From a Director — Jan Bargen, December 2019

December 01, 2019

Thanks to the voting participation of Salem Electric co-op members like you, I am the newest member of the Salem Electric Board. I am honored to serve in this important oversight role.

I decided to volunteer for the board because I knew that I could hit the ground running. I recently left a twenty-year career in electric regulatory policy, working for utility regulatory commissions at both state and federal levels. Being familiar with the jargon and the range of industry players has already come in handy. Still, I have plenty to learn about the unique perspective of electric cooperatives. Thankfully, Salem Electric has a strong culture of participating in regional and national networks of cooperative and public power entities, each of which provide education sessions.

I am excited to bring my skills home and contribute directly to our co-op, as a member and yes, like you, as a co-op owner. One of my priorities is to increase transparency and member engagement. Transparency of process, policies, and deliberation is essential to ensure fairness to all members. For example, at a recent board meeting, members affected by a board decision came and spoke up about unexpected ways it affected them and we agreed to revisit our decision as a result. Every member’s voice matters at Salem Electric.

Fundamentally, cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in policy and decision-making. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership.
The next election is around the corner! I encourage you to consider running for a board position or attend a board meeting and share your ideas with your co-op!