Sharp, one of the plaintiffs to that lawsuit, was supported in his bid for the Area 5 seat by three of his fellow plaintiffs, but was stridently opposed by the two best-known plaintiffs, Butch Thompson and Bo Pounds. He earned 835 votes (52 percent) over Charles Sevier, who received 761 votes (48 percent). On March 31, when there were nine candidates vying for the seat, Sharp led Sevier by 273 votes. This time, his victory was just 74 votes.
Sharp said he was disappointed in the negative tone of the campaign, but is ready to take his seat on the board.
“We have to put the EMC members first and move this organization forward,” Sharp said. “They are more important than any one board member.”
McClellan, who will represent Area 4, won 820 votes (52 percent) over Jim Hudson, who received 771 votes (48 percent). Both he and Sevier were endorsed by the Cobb EMC Owners Association and Thompson and Pounds.
It was a come-from-behind win for McClellan, who had finished 80 votes behind Hudson in the eight-person field on March 31. On Saturday, he prevailed by 49 votes.
McClellan said he hadn’t known what to expect.
“I’m glad it’s over and done with,” he said. “Now we move forward.”
But that did not happen immediately. As he offered to shake hands with his opponent in the sanctuary of Piedmont Church, where the vote was held, Hudson refused.
“I don’t want to shake your hand,” Hudson said to McClellan. “I don’t like the way you ran your campaign, and I think it’s trash.”
McClellan responded that he was sorry Hudson felt that way, and said later that he believed he ran a fair campaign, even with ads that some considered negative.
Hudson, though, said he is happy that Sharp was elected.
“We’ve got a great person in Tripper,” he said. “What we and the plaintiffs have accomplished is phenomenal.”
Sevier said he was proud that he had greatly narrowed the gap between him and Sharp in the Area 5 race.
“I’m disappointed, because I believe I have better experience, but I gave it my best effort,” Sevier said. “I feel very good about so many people, including a lot of first-time voters, coming out. I’m glad we got David on there.”
There were 1,620 registered ballots on Saturday, just under 1 percent of the EMC’s 174,000 members. Lawyer Michael King served as acting chair in place of lawyer Joe D. Whitley. Both are with the Greenberg Traurig firm in Atlanta.
The 2007 member lawsuit resulted in a complete turnover of the cooperative’s 10-member board of directors that began in November, when Ed Crowell, David Tennant, Cheryl Meadows and Malcolm Swanson were elected. All had been endorsed by the Owners Association.
Four more directors were elected March 31. They are Rudy Underwood, Kelly Bodner, Bryan Boyd and Eric Broadwell, and all but Broadwell were endorsed by the Owners Association. Those four, along with Sharp and McClellan, will attend their first board meeting on Tuesday.
Crowell, who was elected as chairman of the board in February, said this campaign had been “much too political.”
“But we have a pretty decent board. Part of my role now is to get everyone out of campaign mode and get serious about the business at hand,” Crowell said. The board will immediately get to work on determining the scope of a forensic audit, and then selecting a firm to do that work.
“We will spend whatever it takes to do it right and do it well,” Crowell said.
Chip Nelson, who was named last summer as chief executive of the utility, lauded the “solid” board that has been elected.
“There’s no reason this board can’t work well together,” Nelson said. “They all bring something positive to the table.”
When it was all over, Butch Thompson — who had made no secret of the fact that he did not believe Sharp, or any of the plaintiffs, should seek a seat on the board — said he is nevertheless excited for the EMC.
“Naturally we would have liked for our people to win, but the people have spoken,” he said. “In my opinion, this is the first time every board member has been elected by the membership, and that is historical. It is a great day.”
Don Bailey of Woodstock said he came out to vote yesterday to make certain that Hudson and Sharp were elected.
“They have good qualifications and good integrity, and we need people like that,” said Bailey, who has been an EMC member for about seven years.
Pam Strong, who lives in the Heritage Farms subdivision in northeast Cobb, said she came out to vote for McClellan and Sevier because she wanted to see change.
On Tuesday night, the EMC directors and company executives are planning to host the first town-hall meeting for members, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at EMC headquarters in Marietta. Seating is limited to 200 people on a first-come, first-served basis, though the room can accommodate up to about 350 people, company executives have said.
Attendees can register in advance by calling (678) 355-3102 or online at cobbemc.com/ townhall.
There will be a brief presentation at the town-hall meeting, after which directors and executives will take questions, chairman Crowell said.
Cobb EMC serves about 190,000 members in Cobb, Cherokee, Bartow, and Paulding counties in metro Atlanta, plus Randolph, Quitman, Calhoun and Clay counties in the south Georgia “Pataula” district.
The company’s fiscal year will end April 30, and its finance director has predicted a bottom line $4 million to $5 million less than the $22 million in net margins, or profit, recorded in fiscal 2011.