ST. MATTHEWS, SC (WIS) - On a chilly November Saturday, thousands came out to cast a vote for a new slate of board members to represent the Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
This comes after a meeting in August where nearly 1,500 people voted to get rid of all nine board members. Only 30 voted against their firing.
History was made as the number of voters surpassed that of August. Just over 1,700 customers voted for nine new board members to represent the Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
This election comes after customers complained about excessive compensation for Tri-County board members, along with members claiming they had been given incorrect information about proposed bylaws.
Many customers said this was a long time coming, and they’re happy their voice is able to promote change.
Ellis C. Nelson, a customer said, “As a member, I think that this is out part, this is our job to see and be able to speak out and let the board know because this biggest room in the world is room for improvement.”
Customers came to vote for change, a new beginning, a new board that values transparency and accountability.
“It’s almost unreal. We’re kind of like numb because we knew it would come we felt like it would come,” Helen Bradley, a voter said. “Today it’s finally here and we’re ready to go forward and see what’s going to happen.”
48 candidates were listed on the ballot. Nine candidates won, all with a similar goal to promote change.
S. George Wilson, newly elected board member for District 1C Richland County said, “I think the change is that they are just tired of the high electric bills for a small co-op like Tri-County Electric, and there’s things that need to be done in order to cut the bill.”
“I think that the money needs to go to the capital gains so that everyone gets something of the pot,” Barbara Weston, newly elected board member for District 1B Richland County said. “It was too much going out to the former board members and what was going on but that’s water under the bridge, we’re going forward now and that’s not going to happen during this watch.”
WIS also asked Chad Lowder, the CEO of Tri-County Electric if he can assure ratepayers that this new board will not be overcompensated in pay.
“Part of that was done in August. So you know in August the membership passed a new set of bylaws and those bylaws put those compensation caps in there,” Lowder said. “The new bylaws put a lot of checks and balances on the board and myself to where a lot of those abuses are not allowed on them.”
Customers say they are ready for change and are grateful their voice was heard.
Chris Roland, a customer said, “It’s very rewarding as a member because a lot of times there’s nothing we can do about things and I think it’s very rewarding and nice to be able to say hey we spoke and everybody listened and now we see this in action.”
The new board members include:
Ida L Dixon
S. George Wilson
Gary F. Geiger
Joe Strickland Jr
Willie E. Jeffries
James R. Jim Dantzler
Jacqueline S. Shaw
You can watch the live feed of the new members being announced below.