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VEA’s District 6 director Dawson departs

Valley Electric Association Inc.’s board of directors is again experiencing shifts with several new faces coming on board in recent months and more on the way. Valley’s District 6 director departed from the board in early November.

Dave Dawson, District 6 director for Valley Electric Association Inc., has retired from the co-op’s board, according to a news release from Pahrump-based Valley.

A spokesman for the co-op had reported on early Thursday that Dawson had resigned.

In an updated written release, Valley stated that Dawson is retiring from the board.

“I had announced several weeks ago of my decision not to seek re-election and to retire in April, but for personal reasons, I have decided to retire now,” Dawson stated in the release.

Dawson had been re-elected to a three-year term in 2017. Dawson announced earlier this fall that he was not seeking re-election to his seat, up for grabs in the spring of 2020.

Dawson was first elected to his seat in 2008.

“The process of finding a successor to complete Dawson’s unexpired term is underway,” Kathleen Keyes, Valley Electric’s board president, stated in the co-op’s release.

Members in Valley’s District 6 are set to receive notification of the open seat by mail, according to Valley’s release.

The cutoff to apply for the District 6 seat is Monday, Dec. 2. Valley’s board expects to name Dawson’s successor at their Dec. 19 regular board meeting.

Members for Change

Dawson has been under fire from a members’ group known as VEA Members for Change, which had targeted all of Valley Electric’s six directors on the board in February 2019 for removal.

Member for Change’s leader, Bruce Holden, announced during the co-op’s October board meeting that the group had reached the threshold for the number of signatures needed to call a special meeting, where Dawson could have been voted out by the membership in his district.

According to a previous interview with Holden, Members for Change had verified over 740 signatures from its petition drive, where 675 were needed to start the process of getting a special meeting called.

“We are very happy to see Mr. Dawson resign,” Holden said in an email.

Holden sees Dawson as the last of six directors “directly responsible for the financial mismanagement of Valley Electric Association (VEA). Getting all six of the directors to resign, be recalled, or not run for re-election was the main goal for Members for Change.”

Members for Change started its petition drive in September to remove Dawson, following a failure to reach the needed number of members in District 6 for his removal.

On a district basis, Members for Change had fallen just short, by 39 signatures, of the necessary number needed to call a special meeting for Dawson’s removal.

Members for Change had come to loggerheads earlier this year following a petition drive in the first half of 2019 on the interpretation of the co-op’s bylaws over the removal of directors.

Valley argued that directors needed to be removed by district, where 10% of members in a district could sign a petition for a special meeting that could lead to a director’s removal. On the other side was Members for Change, which stated that the bylaws allowed for the removal of any director by gathering enough signatures to match 10% of the total membership.

Members for Change, which launched its petition drive in February 2019, had collected hundreds of signatures in the first half of the year under the parameters it believed would garner a special meeting for the removal of all six directors. Members for Change started its drive following a rise in broadband and residential electricity rates for Valley’s members.

Two directors were eligible for removal on a per-district basis at that time: Peter Gazsy (formerly District 1 director for Valley), resigned from his position over a pending recall and former District 4 director for Valley, John Maurer. Maurer, however, had already resigned.

The other four directors targeted by Members for Change, resigning for various reasons throughout 2019, were Ken Derschan (former District 5 director); Dave Hall (former District 2 director and board president); Rick Johnson (former District 3 director); and most recently, Dawson, District 6 director.

The recent petition to remove Dawson may not have proven successful.

Former Valley Electric Inc. Interim CEO Dick Peck said before his departure that the recent action by Members for Change to remove Dawson would likely not move forward because the group was using the same petition it had in February, though the group needed to update its petition.

“We told them three times that you cannot use the old petition,” Peck said in a previous interview with the Pahrump Valley Times. “If you want to remove Mr. Dawson, you can and you should. But you’ve got the have a petition that particularly turns around and says District 6, and here’s the charges on that petition.”

Dawson was the last director on the board who was a target of Members for Change when it launched in February.

The group, however, is not planning to disappear.

Holden wants to see changes in how much representation Pahrump has on Valley Electric’s board. He estimated that about 11% of Valley’s membership lives outside of Pahrump but elects four of Valley’s six directors.

“Our group believes that this needs to change,” Holden said in an email. “A minimum of three of the directors need to be elected from Pahrump.”

Members for Change is also critical of Valley’s law firm and some of its past actions.

“We would also like to see VEA replace their current law firm,” Holden said.

Members for Change is positive on the board members now in place at Valley.

“So far, we believe that generally, the new directors are on the right path,” Holden said. “Going forward, we hope that they are much more open with the membership.”

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com On Twitter @MeehanLv

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