in last year’s board election was 16%.
“Turnout is very good this year. I think there is more awareness during an election year, and everyone is more on top of voting,” she said.
The District 4 candidates are:
Butler: He grew up on the family farm on Summit Ridge. From 1974 to 1992, Butler worked for Ponderosa Timber as a saw filer and millwright. Currently, he holds the position of foreman, millwright and mechanic for Aspen Wallwood and Aspen Wood Products.
Mate: If elected, Mate 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.
Hernandez: He has a background as land manager for San Diego Gas & Electric for an 20 years. His company, Dolores River Valley Consultants Inc., remains a paid consultant to the utility industry. If elected, his goal is to address needs of the region and maintain the rural culture.
The District 7 candidate is Larry Archibeque, and he is unopposed.
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.