Thank you all for your patience during the ice storm this past February. I know it’s difficult to wait for your power to be restored, but you can rest assured your cooperative staff worked diligently through the night to get your lights back on. And, we definitely appreciate the relationship we have with the other cooperatives in Illinois. In the recent past, we were able to help out a sister cooperative, Corn Belt Energy, with an outage situation. Now, in this instance, crews from SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative were able to lend us a hand so that we could get the job done in a much timelier manner.
It’s a comforting thought to know there are friends out there willing to lend a hand when needed.
That’s what the cooperative system is all about, isn’t it? Around 75 years ago, friends and neighbors banded together to get electricity to places passed over by the investor owned utilities. They set poles by hand, and together built the system we know and operate today. I’m proud to say that cooperative spirit is still alive and well, and shows itself readily when things aren’t going smoothly.
It’s that same cooperative spirit behind the newest initiative of our national organization, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, or NRECA. Just recently it launched a non-partisan, nationwide effort to promote civic engagement and voter participation in the communities cooperatives serve.
The purpose of the initiative is to get people out there voting. No matter what political views you hold, we want to encourage you to exercise your right!
The Co-ops Vote initiative will focus on eight issues that are important to health and prosperity of communities served by electric cooperatives:
- Rural Broadband Access
- Hiring and Honoring Veterans
- Low-Income Energy Assistance
- Water Regulation
- Rural Health Care Access
- Affordable and Reliable Energy
- Renewable Energy
A new website, vote.coop, offers co-op members information on the voter registration process in their state, dates of elections, information on the candidates running in those elections, and explanations of the eight key issues the campaign aims to address.
In keeping with its non-partisan goals, the initiative will not be endorsing specific candidates for office.
We want to make sure our government knows that rural America matters. This campaign isn’t about divisive, partisan issues. It’s about real people in real places facing real challenges. It’s about our co-ops living out the principles of our movement: Concern for community and democratic control.
The electric cooperative movement has always been non-partisan, and our communities are facing too many challenges to have a government crippled by bickering. All of the bickering lately has resulted in a Congress where more members represent the extremes of each political party and are less inclined to seek compromise and bipartisan solutions to problems.
When our parents and grandparents set out to electrify rural America, they didn’t have time to ask the person next to them about their views on economic or social policy. Their economic policy was ‘we need to save this community’ and their social policy was ‘let’s do it together.’
I hope the Co-ops Vote program can help rekindle that spirit of cooperation.
For more information about Co-ops Vote and the impact of these eight key issues on the people of rural Illinois visit vote.coop.