The elections are here! While it’s always said that way, the actual “elections” are only part of the story. As a democratic cooperative, members not only elect North Coast Co-op’s Board of Directors each year, but also vote directly on some bylaws changes that directly impact member rights.
North Coast Co-op’s Board of Directors represents the members, but this is different than being the members. It’s important that you, the members, vote not just on the board candidates, but also on bylaws changes. The ability to vote both directly on issues and for board candidates is one of the main things that makes a cooperative a cooperative — “Democratic Member Control” is one of the seven cooperative principles, the cornerstones of a cooperative’s existence.
This election, we have one open board seat for a member, and one open seat for an employee-member. On the ballot, you’ll find a section for the member board seat—it will have the candidates plus one line for write-in candidates. The employee-member part is a bit different. Employees vote amongst themselves on who to put forward as their preferred candidate for that seat, and then the members at large vote “yes” or “no” on that candidate, rather than selecting from a list. Voting on the bylaws changes is a straightforward affair; “yes” or “no.” Simple process, though the changes aren’t always simple!
The election process is how you, our member-owners, run North Coast Co-op! Without you, we don’t exist, and without your input we don’t know what you want us to do. It’s easy to say, “I don’t really care, I just buy groceries.” I said that, but looking further into this process, I realized that isn’t really how it works. That viewpoint involves many assumptions: what sort of groceries we carry, at what prices, in what locations, with what purchasing standards, etc. Without our members having democratic control we would just be another grocery store, something there are plenty of already. Instead, we are “The Co-op”! So please, help us continue our journey, and vote.
It’s easy to feel like you’re not qualified, especially on complicated bylaws changes, but our members are quite literally the only people who are qualified! Nobody but our members can truly say whether a change embodies our members' ideals or not.
So, come vote! And if you have input after the election, submit comment cards (they’re all read!) or come to board and committee meetings. Members are invited to every meeting and every meeting is open to member participation. We’d love to see you there!