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As the election results continue to come in for the three board of directors seats up for grabs in Intermountain Rural Electric Association, the state's largest power co-op, longtime IREA general manager Stan Lewandowski's footing is looking better and better. That's much to the chagrin of IREA Voices, a progressive group of IREA members aiming to do away with Lewandowski's pro-coal, anti-renewable-energy stance once and for all. As we reported yesterday, early election results showed incumbent (and Lewandowski supporter) George Heir had beaten IREA Voices candidate Charles Bucknam. These results mean that the progressive group could not end up with four of the seven directors seats -- the number necessary to theoretically fire Lewandowski and get rid of his more controversial measures. Now IREA Voices, which succeeded in getting one sympathetic candidate elected two years ago, has lost a second race: Word came in last night that district 5 incumbent Bruff Shea received 3,838 votes, or 64 percent of the total, beating challenger and IREA Voices candidate John Masson.
"It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is," says Masson when reached on the phone. "If nothing else, there are a lot more people who are aware of the issues and eventually it wll be enough to effect a change."
One change Masson would like to see is a more secure IREA voting process. Masson says that the secrecy envelopes used with co-op's mail-in ballots were so transparent that a voter's ballot decisions could be read by holding the envelope up to the light. While he's not accusing IREA of fixing the election, he says the co-op should revamp its ballots to address this issue -- and if they won't, he wouldn't mind seeing state legislation requiring them to do so. "There are too many wrong signals in this whole thing," he says. "I think they have missed the boat when it comes to the security and integrity of the voting process. It would take a few steps to eliminate that speculation."
In the meantime, there's still one batch of IREA election results to go: District 3, between incumbent Gene Sperry and challenger Mike Galvin. Stay tuned for the final word.