Barely 24 hours after learning they had been elected to the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors, new directors Dee Crowell, Jim Mayfield and Raymond Paler got down to business.
Along with the six continuing board members, they attended a board briefing Sunday night conducted by representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which coordinated a $215 million loan that allowed KIUC representatives to purchase Kauai Electric from its investor-owned parent company around a year ago.
“We all got started very, very quickly,” said Mayfield.
Crowell (first), Mayfield (second) and Paler were the top-three vote-getters in Saturday’s KIUC board election, and won three-year terms over five unsuccessful candidates.
“I was shocked” by the election results, Crowell said. “I didn’t expect that kind of showing. I hope I can live up to the faith that the membership has shown in me.
“I look forward to working with the new board members, the existing board members, and the staff of KIUC,” said Crowell.
“Job one is making sure we can repay all of our debts,” while also making sure to deliver reliable power to members while also looking at possible alternatives to oil-generated electricity where fiscally feasible, he added.
“This is an exciting opportunity.”
Mayfield and Paler also expressed pleasure with the election outcome.
Mayfield, a business banking officer with Bank of Hawaii, said he wasn’t sure how he would fare in his first-ever bid for public office.
“I think they (co-op members) elected some good people,” said Mayfield, a member of the founding KIUC board who played a key role in securing the federal loan allowing the purchase of KE.
He was “hopeful” he’d be elected, but not sure how he’d show, he said. All in all, he is “very pleased” with the results.
Asked about Saturday’s turnout, over 2,700 fewer voters than February’s first KIUC board election, Mayfield said around 3,000 of the 24,427 registered voters are considered “inactive” members, meaning they have electric meters but are not currently using electricity.
“But, there’s a lot we can do to improve it,” he said of turnout.
Mayfield said what he’ll bring to the KIUC board is his background in working with several of the same RUS officials who conducted Sunday’s board briefing.
He’ll use his banking background to move KIUC into a more public, more aggressive economic-development posture, something that Mainland cooperatives already do in large measure, he said.
There are many, many federal programs offering funds for co-op initiatives, and he plans to use existing relationships with many of those “gentlemen” in Washington, D.C., to get more funds for KIUC and Kaua‘i, he said.
Mayfield also said he’d also like to see a Kaua‘i-based, Kaua‘i-funded, small-business lender get established on the island.
Paler got a call Saturday night while attending the Kaua‘i High School Class of 1973 reunion in Las Vegas, with the caller relaying that Paler had successfully secured a seat on the KIUC board.
“I’m happy. I’m pleased. I’m ready to go to work on the board,” said Paler, part-owner and station manager of radio station KAWV (98.1 FM) in Puhi.
“I appreciate the support and confidence that the rate-payers who voted for me showed, and I’ll try my best to take care of the needs of the people of Kaua‘i.”
Paler, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kaua‘i County Council last year, said he didn’t know what to expect from the KIUC election, and was prepared to accept any voters’ decision.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I just gave it my best shot. Whatever the members decided I’d accept.”
Paler is hosting a party this Saturday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. at his home in Molokoa II subdivision in Lihu‘e, at 3233 Palai St., for friends and supporters.
Today, he and other KIUC board members are attending an informational briefing on the electric-power-generation industry.
The new KIUC board members will be sworn in Tuesday, Oct. 7, before sitting down to their first official board meeting later that day.
Ron Kouchi, a former county councilmember and current KIUC board member, said he wasn’t surprised about Saturday’s voter turnout, which was off substantially from the first board election in February of this year.
“I’m happy almost 5,000 people voted,” compared to 7,595 in the February election in which 31 people ran for all nine available board seats.
Both the February turnout (34 percent) and Saturday results (19.9 percent) outpaced Mainland co-op election turnouts, which average between 10 percent and 15 percent, Kouchi said.
He was also pleased that between 700 and 1,000 people showed up at the first KIUC annual meeting Saturday at Kukui Grove park and pavilion, and asked good questions about the present and future of KIUC, Kouchi said.
Kouchi spoke favorably about all three successful board candidates, including Crowell, a personal friend. Some things the board is doing will benefit from Crowell’s knowledge, experience and background as an architect and planner, Kouchi said.
“He will be a great asset to the board and members.”
Crowell, a former county Planning Department director, is now Kaua‘i regional manager for Sandwich Isles Communications, a rural telephone company licensed to provide telecommunications connections to all state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands subdivisions across the state.
Mayfield, a founding board member, kept participating in KIUC board business even when he didn’t win election in February, so “understands what being on the board entails,” said Kouchi.
Paler “offered himself to help improve the community” both as a candidate for County Council and KIUC board, and will bring “a lot of energy and enthusiasm” to the board, Kouchi added.
“All three will do excellent jobs. It’s a good mix. I look forward to cooperatively working with them.”
Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).
KIUC BOARD ELECTION AND BYLAW-CHANGES VOTE
|Voter turnout:||19.91 percent|
|Board of Directors (top three elected to three-year terms)|
|Make 11 housekeeping changes?|
|Change annual meeting date?|
|Remove directors for not attending meetings?|
|Pay stipend to directors for days spent on board work?|
|Indemnify members against lawsuits?|