Sunday will be the last day Weavers Way’s 5,000 member households can vote on who will decide how to manage the cooperative.
Just like any American election it’s hard to get full participation. This year the co-op is offering online voting, in addition to the usual paper ballots that are mailed out, in stores and can be slipped into a ballot box at both stores.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had more than 500 votes,” said Jon McGoran the Communications Director for the co-op. “That’s part of why we’re doing [online voting]—to increase participation. And it’s a natural evolution.”
The board elections are important, he said, because members own the cooperative. Therefore they need to be adequately and fairly represented. The board of directors, he added, has the authority to hire or fire the general manager.
Furthermore, the board monitors the general manager’s performance as well as how the co-op is running. It supplies the general manager with goals and limitations.
“Each month [Weavers Way General Manager Glenn Bergman] reports back to the board on how he interprets the co-op’s goals, how he tries to do it and how successful he’s been,” said McGoran.
McGoran added that the board gives guidance to the general manager, but it doesn’t tell him what to do directly. Things are executed through the co-op’s policy manual, which is constantly being revised.
The current revision members are voting on is to simplify the language of a by-law about committees. Members are being asked to adopt rules that will apply to all committees—including some that may not have formed yet. An example of a committee currently not listed in the by-laws is Philadelphia Backyard Chickens, or the chicken committee—which sprang up over the winter.
Four members on the board of directors will also be finishing their term at the end of 2012. That includes President David Woo, Vice President Margaret Lenzi, Treasurer Chris Hill and Member-at-Large Sylvia Carter.
Woo said he plans to serve on the board as the immediate past president. However, he doesn’t want to serve the full time because he wants to qualify to reenter the board sooner rather than later.
Members who are serving on the board may, according to the current by-laws, only serve five consecutive years. After that period of time has been served, a member has to wait a year before they can run again.
There is a board seat that was left empty, so there will be five new board members elected.
In the running for the new spots will be eight fresh faces that might be running the board—Megan Seitz Clinton, Tom Laskawy, Amanda Saunders, Dickie Lynn Gronseth, Janet Gilease, Jeremy Evans Thomas, Jonna Naylor and Dave Tukey.
Margaret Lenzi will also be running again.
All candidates are running for a general position. After the first meeting, Lenzi said, board members vote to decide who will take which position.