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Sangre de Cristo Electric Association Board Election Underway – May 16 debate added

The election process for the Board of Directors of the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) is already underway. Judging by media coverage and the variety of letters to the editor published to date, there is intense interest in this contest.

While a proposed new rate structure gets much of the attention, the election addresses topics ranging from retaining seasoned incumbent candidates to attracting fresh thinking from newcomers. Energy conservation, wholesale energy sources and the interests of fulltime residents vs. second homeowners all come into play.

With this much at stake, it’s important to thoughtfully consider credentials and go beyond the stated platforms of those running, especially for the two contested seats. Towards that end, two candidate debates have already taken place: one in Howard and another in Westcliffe. A final debate has now been set, giving SDCEA voting members one last chance to make an informed choice during the voting period, which ends at 1:00 p.m. on June 8.

As previously reported by Ark Valley Voice, this special event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday May 16. The debate will be held in the SCDEA Community Room 29780 N. U.S. Highway 24 in Buena Vista, CO. The event is co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Chaffee County (LWVCC ) and the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association where a large team from both groups has pulled out all the stops to make this an engaging, deep dive for the attendees.

An in-depth debate

“We’ve planned a forum that will be very energizing to both candidates and participants,” said LWVCC event organizer Grace Garret. Speaking with Ark Valley Voice, Garret added that joining forces with SCDEA Chief Administrative Officer Sarah McMahon and her team has resulted in a blended format with two major sections.

Designed to be content-intensive, crisply-paced and professionally moderated, this final debate is an opportunity for SDCEA voters to have in-depth knowledge of the candidates at hand before marking their ballots.

A short history of the SDCEA and overview of current urgent priorities by retired SDCEA Director Suzy Kelly will set the stage and bring immediate focus to what matters most in this election. Candidates will be allowed a brief introduction, ideally building on what is already publicly known about them and how they might best contribute to a high-performance board.

“Lightning Round”

The first phase features what Garret describes as a “lightning round”. Each candidate gets the same question and has but a single minute to make their points in a clear and logical sequence, perhaps in the style (mis)attributed to Det. Joe Friday on Dragnet — “Just the facts ma’am”.

“Candi-dating” Round

A “Candi-dating” round, often used by the LWVCC is next. Up to ten attendees will be grouped with a moderator and a candidate at tables. The moderator may have a question or two to prime the pump, but as with “speed-dating”, this is where probing inquiries from multiple attendees is key. And while some “pet” questions might be anticipated, this is also a chance for ad hoc surprises, especially as a follow up to what might have just been addressed.

“We’ve asked the moderators to ensure that everyone is respectful, engaging and succinct,” said Garret. Emotions sometimes run high and people can get caught up in the moment. In close quarters, face to face, even well-intended words may trigger less than positive replies. All are reminded that each of the five candidates has worked hard to prepare and sincerely wants to succeed at this challenging volunteer role. After a chance to engage at the table, each candidate will then be asked to move to another table and repeat the process.

After every candidate has made the rounds of the room, the session will close with a brief wrap up and reminder of how to complete the voting process. Candidates are encouraged to remain in the room and informally continue one-on-one discussions with those who want to know more about the candidate’s platforms and their thoughts on board governance.

Pre-registration is required

To ensure an impactful evening with the maximum amount of discovery, organizers have limited seating for the event. With that in mind, voting members of the SDCEA and the media are particularly encouraged to attend and all must pre-register here.