Qualifying deadline for TEPA board elections nears

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – Those seeking to run for the three seats up for election on the Tippah Electric Power Association’s Board of Directors must submit their petition to qualify to the Secretary of Tippah Electric by Thursday, Oct. 13, no later than 5 p.m., and the qualifying date is Monday Oct. 17, no later than 5 p.m., TEPA officials said this week.

“The second Thursday of October — which is the 13th this year — is a bylaw date for petitions to be returned. The qualifying date is the following Monday the 17th and that is to make sure the petitions are checked and are filled out correctly, and the signatures are checked. This is not a bylaw date, but we just need time to check each one of them after they are returned,” TEPA General Manager Tim Smith said this week.

The names of those seeking to qualify won’t be released before Monday’s qualifying deadline. When candidates have qualified and been notified – a process likely to be completed later that day — the names will be released, Smith said.

Those wishing to run must live in the district they’re running in, and must have a petition signed by at least 25 members in good standing.

This year, board seats in Areas 5, 6, and 8, are up for election. The incumbent in each of the three areas are as follows:

–Area 5, Incumbent Dr. John Stanford.

–Area 6, Incumbent Wallace Tomlinson.

–Area 8, Incumbent Stanley Rolfe.

Three of the nine board seats come up for election each year. Board members serve three-year terms.

Smith said Tuesday morning: “According to the by-laws ballots are to be mailed out no later than the first Monday in November, but there’s a good chance people will receive their ballot before that. We plan to start mailing them out approximately the first week in November in order to avoid any delays in the mailing that might occur.”

All of the 13,400 members who have a meter across the TEPA service area are eligible to vote for a candidate in all three districts. TEPA serves all or parts of Tippah, Alcorn, Benton, Union, and Hardeman (Tenn.) counties.

“Everyone can vote system-wide on each candidate, but each member is entitled to only one vote, no matter how many meters they have,” Smith said.

Smith said ballots must be returned no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21. “The ballots must be in the office of Franks, Franks, and Jarrell by that time. The ballots must be returned by mail. No walk-in ballots will be accepted whatsoever,” Smith said.

According to TEPA by-laws, in order for a valid election for directors to be held, ballots must be received from a minimum of 10 percent of the corporation’s active members. A candidate must receive a majority of qualified votes to win. Should a winner not be declared in a director election due to the failure of any candidate to receive a majority of qualified votes, the two candidates with the highest number of qualified votes will be in a run-off election.

He said the accounting firm, which will count and certify the ballots – Franks Franks and Jarrell PA of Tupelo – will notify TEPA with the results as soon as the ballots are counted and certified. At that time it will also be known if there will be a run-off in any of the districts. The runoff candidates’ names will be posted on the outside doors at the TEPA office in Ripley.

Whoever wins is scheduled to take office at the TEPA board meeting in Jan. 2012.

The board is composed of the following members.

–Area 1, Ricky Martin.

–Area. 2, Tommy Benson

–Area 3, Tim McMillin.

–Area 4, Johnny Childs.

–Area. 5, Dr. John Stanford.

–Area. 6, Wallace Tomlinson.

–Area 7 (At-Large), Tim Needham

–Area. 8, Stanley Rolfe.

–Area 9, vacant

The board meets the second Thursday evening monthly, and other times as required, to transact routine business. Board members manage finances, set policies and deal with personnel, equipment, salaries and utility rates, among other duties.

According to the by-laws, board members must be a bona fide resident of the district represented.

Board members earn $12,600 annually. This has been unchanged since 2004.