The final two directors, elected Saturday, are Tripper Sharp and David McClellan. Perhaps appropriately, they were backed by competing reform groups – Sharp by Take Back Cobb EMC and McClellan by Cobb EMC Owners Association. The bone of contention for the Owners Association was Sharp’s status as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in 2007 that resulted in the criminal indictment of ex-CEO Dwight Brown and the election of new directors. Fellow plaintiff Butch Thompson of the Owners Association opposed Sharp’s candidacy.
But after Saturday’s election, Thompson conceded, saying “the people have spoken.” Sharp spoke of putting the EMC members first and moving forward. Let’s hope the hatchet is buried by both sides who fought hard for their slate in the elections.
Now it’s time to do the nitty-gritty of the work of top management, planning and providing for the electricity needs of about 190,000 members served by Cobb EMC – and making certain that the co-op’s financial house is in order, starting with a forensic audit. That should reveal more details of how the money of the members has been spent in the decade preceding the lawsuit during the regime of Brown and a compliant board of directors.
This new board should be up to the task. The directors bring to their job a wealth of knowledge and experience ranging from technology to financial expertise and management credentials. Chairman Ed Crowell’s resume includes two decades as CEO of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association, while vice chairman David Tennant has more than 25 years in the energy field, having served as vice chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, among other posts.
McClellan is a certified public accountant and certified cash manager with more than 30 years in financial and accounting work, plus 12 years with a public utility. Eric Broadwell has experience in aerospace engineering, having designed aircraft for Lockheed and other companies and consulting with a utility to implement “a GIS support system for smart meters,” according to his biographic sketch. Sharp is a senior loan officer at Generation Mortgage and, as noted, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Cheryl Meadows, the EMC secretary-treasurer, has business experience and for 20 years served as assistant director of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany. Rudy Underwood boasts three decades of management experience in public affairs, public policy and public relations, serving as senior director of government affairs for the Southern Region Operations of the American Chemistry Council. Kelly Bodner is a Cobb school teacher with a Master’s in education, while Bryan Boyd is vice president of Pacesetter Graphics and Malcolm Swanson, who has a mathematics degree, owns a screen-printing and embroidery business in Cobb.
Now the priority for the new directors is simply this: Keep the promises you made to the members of Cobb EMC.