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Hunger Mountain Coop Council Election Results

Photo courtesy of Hunger Mountain Co-op.
Just over 7% of Hunger Mountain Co-op’s (HMC) membership voted to elect four new council members, after a summer of contentiousness over the handling of alleged sexual harassment by a Co-op manager and concerns about Co-op leadership voiced by some members and staff.

New council members are: 

  • Erich Zeichner (20% of the vote with 463 votes, for a  three-year term); 
  • Elizabeth Jesdale (19% of the vote with 443 votes for a three-year term); 
  • Carl Etnier (19% of the vote with 438 votes for a three-year term); 
  • Catherine Lowther (17% of the vote with 406 votes for a two-year term). 
Ballots prompted members to vote for up to four of the six candidates. According to a blog post on the HMC website, 683 members voted, representing 7.0975% of membership.

Candidates who lost the election were incumbent Steven Farnham, with 374 votes (16%), and Kristian Connolly, with 215 votes (9%), according to an email from HMC to The Bridge.

Several candidates ran on a platform of change. “I keep thinking of the six young people who bravely came forward, who, along with many of us, were denied their voice. We deserve to have our voices recognized and changes made,” Jesdale wrote in her candidate statement. 

“I support change consisting of better oversight of the executive component of the business. I am hoping that there will be a consensus leading to a more collaborative, respectful, and equitable partnership with the entire Co-op staff leading to total transparency and better morale,” Zeichner wrote in his statement.

Voting began at 5 p.m. at the Co-op’s Annual Meeting Day, Nov. 9,  and ended at 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. Members attending the annual meeting viewed short videos of each candidate, but there was no candidate forum or question-and-answer session with candidates. Candidate statements were made available on the Co-op website (and in The Bridge) as well.

One council member, Farnham, did not garner enough votes to remain on the council, and one Co-op staff member, Elizabeth Jesdale, who has worked at the Co-op for 23 years, was voted onto the council.

The first meeting with the new council is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 5:30 p.m.