The annual election of Board members and Owner voting on the proposed by-law change concluded in the middle of May after a month of open voting. There is some great news with the results of the election, though there is a lot of room for improvement within the voting process.
On the good news front you, the owners, have selected two returning Board members and one new Board member. Dani Lapiano and Siddeeq Shabazz were both appointed to the Board a year ago to fill vacancies. I, along with the rest of the Board, are pleased that they will both be joining us for full three year terms on the Board. The continuation of their service is incredibly valuable for the Co-op. Joining Siddeeq and Dani is our new Board member Amanda Formica. Amanda’s background in social justice work along with an obvious commitment to Cooperative Principles makes her an obvious choice to join the Board. In the vote tabulation Amanda received the most votes and opted to fill a one-year vacancy on the Board, so don’t be surprised if you see her name on a ballot again next year. New and “old” alike all three have jumped right into their service to the Co-op.
Additional good news from the elections is that the Board’s proposed By-law change received approval from the Owners. This By-law update to the membership section of the By-laws clarifies several points as well as brings our By-laws more in line with the current expectations and needs of a Cooperative. Other updates and clarifications to the By-laws are likely as we review other sections in the light of some of the broader trends within the Cooperative movement.
I will pause here to extend my thanks to every owner that participated in the election process, attended the Annual Meeting, or otherwise helped make the democracy of the Co-op possible. Your interest and engagement is what makes a Cooperative strong. That said there is a lot of improvement for participation and access to voting that the Board is committed to addressing in this next year. Total votes in this election represented only about 1% of the Co-op’s ownership. Not a particularly impressive figure, and for the Board it raises concerns of how to make the process more accessible.
With an eye on vastly increasing the participation of Owners in the election process the Board is investigating the best option to allow for secure online voting for next year. The expectation is that this will be one way to vastly increase the number of votes cast, and consequently (we hope) Owner engagement around the annual election. There are already some indications that including online voting is good route. One specific example is the annual owner survey, which was available online and in store this year. The survey had a response rate five times greater than annual election voting!
Finally, I would offer one last thanks and send off to Board members Randy Harris and Caitlin Karrenberg. Randy has completed a full term (6 years!) on the Board. His dedication to the Board and the Co-op will be missed, though I’m pleased to report that he plans on still volunteering and supporting the Co-op in a number of ways. Caitlin expertly held the employee seat on the Board, and functionally ended her term and moved to Austin at the same time. We wish both of them the best.
Look for details on the annual owner survey in an upcoming newsletter, and as always owners are welcome to attend our meetings or reach out to us at MVMBoard@MountainViewMarket.coop.
Mountain View Market Board of Directors