Electric Co-op annual meeting has contested board positions

With its annual meeting only a few days away, the Central New Mexico Electric Co-op, or CNMEC, has two board positions up for election that are contested.

The annual meeting will be held April 13 at the Moriarty High School gym. Voting is open to the member-customers of the electric co-op between 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on that day only.

Certain restrictions on voting apply. For example, each household gets one vote, not each person in a household.

There are three positions up for election on the 8-member board: Duane Frost is the incumbent and is unopposed in District 7.

District 5, previously held by Jerry Britton, is wide open as Britton is not seeking re-election. The seat is being sought by Julie Bassett, Art DuCharme, and Santos Tapia.

In District 8, incumbent Bill King is facing challenger Steven Grabiel.

The Independent spoke with DuCharme, Bassett and Tapia, but could not reach Grabiel or King by press time. Each gave their reasons for seeking the seat.

Santos Tapia owns Shorty’s Restaurant in Moriarty. He is a Moriarty native who said he wants to serve on the CNMEC board because he is invested in the community.

He is on the boards of Enchantment Legacy and is chairman of the Estancia Valley NRA, and Moriarty Lions Club.

“People don’t participate because they aren’t seeing a difference, no change,” Tapia said. “So how can we change it? It’s going to take a working board.”

Tapia said he expects a steep learning curve if elected, but wants to push the development of solar and other renewable energy sources, saying, “We have to get away from fossil fuels” due to new laws.

He said he is concerned about where wind turbines are placed due to impact on wildlife.

Julie Bassett is a also a graduate of Moriarty High School and now lives in Edgewood. She said if elected, she believes she would be the first person from Edgewood to sit on the CNMEC board.

The service area of the electric co-op includes Edgewood and extends well to the west—to the Sandoval County line in the north and including the South 14 area.

The current makeup of the board has three people from Moriarty, two from Estancia, one from Vaughn, one from Mountainair and one from Claunch.

The southern service area includes parts of Soccorro, Lincoln, DeBaca and Chaves counties; to the east it includes parts of San Miguel and Guadalupe counties.

There are roughly 17,000 households served altogether.

Bassett said the biggest strength she would bring to the job if elected is her background in finances.

She is the manager of the Edgewood branch of the Sandia National Laboratories Federal Credit Union; previously she worked 24 years for Albuquerque National Bank.

She serves as treasurer on the board of the Greater Edgewood Area Chamber of Commerce.

While she says, “I don’t know a lot about energy,” she said she is a team player who knows how to collaborate, and is “looking forward to learn as we go.” Bassett added, “My financial background is my biggest asset. A lot of decisions the board is making are financial decisions.”

Art DuCharme is from Moriarty, and served previously on the board of the Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority.

He has a Ph.D. in physics, and said his scientific background makes him a good candidate for the position.

He said he would work to increase renewable energy sourcing for CNMEC. New Mexico “has the ideal climate” for development of renewable energy, DuCharme said, calling it “the elephant in the room.”

He said he “doesn’t want to be critical of the current board,” then adding that changes to the bylaws should be made to implement term limits, and to create a more open election process. “I’d like to see people come aboard with different expertises,” he said.

DuCharme said he is in favor of redeeming capital credits to the member-customers.

He also said he would be a good fit for the board because he is retired and has time to devote to it.

DuCharme described CNMEC as “generally well managed and run well.”

He said he has an “appreciation of the technology needed, particularly in the renewables,” and added, “Changes are coming rapidly.”

The annual meeting starts at 11 a.m., with the voting period starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 10:45.

For more information, contact CNMEC at 505-832-4483.