WESTERN SAN JUANS – Silverton native Terry Rhoades will represent District 7 on the San Miguel Power Association’s Board of Directors for the next four years, after beating opponent Keith Meinert of Ouray by a vote of 227-189.
Election results were determined yesterday at SMPA’s annual meeting in Ridgway. A total of 434 ballots were cast in the election, both by mail and in person, but 18 of those were deemed spoiled. District 7 encompasses Silverton and Ouray.
Both Rhoades and Meinert are former county commissioners – Meinert served as Ouray County Commissioner from 2007-2011 and Rhoades served as San Juan County Commissioner for two decades before stepping down in 2012. The two men find another similarity in that they both come from a background in the extractive industries (Meinert in oil and gas development, and Rhoades in hardrock mining). This was Meinert’s second failed bid for the District 7 seat.
Rhoades currently works as a heavy equipment operator and foreman for Maisel Excavation, and has strong community ties in both Silverton and Ouray.
“I was surprised by the election results,” Rhoades said today. “I’m happy. I will vote for what I think is best for District 7.”
Once he has gone through his orientation and gotten settled into his new position, Rhoades said the main issues he will focus on as an SMPA board member will be ensuring the safety of the power co-op’s linemen and making sure they have the best training possible, and fighting to keep one resident lineman in Silverton.
“That’s one thing I’m adamant about,” he stressed. “We are the only town in whole southwest that gets completely shut down by (snow)slides sometimes. You have got to have someone around to switch the line and keep the breakers from blowing. That is very important to Silverton.”
The last time SMPA’s District 7 seat was up for grabs was in 2009. In that election, a strong conservative incumbent from Silverton, Jerry Hoffer, claimed the majority of the Silverton vote, while two moderate candidates from Ouray (including Meinert) split that town’s votes down the middle.
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.
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