Combining the elections will save the company at least $250,000, by some accounts.
Six seats on the 10-member board will be elected on March 31. All but two of the incumbents in those seats have said they will not seek re-election.
The seats to be elected, and the incumbents, are: Area 2, David Herndon; Area 3, David McGinnis; Area 4, Johnny Gresham; Area 5, Kay Anderson; Area 8, vacant since the recent resignation of Sarah Brown; and Area 9, Larry Chadwick.
Gresham and Anderson are the only two incumbents who have indicated they may stay in the race.
All members vote for all director seats, even though the directors represent a geographical area within the EMC’s service territory.
Candidates wishing to run for any of the seats must qualify by March 2. Nomination requirements are available on the EMC’s website, www.CobbEMC.com.
The format and location of the March 31 meeting will be the same as for the November election: It will be at Piedmont Church, 570 Piedmont Road, in northeast Cobb, and lawyer Joe D. Whitley will serve as moderator.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., and during a 9:30 a.m. meeting, candidates will each get five minutes to make a presentation to members. After that, the floor will be opened for 60 minutes for member comments.
Candidates must get 50 percent plus one vote to win outright. A runoff, if needed, will be held April 21. But the order signed Thursday also specifies that if the second-highest vote getter in any race decides to withdraw, the election automatically goes to the top vote-getter.
In the Nov. 12 election for Area 7, there were seven candidates, and the race was set for a runoff. Charles Malcolm Swanson got 49.47 percent of the vote, and then-incumbent R.J. Patel drew the second-most votes, with 14.5 percent. Patel withdrew a few days later, but EMC leaders hesitated to declare Swanson the winner, and first contacted the other five candidates, who then also withdrew.
Last summer, Schuster set out the schedule for elections that had been postponed since 2007 amid the court litigation. Schuster’s original scheduled called for three rounds of elections: Nov. 12, Feb. 18 and May 12.
But at a special members’ meeting in September and then the first election on Nov. 12, members vented their anger and frustration at perceived mismanagement of the electric cooperative by rejecting the company’s suggestions on two bylaw changes and tossing out two incumbent directors. (Two other incumbents did not seek re-election in November.)
Several weeks ago, the plaintiffs to the 2007 lawsuit against the EMC had proposed holding one combined meeting. At that time, EMC representatives had said it would be too confusing to combine the elections — and it would not save the EMC very much money.
But the board, with four new members who were just elected in November, disagreed and directed CEO Chip Nelson to approach the plaintiffs and see if they were still interested in a single, combined election. That led to the consent order, which was signed by Judge Schuster on Thursday.
“Even though the original dates for the elections had been staggered for an orderly transition onto the board of new board members, it was agreed by all that the cost savings to members of a combined meeting was paramount,” Nelson said in a news release announcing the change.
Although Piedmont Church has donated the use of its building, the EMC must pay a third-party firm, the New York-based Election Services Corp., to coordinate the election and mail candidate information to the EMC’s 173,000 members.
Bo Pounds, one of the plaintiffs, said it only makes sense to have one election, rather than drag the process out longer.
“They should go ahead and get it over with,” Pounds said.
Early this month, EMC spokesman Sam Kelly said Nelson favored leaving the elections to be done on two separate dates, for several reasons.
“The election dates have already been decided and agreed to by both parties and entered in a court order; the dates have already been announced in the Cobb EMC November newsletter, which has a September deadline; and the dates have also been posted on the EMC website for more than three months. Bottom line ... it would have created too much confusion for our members,” Kelly told the Journal via email at that time.