Former County Commissioners Vie For SMPA District 7 Board Seat
by Watch Staff
May 12, 2013 | 980 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

WESTERN SAN JUANS – Two former county commissioners are vying for the chance to represent District Seven on the San Miguel Power Association board of directors. 

Keith Meinert of Ouray and Terry Rhoades of Silverton will face off for the position in the upcoming SMPA election, the results of which will be announced at the regional power co-op’s annual meeting on June 13 in Ridgway. 

District Seven encompasses both Ouray and Silverton. Current longtime director of the district, Jerry Hoffer of Silverton, is not seeking re-election. 

Meinert served as Ouray County Commissioner from 2007-2011. Prior to moving to Ouray he worked for Texaco for over 30 years in engineering and managerial positions in producing operations, natural gas, sales, alternative fuels and business development. He retired in 1999 as the Vice President of International Marketing and Business Development with Texaco Global Gas & Power. He has a degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech. 

“I believe a Board of Directors should direct policy and not micro-manage

day-to-day activities,” Meinert said. “I will bring to SMPA’s Board my extensive experience in technical operations, organizational management, budgetary oversight and long range planning. I know how utilities should function in a regulatory environment.”

Rhoades is a fourth-generation Silvertonian who like his father and grandfather before him, spent much of his life working in the local mines. He was a San Juan County Commissioner for 20 years, during which time he served on the Board of Directors of Housing Solutions for the Southwest. He finally stepped down as commissioner after losing the 2012 election. He currently works as a heavy equipment operator and foreman for Maisel Excavation, and has strong community ties in both Silverton and Ouray.

“As a county commissioner, I have worked with many different individuals and know how to work with everyone,” Rhoades said. “I use common sense and compromise in all of my dealings both as a County Commissioner and as an individual.” Rhoades stressed the importance of Silverton retaining a strong voice at SMPA’s table. “We are a place that can get shut down at any time,” he said.

Candidate profiles for both Meinert and Rhoades can be found online at

SMPA board members serve four-year terms and have the responsibility of setting the strategic direction for the cooperative. Directors are required to represent the membership on a fair and impartial basis for the best interest of all 9,600 co-op members and attend regularly scheduled board meetings. Attendance at national, state and local meetings is often necessary as well. 

The board position representing SMPA’s District Five, which encompasses Mountain Village, Ophir and the surrounding communities, is also up for vote in the coming election cycle. However, SMPA officials announced this week, incumbent Rube Felicelli was the only candidate to submit a nomination petition for this position, and is running unopposed. 

A seat representing SMPA’s District Two, meanwhile, will be filled by appointment on May 20. The position was left vacant when long-time district director Wes Perrin lost his battle with cancer in March. Per the cooperative's bylaws, this slot will be filled by appointment, with interviews and the candidate selection taking place in executive session on May 20. Six candidates have expressed interest in filling the seat: Brian Ahern, Joseph Cooley, Robert Justis, David Oyster, and Lance Waring. 

The appointed candidate will finish out Perrin’s term, representing the Telluride region until 2015, at which time he can run for re-election.

SMPA members who live in District Seven will receive a mail-in ballot near the end of May. The ballot must be returned no later than 5:30 p.m. June 12. Ballots can be mailed or hand delivered to either SMPA office (in Nucla or Ridgway). 

Alternatively, members can vote at the co-op’s 74th annual meeting of members on Thursday, June 13 at SMPA’s Ridgway office, 720 North Railroad Street. 

Member registration begins at 4:30 p.m. There will be a buffet style fajita and taco bar, and door prizes. The event provides a chance for co-op members learn more about SMPA’s financial condition and business operations.

“The Annual Meeting is one of our most important events of the year,” said SMPA General Manager, Kevin Ritter. “It is an opportunity for our members to get a firsthand look at what we’ve been doing over the past year and learn about our goals for the future.”

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