WCEC Drive Thru Annual Meeting Results in Unprecedented Voter Turnout
A record-breaking 760 members of Wharton County Electric Cooperative cast their vote for the WCEC Board of Directors during the 82nd Annual Meeting of Members Wednesday.
As a member-owned electric cooperative, WCEC is governed by a Board of Directors representing and elected by the membership. Each year, a Meeting of Members is held to present business reports to the membership and elections are held. Traditionally, a sit-down meal is served, and the business meeting and election are conducted in person. However, due to COVID-19 precautions, the meeting was held as a non-traditional, drive thru meeting this year.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” WCEC GM/CEO Gary Raybon says. “We anticipated that we may have more members come out for the drive thru meeting and were prepared for a 25% increase over the average for the last five years. No one could imagine that we would end up with almost double that amount. It was wonderful to see our members show up to take part in the most important part of our co-op’s business – the election of their representatives.”
At 760 members voting, the 2020 Annual Meeting is indeed a record-breaker. The next highest turn out for voting members was 498 in 2009. In recent years, the co-op has been prepared for up to 500 members voting as attendance has been on a slow decline. This year, that was not enough.
“We did run out of ballots and attendance gifts early in the evening,” Raybon says. “More ballots were quickly printed up and members were given IOUs to pick up their gift at a later date. The numbers took everyone by surprise.”
At the end of the evening, WCEC members voted to re-elect Jim W. Harton in District 8 over Fritz Cornelius. In District 2, Patrick Kubala defeated Karl H. Haupt. In District 5, Samuel Craig Hardin was elected over Annett K. Simmons and Rick Marik. Kubala and Hardin will replace Leroy Kaspar and A.J. Kresta, respectively. Both have reached their term limits.
As is tradition, all voting members were included in a drawing for door prizes although the format was slightly different. The drawing was held on Thursday in the WCEC lobby and was streamed live on Facebook. The winners are:
$50 Casa Hernandez Gift Card August Sohrt
$50 Casa Hernandez Gift Card Richard Harrison
$50 Prasek’s Gift Card Garrett Bubela
$50 Prasek’s Gift Card Andrew E. Arriaga
$50 United Ag Gift Card Victor Petresh Jr.
$50 United Ag Gift Card George Matthews
$50 Blue Creek Market Gift Card Douglas Dornak
$50 Blue Creek Market Gift Card Errol Janak
$50 Little Caesar Gift Card Rebecca A. Korenek
$50 Little Caesar Gift Card Christine Diamond
$50 Walmart Gift Card Helen Carleston
$50 Walmart Gift Card Stephanie Korenek
$50 Walmart Gift Card Charles Merta
$50 H-E-B Gift Card Donna Tzitzis
$50 H-E-B Gift Card James Thonsgaard
$50 Jr.s Smokehouse & Bakery Gift Card Arthur Priesmeyer & Son
$50 Jr.s Smokehouse & Bakery Gift Card Marti Setera
$50 Jr.s Smokehouse & Bakery Gift Card David Buchanek
Compliments of Schneider Engineering:
$100 Visa Gift Card David Saucedo
$100 Bass Pro Shop Gift Card Adam Gusman
$100 Electricity Credit Bobby Peter
$100 Electricity Credit Stephen Helterbridle
$100 Electricity Credit Felix E. Mica Jr.
$300 Electricity Credit Alice Atchetee
Members who won a gift card can pick them up at WCEC’s office at 1815 E. Jackson in El Campo. Business hours are Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Electricity credits will be automatically added the members’ accounts.
Extra attendance gifts have been ordered and are expected to arrive the first week of July. We are expecting to have members redeem their IOU voucher after the 4th of July holiday. Please follow WCEC on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for announcements.
“Overall, the meeting was very successful with so many of our members participating,” Raybon says. “We want to thank everyone who came out and for their patience as we worked through the glitches. As always, we look forward to seeing you all next year.”