Chamber member wants more voice in board elections

— Cindy Looper, Elk Run Inn owner and Craig Chamber of Commerce member, has an issue with the Chamber, and Chamber leadership thinks it's a good point.

"I've been concerned as a Chamber member," Looper said. "In the past three years since I've been here, I have never voted on a Chamber board member."

The Chamber bylaws state its nominating committee has to present at least four nominees to its members in each election. That's a concern because there are only four seats up for election each year, which means the nominating committee is seemingly choosing board members without allowing for a membership vote, Looper said.

The Chamber board is willing to consider any interested Chamber member, Chamber board president Gene Bilodeau said. The nominating committee only uses its limited authority when a nominee wouldn't be good for the Chamber as a whole.

"There are people that are caustic and are not team players," Bilodeau said. "Why would we want someone like that on the board?"

Members also may write in candidates who do not appear on the official ballot. If a write-in candidate has more votes than a formal nominee, then that write-in candidate would assume the board seat without requiring any other form of approval from the Chamber board or elsewhere, Bilodeau said.

"It is a vote by the members and certainly the board would not go against that," Bilodeau said.

The board is following procedure exactly as outlined in the bylaws, but any desire for review from Chamber members would be welcome, Chamber director Christina Currie said.

"This (process) is something we all have inherited," Currie said. "The process the board is following is correct and it's a fairly common practice, as well. I agree, and I think the board agrees, that we do need to take a look at the bylaws, and if the membership wants to change them, it's something they can vote on in the future."

The membership approves the bylaws, but bylaws cannot be voted on until the next annual Chamber meeting, which will most likely be February 2008, Currie said.

The annual Chamber meeting is now a joint assembly with representatives from Moffat County and the city of Craig making yearly addresses during the State of the County event. The exact date is scheduled within 90 days of when the Craig City Council adopts the next year's budget.

The board is always aware of including Chamber members in the elective process, but has not always drawn a huge number of responses in the past, Currie said.

"Our board membership comes from the members, and members should have a say in who the board is," Currie said. "The board goes to the membership to solicit for anyone who wants to be a board member. The problem is that interest was really low there, for a while."

Looper put in a nominee application to the board two years ago, and the president at that time, who was not Bilodeau, called her and said the board decided to go with someone else, Looper said.

The Chamber is glad its members are interested in board activities. This is an opportunity to get feedback from the membership, and that's always a good thing, Currie said.

"It's great that (Looper) is involved, and getting input from the members on the process is important," Currie said. "It's a great point. It'll make us take a look at the process and decide what's best."

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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