Citizens Co-op Board election, June 24

by Joe Courter

As a result of the situation at the Citizens Co-op, the Board of the Co-op has decided to move their scheduled September elections up to June.

The fired and striking workers (5 and 2 respectively) who were the alarm clock in bringing to light the increasingly non-democratic practices at the Co-op have had their case heard by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) in Jacksonville.

The concerned investors, members, shoppers and former workers have held a number of productive meetings to try and bring a solution to the controversy, but the existing Board was unwilling to bend except for moving the election forward.

This is in large part due to the precipitous fall-off in business. The store had for most of its 3-year existence been a money loser, sustained only by much early community fundraising and further infusions from community members. Being a small store it was hard to get a foothold, which was further complicated by limited selection and high prices in the attempt to be local and organic. With the high turnover of experienced workers, and changes and consistencies in leadership and style, it proved difficult.

So here we are. The June 24 meeting at the United Church of Gainesville will kick off the voting with a meet the candidates event. Voting will continue on line and at the store for two weeks until July 8 when the votes will be tallied.

The new Board will meet July 15. The election will be for all seven Board seats, with it open to current Board members as well as new people. There are 4 at-large seats, open to the top four vote getters. There is one member-owner seat, one producer-owner seat, and one worker-owner seat.

The Co-op’s website will have profiles and photos of all candidates. Those wishing to serve or to nominate those to serve must meet a June 3 deadline.

There is one vote per membership share, and any membership gotten before June 24 will get to vote. As this is just recently announced, there are details to be worked out. Outgoing City Commissioner and current Co-op Board member Thomas Hawkins is tasked with running the election, and he will be looking for and needing help. D

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